When Will I Learn?

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I’ve been in South Louisiana for a month now visiting David and getting the new RV set up for him.

It’s been blazing hot and so humid here (anyone who knows me knows how I absolutely hate heat and humidity), that it has kept me from getting out and shooting as much as I should have.

When I first met David he was in Eunice, LA.  My first few days of rambling I saw some great thing I wanted to shoot, old cars and trucks as well as some old houses especially in Opelousas which is about 1/2 hour away from Eunice.  The plan was to be at this location for a month, so I kept putting off shooting waiting on the right time.  Well guess what?  That was a mistake because David came in the second Friday afternoon and said “well we’re leaving tomorrow and moving to Amite”, which is almost 2 hours away.

What??? but I have photos I need to take and roads I need to ride.  One of these days, and I think it is now, I will learn not to put off shooting something when I drive by it or stake it out thinking I’ll come back when the time is right.

The only time that is right is in the moment.  Weather changes, light changes, sometimes things disappear. As we head out of Eunice and into Opelousas, I almost cried seeing all the great things that I never shot and now never would.  Hindsight is my nemesis.  That ache is like loosing a lover and you’ve all been there so you know my pain.

When we got to Amite, I knew for sure that I would go to my favorite cemetery in Independence and shoot this little pair of angels.  This, I hoped, would ease my tortured creative soul from missing out on all the things I should have shot in Opelousas. There are lots os adornments on the graves in Independence, especially in the older section and this pair of angels just speak to me.

So one morning at 6:30 Remy and I headed out to Independence. I waited until the sun started peeking over the tree line because I wanted the sun rays to hit her head just right so I got the photo you will see at the top of this post.  After I got home and went through the shots I had taken there were a few I took before the sunrise that I really liked so I decided to turn them into some digital fine art with some angel quotes.

I am happy to say that the owner of Circa 1857, Sally Fox Conklin was so pleased with my first piece that she wanted me to send her more.  So these angels will be at Circa 1857 in Baton Rouge, LA., where my other piece is currently hanging.  You can also buy these on my blog under the BUY PRINTS button sub tab fine art.

The moral of this story is always keep your camera or phone ready at all times because if something catches your eye, stop, turn around, back up do whatever you need to to get the shot.  It might not translate like you want it to once you look back at it, BUT it could be the shot that is a once in a lifetime photo.

PS  I did go back to Opelousas and take some photos of those old cars and truck so stay tuned for that post!

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And Then This Happened

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So you thought the last postabout the experience at Don & Patty Berry’s ranch was the end of a great adventure…well think again because then this happened.

A few days later I drove to Ft Collins, Colorado (about 1 hour away) to do a little exploring and shopping.

Ft Collins is a great town, home of Colorado State University, with a beautiful historic downtown full of great boutique stores.

I was roaming around in one store and two ladies were staring at me and one started pointing.  I looked at her, then looked behind me thinking she was pointing at someone else.  She started to get busier with that pointing finger and finally I heard her say “photographer”.  I’m thinking, who is this woman and how would anyone in Ft Collins CO know who I was?”  She said “You’re the photographer from the branding last week-end”. I started laughing and realized her face did look familiar but when I met her she had a cast on her hand so I was confused.  After we stood there talking for a minute, she said, “I’m Debie and this is my daughter Stacy. I was talkingto you about our branding this coming this week-end.”

Holy cow, are you kidding me?  What are the chances of this happening?  Here we are an hour away from Cheyenne in a tiny store and she recognizes me.  Don’t ever tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor.  He continues to amaze me by putting me in places where I meet the most awesome people who I now consider friends.

She told me they were doing the branding on the week-end and I was welcome to come out and shoot.  Are you kidding me, yes I would.

Stacy Broda (Mark & Debbie Childs’ daughter) gave me her card so I could get directions and time.  I had mentioned that I love to shoot abandoned places and she offered to take me on a tour of their ranch that has some buildings from the homestead days.  Ok, now my excitement level is reaching the bursting point.  We made a date for Friday, the day before the branding.

