An 18-wheeler truckload of pumpkins arrived from New Mexico this afternoon at Georgetown’s First United Methodist Church. Volunteers, large and small, young and old, were out in force for this annual fundraiser which continues through Halloween. Here are a few photos from the 2-hour effort, taken for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.
Tonight’s photos, taken last night and tonight, are just some scenes around the Blackland Prairie after two days of rain drenched our soil. The best part about the rain? It’s ushering in a cold front! Keep in mind, friends, this is south central Texas. When the temperatures “plunge” to the low-60s, as expected tonight, it’s a cause for celebration. These images are mostly scenes, but Prince of Peace Lutheran Church is included, too. Because trees are abundantly growing around its facade, I looked at it from a different perspective tonight. It’s still mighty pretty, no matter the angle.
Visiting Taylor’s parks, whatever the time, is nice. At night, however, they transform nicely. Tonight’s photos, longish exposures all (with a tripod, of course) were made at Murphy and Bull Branch Parks. The opening image, from Bull Branch, was made tonight, after a bit of stormy weather passed through. The others are in and around Murphy Park, taken over the weekend. These are light interpretations, nothing more.
This weekend’s forecast was filled with rain predictions. I was concerned the annual Blessing of the Animals at San Gabriel Park, conducted by. Georgetown’s Grace Episcopal Church, would not happen. Arriving at the park a little early, I stayed in my car, reading a chapter on my current novel. After that, I ambled over to where the service would commence, leaving my rain gear behind. Lo and behold, the rain came, prompting a return to the car an umbrella and towel. Thankfully, the rain didn’t stay around for long. One of the nicest things about this service is so many people actually thanking me for being there. In this period in our history, when the news media is viewed by some as the enemy of the people, that was nice. I’ll let the photos tell most of the story, but call your attention to the last photos, two friends, enjoying the best of childhood as they relaxed in one of San Gabriel Park’s wonderful live oak trees. The girls were here for the service, but this was at the end, when time for tree-climbing was okay. Good moments all around, friends.
One thing to count on, friends is that I will return to the same subject matter time and time again. Part of this, of course, is the fact that we seldom wander far from our Taylor home. Then again, even if I were to wander to places far away, my favorite subjects would be right here on the Blackland Prairie. If what I do bores you, a suggestion: search elsewhere. My feelings won’t be hurt. Photos taken tonight pay yet another visit to Norman’s Crossing, Texas. The Boehm family has been very accommodating. I am most grateful. These grain elevators have been in their family for generations. The opening photo is a few minutes past sunset. The second image is far beyond that. The skies above? They belong to us all, but it’s nice to see them while standing on a fine piece of land ocean.
Tonight’s theme is horses. These beauties are ones previously documented, but we visit with each other again from time to time. The opening photo was taken west of Granger, Texas, the others in Norman’s Crossing. I’ll leave it at that, friends.
What you don’t see here, but available for viewing on my Facebook page, is a 1991 photograph of County Road 457, just west of Coupland, Texas taken by one of my esteemed instructors from University of Texas, Frank Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong did quite a bit of wandering on the Blackland Prairie himself before moving to Massachusetts, where he lives today. In his 80s, he’s still teaching. And I’m still learning. After looking up County Road 457, I took a drive there tonight to record my own scene. Frank’s is better, in glorious black-and-white, probably taken with a 4×5 view camera, perhaps even 8×10. The cemetery at right is for St. Peter’s Church of Coupland. While there, looking to the left, cows were nudging each other atop a hill overlooking the road. It was a deadend road in 1991. It remains so today, ending at Brushy Creek. Since the cemetery was across the street from the church, I stopped by there before going home.
These are some shots taken in Dallas in the mid-1970s, when I tagged along with friend and mentor Skeeter Hagler as he covered a football game, Texas A&M vs. S.M.U. It was an extremely-wet and cold day. The Aggies were losing, too. Who knew S.M.U. was ever good? No action shots here, folks, just yell leaders, wet fans and (of course) Skeeter! Ah, the the glamorous life of a photojournalist.
As is often the case, I’m not always sure if something I photographed makes it to public view. This large pasture of longhorns, however, has been growing on me since August, when they were made. The photos were taken while strolling through the cemetery adjacent to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Wuthrich Hill. Cows, often curious types, began to express an interest in my wanderings. After a bit, I decided they needed their portraits taken, including some very young ones. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t summarily toss these.
It’s homecoming on a rainy Friday night as the Bartlett High School Bulldogs take on Wortham High School, also the Bulldogs. The field is soaked, but thankfully it’s just rain, no thunderstorms to stop the game.
13-year-old Mona Shaw, one of the Bartlett cheerleaders, is unfazed. Mona and her three other middle school cheerleading squad members join forces with the varsity cheerleaders for homecoming.
Born with Spina bifida in March 2005, Mona’s not shaken by challenges. The Mayo Clinic defines Spina bifida as a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. Within hours after her birth in Round Rock, says her mom, Mary Matthews, Mona was rushed to surgery at St. David’s in Austin.
“The doctors told me she’d be paralyzed from the waist down,” said Matthews. The doctors were wrong. Years of intense physical therapy, plus three more surgeries, have made a difference. And then there’s her determination to excel.
“Whatever they told me I couldn’t do, I’d do it anyway,” says Mona, adding “I try to do everything I can do.”
In this school community of 340 students, Mona excels. She’s a cheerleader, yes, but she’s also a member of the middle school’s volleyball team and plays flute in the band. Away from school, she volunteers at her church, First Baptist in Bartlett.
Her family supports Mona’s passions. “I’m there for everything she does,” says mom, who also has two sons, Mona’s brother, J.J. Shaw, 17, a junior on s on the football team, and Dominic, 9, a water boy for the football team. Mona Lisa Burnett, Mona’s grandmother and namesake, is often in attendance, too.
Most days Mona can be seen making her way around the school, maneuvering with ease throughout the halls and grounds. Sometimes, when overloaded with backpacks and books, fellow students come to her aid, but she relishes her independence.
Bartlett ISD superintendent Travis Edwards is himself a cheerleader for Mona. “Mona Shaw is a sweet young lady with an indomitable spirit,” he says. “Despite her challenges, Mona aspires to do everything that all of her classmates do ….. and she does!! She is forever enthusiastic, positive, and a pleasure to be around. She always has a smile and a hug for me when I see her,” adding “I am proud to know her and I am confident that she will grow into a very productive member of society.”
Mona’s volleyball coach, Lauren Siple, is also a fan.
As Mona’s Volleyball coach, it has been not only an inspiration to many of her teammates to see her tryout and play volleyball, but it has been an inspiration to several others that show up to support their loved ones at the junior high volleyball games. The first day I met Mona, she looked at me with a smile on her face and said something along the lines of “Coach, there is nothing that I can’t do,” this is when I knew I would love to have Mona participate and be a part of Lassie Athletics. Mona pushes herself each and every morning discovering things she didn’t think could be accomplished. I am so excited to see where this athletic program takes her with her determination and drive. Life is about inspiring others and pushing those to accomplish the impossible, and I believe Mona’s story does just that!
Cheerleading is a natural fit for Mona. Her mom says she’s been to every high school football game since birth, except for one time for one of her surgeries. After that, according to Matthews, Mona made it clear, telling her doctor “If you’re going to do surgery again, you’re the team, everyone’s cheering for Mona.