Marines in the Making!

After completing another assignment in Georgetown this morning, I drove through San Gabriel Park.   It was a drizzly morning, with temperatures maybe in the mid-40s.   In a park field there were a group of young folks being cajoled and pushed, but the youngsters seemed to relish  the workout.   Naturally, curiosity got the best of me so I stopped for a few minutes.   As it happens, Marine Corps recruiters were conducting combat fitness tests for future Marines, and those thinking about becoming Marines.   These fitness exercises are meant to give participants a feel for the physicality of combat, but without weapons.    Several of those gathered are “poolees,” a word I learned today.   A poolee is someone who has been accepted into the military, but has yet to enter the service.  In most cases, it’s because they’re still in high school.  Think of it as a pool of available people.    There were also “guests” at today’s workout, those considering the Marine Corps, but haven’t made up their minds.  The young lady in the red Marines sweatshirt was a guest.   Her older brother is a Marine, her father was also a Marine.  It’s a family tradition.   Anyway, the Georgetown Marine Corps recruiting station holds these occasional sessions, timed events that put participants through their paces:  i.e.. running, crawling, carrying another person on one’s back, toting two ammo canisters, 30 pounds each, while running.   And there are active duty Marines on hand to give them that extra push.   It was fun to watch, and very instructive.   It’s interesting that as the world changes, more women are being sent into combat roles.   The nicest part of the session?  Each and every one of these young adults called my old self “sir.”   Even if I don’t deserve that honor, I like their style.  And their manners.

At St. Mary’s Cemetery

This is a photo I took earlier this week at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Taylor, Texas.   The monument to Jesus Christ was added in 1931.   If you’re driving along the road that borders the cemetery, this is the first thing you see.    This is a pretty old burial place.  Perhaps I’ll stop by for another visit.    It’s intriguing.

Light On the Prairie

A Noack, Texas farmer was very kind to allow me to set up shop last evening to try for photos of the coming full moon.   I had met him a while back when taking photos of a tornado that ripped through East Williamson County, Texas.    The tornado, actually two or three of them  if memory serves,  made quick work of two elevators on this site.  I was happy to see that the ones destroyed were replaced with two shiny new versions.   Since standing around waiting for something to happen isn’t acceptable, I pointed my little camera at the shiny metal reflecting the last of the day’s prairie light.  My farmer friend offered to let me climb up the ladder with my cameras for photos, but on that I passed.   A tripod on solid ground was the way to go.   

A Full Moon, Sans Eclipse

This morning, anticipating photos of a lunar eclipse, I rose a bit after 5.  When stepping outside, I was greeted by a thick covering of pre-dawn fog.   Not one to just give up, I drove around for about 15 minutes before calling it a (sleepy) morning.   But you do have full moon photos, both from tonight,  in Noack, Texas, at Christ Lutheran Church, a congregation for 125 years, and from last night, a cormorant above the rookery at Taylor’s Murphy Park, followed by huge mess of grackles zooming past.   Although not technically perfect, I’m thankful for the Noack farmer who allowed me to set up my gear near his grain elevators, which afforded a good view of the church.  What I didn’t know, however, was where the dang moon would rise.   Nature accommodated though, with the blood moon rising nicely.  Again, I wish they were more technically correct, but I’m fine with them.    We’ll see what happens the next time an eclipse rolls around, or I hope we do.

Barbecue Time in Walburg

One of my Saturday stops was in Walburg, where I attended the 8th Annual Walburg Invitational Barbecue Cook-Off for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.   18 teams were on hand to compete in three categories:  chicken, pork ribs and brisket.    Some lucky attendees had the opportunity to sample some of the entries.   The older folks doing the tasting are judges, but not the 19-month-old, who was making fast work of some tasty-looking ribs.   Proceeds from the cook-off this year were donated to “Food For Friends,” a Granger/Bartlett-area food pantry who serves almost 200 free hot meals every week.   

A Fine Morning On The River

When I left home Saturday morning for assignments in Georgetown and Walburg, the fog was making its presence known in a big way.   My normal route west was a good bit slower as a result.   Seeing ten yards in front of my hood was a task.    But as I passed over the San Gabriel River, the sight of a fly fisherman squarely in its mist sure got my notice.   With a few minutes to spare before the first assignment, I pulled over and did a little bit of climbing to  address the scene and get that all-important context.   Fog, even when it’s presented in color, like these images, reveals its ability to simplify a photograph, much like black and white.  While I’ve never tried fly-fishing, everyone I’ve ever seen practicing this art seems to be getting a taste of serenity  whether or not they get a nibble.  It’s the being-there part they love.   It’s a calming therapy, or, as I like to claim, a meditation.    A few are offered for your viewing.   

Remembering Tommy

On January 23, 2017, Georgetown cyclist Tommy Ketterhagen died when struck by a motorist on Patriot Way,  not far from his high school alma mater, East View High.   After the tragedy, Tommy’s cycling team,  Austin’s 787 Racing, helped make a ghost bike to honor him a reality.   Saturday morning, that team remembered him with an 80-mile ride, beginning at Mellow Johnny’s in Austin.  About halfway through the ride, the group paused at the ghost bike for a few minutes.  Tommy’s family and friends were there, including his parents, Tom and Luz Ketterhagen, his brothers and sisters, and many family friends.   Perhaps the most moving sight was after the cyclists had moved on, when Tommy’s youngest sister, 2,  spent a few minutes at the ghost bike.  She’s in the last two photos.   A few days after Tommy’s death, a young man came forward, taking responsibility.  He recently pleaded guilty.   A sentence will come in early-March, most likely a 2-year prison term followed by 10 years probation.  Hopefully, his life beyond punishment will move forward.  There are no winners here.   When you’re on the road, friends, be smart, be cautious.  

Meditation at the Rookery

If you follow this site, you know my feelings about photography as therapy, or meditation, or a little bit of both.   Occasionally, I actually depress the shutter.  The rookery at Taylor’s Murphy Park is among my favorite places to pursue a little serenity.   At this time of the year, I’m not seeing  many egrets, although there are a few.   Mostly, they arrive in spring, staying through the summer to bring new avian life into the world.   The birds mostly seen right now are cormorants.    There is one Great Egret included.  Maybe she decided she likes it here.   These photos were taken last evening, with clouds rolling in.   This post opens with one of the final shots taken, when night skies took over and the birds settled in for a fine Texas evening.

Good Old Prairie Light

This group of three photos stay in touch with my recurring theme of windmills, plus a few utility poles thrown in for good measure.    That first windmill has obviously had a rough life, but it’s hanging in there.   I like the little light on that other one.  The Taylor Municipal Airport is not far from the lighted windmill.  My guess it’s there to warn approaching pilots.   In essence, these are just about good old prairie light.   We have an abundance.

A Blackland Prairie Field Worth Sharing

On another of those evening forays around East Williamson County, Texas this week, I found myself on a county road seldom traveled.   Since coming home in 2009, this land of empty and open spaces has added quite a few humans.   It seems people are discovering what I’ve known for years.   So yes, even out in the boondocks, in farm country, there is “traffic.”   But I was happy to encounter a couple of donkeys sharing a field with a contented Texas Longhorn.   Coming to a stop for a few quick frames, I expected to be surrounded by cars and trucks bearing down on my Honda.   But things remained quiet, giving me a few good  minutes to spend with these sweet critters.