Stacy has a degree in Agriculture and is the state advisor for the Wyoming FFA.  She is the 5th generation rancher on the Child Ranch and is very active in educating people like me about ranch life and the business end of ranching.  I had a lot to learn too.

I arrived at the ranch and we got into one of the farm trucks and off we went.  Stacy first showed me the one room school circa 1910 that was part of their ranch. They had recently put some red siding on the outside because it was deteriorating and they wanted to try to preserve it as best as they could.  However, the inside (photos below) was original and I loved it.  We then went to another homestead (photo of the house with the root cellar).  In this small, probably 12’ X 10’ room with a maybe 10 X 8 lean to addition, house lived a family of 6.  Hard to imagine that many people in a small space but that was life.  The last stop was the a homestead (photo of just an entry way to a root cellar) which is no longer there but it seems there is a backstory about moonshine being involved.  All of these homesteads were acquired over the years and became what is now the Child Ranch.

As we finished driving around the ranch, I had the pleasure of meeting Wayne Child, the father of Mark.  He was in his shop and as I walked through the door and was introduced to him, well I fell in love!  We chatted and I asked a few questions and then asked if I could take his photo.  No posing, just he and I talking and every once in a while I would take a photo.  I was looking into the eyes and face of history.  So much character, hard work, dedication and love was in that face that I was privileged to be sitting in front of.   Stacy and her granddad, two working ranchers 3rd and 5th generations still working together, it was heart warming to be sitting there with them.  Then in walks in the 4th generation, Mark, who was busy getting ready for the big branding the next day.  This would be the first time in that they were going to do this type of branding.

Saturday I was up early and out to the ranch. Many of the same cowboys were there from the previous weekend.  Most came over and spoke to me, recognizing me from the Berry Ranch.  I laughed and told them I was just like a bad penny, you never knew where I would show up.

The cowboys split up and some went to get the first group of cows and calves and the others went to get the second group ready.  I was better prepared this time with what to expect.  It’s quite a sight to see hundreds of cows with the cowboys coming over a hill headed right at you.

There was the same type of controlled chaos that entails the branding, inoculation and castrating that went on from my first experience at the Berry Ranch.  I don’t think I mentioned before but the women are in charge of inoculations.

So here I stand, a woman, 1600 miles from home basking in all that is pure Americana.  At one point I am in awe as I realize I am seeing the results of what families of those original homesteaders must have dreamed was possible.  These families have allowed me to be a part of the very fabric and history of the western way of life.  Stacy’s children will be the 6th generation of ranchers.  American Housing Survey tells us that most families only live in one place for 13 years.  Here is a family that is still living in the same place for over 100 years.  I was lucky enough to be with not one but two families that have been ranching for over 100 years.  Both farms have been written about in the “Wyoming Centennial Farm and Ranch” year book. If you are interested in reading about this farm, I will be happy to send you the information.

The day ended with a big dinner that Debie and Stacy prepared, beef brisket, salads, beans, and homemade bread, it was delicious.  I stayed this time because I regretted not staying at the Berry Ranch.  It was great watching them unwind and enjoy that meal together and discuss how the day went.  I talked to Mark a little about the day because their old way of branding (using a branding table) takes about 3 days and maybe 8 men.  This way (roping) took about 50 people and a day.  I think he was pleased and it looks like they may do it this way again next year.

I had an awesome day and when it was all over, they asked if I would take a few photos of the entire family together, except for the grandmother – she hates to have her photo taken, (which I totally understand).

As I drove off I thanked God for giving me these two week-ends of being with some amazing families.  I will never forget my time with the Child family, especially Wayne, who stole my heart.

I thank them for letting me be a part of their lives, if only for a couple of days, I will never forget their hospitality and our new friendship.

So as you’re out traveling about remember to always be open to those little moments, those unexpected moments when you feel that urge to speak to someone or ask them something about where you are, because you might be one sentence away from a the best adventure of your life.

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Sometimes it pays to eavesdrop

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Yes, there I was sitting across from four men dressed in cowboy attire in a local restaurant in Cheyenne, WY on my second day in town.  Anybody that knows me well will probably guess what happened next, however this story ended up with a life of its own.

So, of course I am curious as to whether they were ranchers or not, and I was trying really hard to eavesdrop on their conversation without much success.  One guy, I think, realized what I was doing so I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.  Finally a lady, that appeared to be the cook, came out and spoke to one of the guys and I heard the words “well we’re through calving” and it was all I needed to take the next step.

I waited until she left, found a business card, and stepped across the aisle and said “excuse me, are you guys ranchers?”.  Well they all started laughing and one guy said “no I’m a plumber”, to which I replied, “come on now don’t be messin’ with me” in my most southern drawl.  “I’m visiting here from North Carolina and I’m a photographer.  I would love the opportunity to come out and photograph the daily life of a rancher”.  Not wanting to put him on the spot, I handed him my business card and told him he didn’t have to let me know right away, but once he thought about it and could call me if he liked.  They were still joking around a bit and one of the fellows, Don Berry looked at me and said “What are you doing Saturday?”.  “Nothing,” I said, “absolutely nothing”.

“Well, have you ever been to a branding? We’re going to be branding calves and you’re welcome to come out and photograph that”.

My heart rate skyrocketed and I know the smile on my face looked like “The Joker”.  I asked for his phone number and he looked at me and said “I don’t have a phone, but you can call Huckleberry over there, he’s got one”.  ‘Huckleberry’ was the young man of the bunch and they all had a good laugh at his expense, Tom Wilson, (who had caught me eavesdropping), handed me his business card and told me I could call him.  Don proceeded to give me directions like I was from Cheyenne, but Tom, seeing my confusion, told me he would meet me on the Interstate and I could follow him to the ranch.

I could hardly wait to tell my husband, David,  and when I did, he looked at me and said “Well you’ve been here all of two days and you’ve already met four cowboys and you’re going off to a ranch with them to brand cows, yep that’s my wife”.

I met Tom on the interstate and off we went.  I was not prepared for the adventure I was about to become a part of.  After miles of fields and cows, we turned into the ranch and there were about 10 trucks with horse trailers.  As we parked I was thinking, “Who are all these people?”  I got out of my Jeep (oh so glad I have a Jeep) there were about 20 cowboys on horses getting ready.  There were a couple who really caught my eye as a photographer.  One in particular looked like he was straight out of a western movie and happened to be Tom’s brother Dan.  The other one had on some really interesting boots and a great handle bar mustache, Dave Troastale.

Tom started to explain what was going to happen and where I should be because they were going to drive the cows and calves from the pastures into a holding corral then separate the cows from the calves.

I was a little nervous and excited.  I called David right away and told him “I’m in the middle of about 20 cowboys” to which he replied “I know you are one happy girl”.

So all the cowboys are gathered together and Don is telling him where the cows are and how they are going to drive them in.  Soon I heard the cows bellowing and saw them come over a hill with all the guys surrounding them, bringing them in.  They were very efficient in getting them in the corral and separating the cows from the calves.  I felt like I was in the middle of some western movie.  There is no way I can adequately explain the sights, sounds, smells and action that was going on.  To say I was unprepared for all that happened next would be a gross understatement.

The calves were roped, branded, inoculated, and castrated, all in one swift operation.  I was a bit overwhelmed when it all started because there was so much going on.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have been around farm animals, raised a few pigs, rode horses, and churned butter, so I am not a novice to farm life.  However, this was very different.  I was amazed how all the other ranchers came together to help each other during the branding season.  All in all there were about 50 people who came together for this branding operation.

I wondered why branding was necessary in this day and time but found out that when there are several hundred thousand acres of land with several thousand cattle,  cattle theft  is still happening.  I was told that thieves will come in with tractor trailers and portable corrals and load up cattle and be gone.  Now that was a shocker. Brands are registered and well thought out as it is not uncommon for people who steal cattle to make slight changes to the brand so they can resell them.

This day was a photographer’s delight except that the sun was really bright, I knew I was going to get some harsh shadows but I was just excited to be there and be right in the middle of all that action.  Don Berry and Tom Wilson came over a couple of times and asked how I was doing and answered questions.  I might mention here that Tom (Black hat, buckskin horse in the photos) does not have a ranch of his own but helps with the branding of other ranchers’ herds. He told me he has helped with 25 brandings this season.  Can you imagine giving up 25 of your week-ends to help others?  What an awesome man.

There was a break in the action when all the women came with fresh baked goodies and drinks.  Don’s wife, Patty, came over and introduced herself to me and asked how I was doing, and if I needed anything.  The camaraderie among all these ranchers and their wives is something to behold.  I stood there thinking, this is the way life’s supposed to be…helping each other and genuine friendship.  I also realized that ranch life can’t be easy.  There are the winters where the cows and calves have to be looked after, moving them from winter to summer pastures by horses that can take days, calving season, mending fences, gathering hay and the list goes on.  These are large working ranches unlike anything back home in NC.  It’s really hard to wrap your head around the amount of land and vast spaces of these prairies.  What a huge responsibility to be a rancher and all that it entails.  This lifestyle probably doesn’t recognize week-ends and holidays like we are use to because they are responsible for thousands of cattle and hundreds of thousands of acres of land that must be tended daily.

They asked me to stay and join them for dinner but I didn’t want to impose on their hospitality too much so I declined.  They were roasting a pig for the first time.  I chucked to myself thinking, well that’s an every week-end occurrence at home, being from one of the most highly regarded BBQ states in the nation.  I regret not staying to be a part of those festivities.  Sometimes I just want to kick myself because I’m sure that I missed out on a lot more photos of these incredible people and the rancher way of life.

I want to thank Don & Patty Berry, Tom & Rhonda Wilson, and all those great cowboys and their wives for allowing me to be a part of one of the most special times of my life.  You guys are the best.  Can I come back next year???

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One Ordinary Day Turns Into Magic

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What are the chances that fate would once again lead me to an adventure that was most unexpected?

I must be living good because while we were in Mobile AL for David to take another week long class for his job, I decided to drive over to Hammond, LA  for a little visit to my 2nd family, Martha and Leon LeLonde and my new little brother Joe Turner.

I decided that Martha and I would drive over to Baton Rouge to surprise Joseph Jilbert since I had not gotten the chance to see him after sending the portrait of him.  So off we go, not expecting that the day would once again be magical.

We get to Baton Rouge arriving at Joseph’s studio, and just as we drove up Joseph came around the corner with a surprise look on his face and said “oh my God, what are you doing here” to which I replied, “I wanted to surprise you since I was so close to Baton Rouge”.  We hugged and I introduced him to Martha.  Joseph being the awesome guy he is started showing Martha around the studio.  She looked at me with amazement to which I responded “I know, right?” She was now experiencing the force of nature that is JoJo first hand.  He told us he was under a dead line to finish a project that had to get to an electrician by 2:00 p.m.  I just set up my tripod and started shooting him welding the finishing touches to this huge chandelier.

It was getting around lunch time and I told him we needed to go because I wanted to go by Circa 1857 and see Sally Fox Conklin who delivered the portrait to JoJo.  We hugged and he wanted to know when I would be back to which I laughed and said, “who knows when the universe will put us together again”. Martha and I left to  grab some lunch of fire roasted oysters (so delicious) then off to see Sally.  When we got there she wasn’t in.  I told the woman working the counter that I was from NC and the one who had done the portrait and just wanted to hug Sally and thank her.  She picked up the phone and called and Sally came right down.  We were having a great visit when her husband called.  When she got off the phone she looked at me and said “wanna go see JoJo hang the chandelier he was working on?”  Uhhhhh are you kidding?  YES!

On the way over she told us that the chandelier was for an episode of Treehouse Masters (which I have been watching for a couple of years).  As it turns out it is the largest treehouse they have ever built and would be airing the end of February.

We arrived at a beautiful house over looking LSU lake to the hustle of people working on this jaw dropping treehouse.  I immediately started taking photos.  JoJo was on a ladder, saw me and said “Terie you’re here… are you getting all this?”.  I laughed and told him I would document them hanging this huge chandelier.

I stood there thinking to myself, how fortunate am I that David and I took that right turn at the Mississippi River that led me to this incredible artist, and my new friend Sally Fox Conklin owner of Circa 1857.

Another exciting day in South Louisiana and another memory and experience that is forever etched in my soul.

God is good and it’s always exciting to see where he will lead you.  It should remind us all that there are no mistakes in life, only experiences if you’re willing to look beyond what you think IS and open yourself up to so many possibilities.

Enjoy the slideshow below.

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FATE…it’s a beautiful thing

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Don’t you just love it when you start out your day with one intention and it happily takes an unexpected turn to a magical adventure leaving you blessed beyond measure?

This is exactly what happened to me and and my husband, David, when we took a little road trip to Baton Rouge on one of our last days in Louisiana. As many of you know, and others will find out, I like to take back roads that give me a chance to explore and find the unexpected. Friends in Hammond, Louisiana designed a route for the trip to Baton Rouge that we hoped would do just that.

Though the trip was pleasant, we didn’t find anything truly special on the way to town. Who knew that making the simple choice between a right or left turn at the Mississippi River could have such an impact on the rest of the day!

We chose right and before long we were in an industrial part of town. David thought we might find an abandoned business or building that would be interesting. Just then, something caught my eye and I told him “You need to turn around because I think I just saw a huge metal head”!

Not only was there a 7’ metal head, but beside it was a 13’ Indian warrior. There wasn’t any one around to ask about the sculptures, so we continued on our way. Ahead down an alleyway were several more metal art pieces. Just then, a man appeared and David asked, “Are you the wild man that created all this art?” The stranger’s face broke into a great big smile and he said,  “Yes, I’m Joseph Jilbert.”

This was the beginning of a day full of surprises and great blessings…a magical day!

Joseph, or JoJo as his friends call him, took us into his studio and started telling us about his art, moving from piece to piece with such enthusiasm and excitement. The energy and true love he had for his medium – scrap metal, was quite overwhelming. His work is intricate and complex, not what I would associate with scrap metal. One piece in particular caught my eye – a 6’ piece that holds a special place in JoJo’s heart. There was a sad and moving story behind this piece. It memorialized his place and time in New Orleans during the horrific hurricane, Katrina. His story of that day and how the sculpture reflects the loss of homes and souls gave me chills.

He took us outside to see a motorcycle that was 14’ long, had three seats, about 15 mirrors on the handlebars and 10 or 12 tail pipes! It was totally made from scrap and had a “steam punk” vibe. The sculpture was commissioned by a Japanese motorcycle manufacturer for a tour.

They loved it so much that after the tour they gave it back to JoJo and commissioned him to build another that would be split in half so they could put an engine in it for the next tour. He is currently working on a 15’ man to put on the cycle.

As our tour of his studio continued, he told us some of the sculptures had been in movies, some had been commissioned, but I couldn’t get my mind off the Katrina piece. I knew his work commanded a high price, and I was afraid to ask what that piece might cost.

During the course of conversation, we mentioned that we were from North Carolina.  JoJo’s grandmother was full blooded Cherokee and had lived in Cherokee, North Carolina.  JoJo was half Cherokee Indian, which showed in his face. He seemed excited that we were from the state of his heritage. When I asked the price of the Katrina sculpture, his face once again broke into that big smile and he said “I’ll tell you what, since you are from the motherland, I’ll give you a discount”. Well as they say, he gave me a deal I couldn’t refuse.

While we were loading the sculpture into the truck, I asked him for a recommendation for a cajun food restaurant for lunch. And there it was again, that smile, and he said, “Come on, I’ll go with you!” At lunch, which was phenomenal, he told us his life story. He was an animated, fascinating story teller. There is no way I can adequately explain the energy and creativity that oozes from this man. He insisted on buying our lunch and gave me the autographed bill.

JoJo wondered if we had anything else planned for the day. Since we didn’t, he volunteered to be our tour guide and showed us around the city, visiting many of his pieces, some of which have been donated to the city of Baton Rouge. He is especially proud of some pieces that were in a park and his upcoming project involving putting a piece every two blocks in a neighborhood that is being revitalized and will be a major entryway into the city.

Another project that JoJo is involved with is called “Art & Seek”. He goes into schools and speaks to children about being a “green” artist. “Green” because all his art starts with pieces of scrap metal, rusted bolts, nails, nuts, or anything that is throw-away metal. During his visit, he asks students their favorite number and tells them to go find that many pieces of scrap metal, put them in a bag with their name and phone number, and drop them off at his studio. JoJo then makes a piece of art with the found scrap and donates it to the school to be auctioned off with the proceeds to fund arts for the school. The children get to find their pieces in the art – Art& Seek.

The tour continued with a stop at his house to see his piece “Seahorse”. It was incredible and one of his prized pieces. Next we went to Circa 1857, a business that specializes in art, antiques and architectural salvage. Several large pieces were on display outside the shop, and inside lots of artists were represented. A pottery heart that was half-glazed, half-unglazed, with the words, “and they lived happily ever after” inscribed on it caught my eye because it describes David and I perfectly. Turns out the owner of Circa 1857 was the artist and she has a  studio in Capitol Arts Studio which is Jo Jo’s newest dream that is coming to furition.

Because JoJo had become like a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, and the day had been so magical, I didn’t want to say goodbye. This is an artist that is humble – no big ego – but is sought after for his work. A Hollywood director, intrigued as we were about his life, is currently filming a documentary. I can’t wait to see the end product because then you will be able to experience Joseph Jilbert.

As we were leaving, Joseph asked if we had been to the capitol building. We explained that we couldn’t go now because we had that huge piece of art in the back of the truck. Just then, a car pulled up and JoJo introduced us to another friend. He was a past Deputy Secretary of State, knew the guards who would protect our sculpture, and would personally give us a tour of the capitol. We were persuaded, and I’m glad we went because it was a fascinating building with a history that made it well worth the trip. From the observation deck we saw all of Baton Rouge and the Mississippi River with all the casino boats.

What an amazing day, filled with new friends, great art, and not one, but two personal tour guides.

When I got home and reviewed my photos I decided to compose a collage of JoJo and his work as a gift. I only had one good photo of him, but it was one that would be a great base for the collage. The other pieces I chose to include were his favorite Warrior Gork (which stands in front of Circa 1857), another piece called Comet Catcher, and the piece that I had bought from him.

As with all the collages I create, there are hidden elements that become evident as you look through the piece. His lucky number is five, his passion for Art & Seek, and Circa 1857, where his art was first displayed, are all elements that were included. I chose to do a 30 x 40 canvas hoping that it will have a place in his Capitol Arts Studio. My only regret is that I could not deliver it in person. I contacted Sally from Circa 1857, and asked if I shipped it to her, could she deliver it and perhaps get a video of him receiving it.

Nothing makes me happier than doing unexpected things for people who have an impact on me.

I wanted to give something to this bigger-than-life artist who has given so much to his community. I feel blessed and thank the Creator for putting me in Joseph’s path.

David and I will never forget this day and I am so happy that Divine Providence made the way for me to have a piece of his art that I can look at and recall every sweet moment.

So, if you find yourself in a place where it seems like you are lost, or on a different road than you had intended, look around and don’t be in such a hurry to find your way out. You may be on the verge of meeting someone that will create your own magical experience.

To read more about JoJo click here

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Posted in Adventures

Should’a, Would’a, Could’a

 

 
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Why do we always seem to put off doing things “until the right time”?
 

I learned a valuable lesson (I hope) this weekend by finally taking photos of the abandoned Dover Yarn Mill in Pineville, NC.  My parents worked most of their lives in this mill so my sisters and I could have a good life.
 This mill was built in 1894 and was finally closed in the late 1980’s.  In it’s heyday, it was the heartbeat of the community and main source of income for many of the families in Pineville and one of the largest manufacturers of corduroy in the country.  It now stands as an ugly eyesore that is not only sad to look at, but is a stark reminder of how a once thriving cotton industry in the south is but a faint memory.
 My dad used to take me to the mill on occasion to let me experience an operating cotton mill and show me the process from raw cotton bails to the finished product.  My dad started his career fresh from the Navy in WWII working at the Receiving Department and when he retired he was the Director of Training & Orientation and was sought out for consulting work.  My mom worked in the office for many years but opted for a change and became a Supervisor over Inspection.  Yes, I grew up in a mill village where almost everyone was kin, and if they weren’t you still called your elders Aunt or Uncle.
 

So that gives you a little background and lets you know that that mill is part of who I am.  I wish I had been able to photograph and document the entire life of the mill.   My regret is that I waited this long to photograph it since the current owner has stripped everything of historical value from it and caused quite a bit of anger and controversy.
 

Saturday my friend and photography buddy, Curt Hathaway, called me and said he needed some creative inspiration.  We were trying to figure out where to go and I couldn’t think of anything around here until on the way to the supermarket I passed the mill.  Ok that’s it! I stopped and talked to the guy there and got permission for us to visit, called Curt and the results are below.
 

As Curt  and I wandered through the mill, I was lamenting the changes, and  in my mind I was seeing a room filled with machines that were turning cotton into corduroy.  All we physically saw were empty buildings.  I could close my eyes and see all those people, including my mom and dad, who had spent their entire lives working in this now heartless mill.  I can still hear those whistles that blew at 7:00 a.m, 12 noon and 3:00 p.m. letting everyone in the village know it was time to go to work, eat lunch and go home.

Why had I waited until it was basically destroyed to photograph it?  Well to put it mildly, I saw it everyday and I kept thinking I’ll stop by and get permission to go in and photograph it, but I never did.  Now the owner is tearing down parts of it and I realized that my time is running out.

It was bittersweet because I kept thinking to myself, why, why did I wait so long? and yet I’m glad that Curt called and gave me the opportunity to finally get inside and take some photos.

Lesson learned…quit putting off that photography trip or that abandoned piece of history that meant something to you or someone you’re close to because tomorrow it may be gone.

As a little bonus, when Curt and I were walking up the receiving ramp I had a moment of seeing my dad. I pointed out a spot where a photo of him and a guy that worked for him was taken in the 50’s which I decided to include in my photos.

If you are interested in seeing a cottonmill in production click here
 
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Posted in Abandoned

And Along Comes an Orange 40’s Panel Truck

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Gosh, where has the time gone?? I have done very few photography outings this year and I have really missed it. Life has a way of redirecting you at its own whims, but I am getting back to the photography in this post.

 

I finally took a group of photographers to the Red Cross Community Store in Stanley Co, NC two Saturdays ago. The store isn’t about first aid supplies, it is a store built in the early 1900’s in the community of Red Cross. Red Cross was named from the red clay that became very slick and hard to negotiate during bad weather. This store is full of all kinds of interesting and eclectic “stuff” including a few old cars to photograph.

 

While we were there a guy came rolling up in a 40’s panel truck. He was looking for the owner of the store which is still owned and run by the family of the founder, and he was surprised at all the photographers. He asked me what we were doing and I told him I was an organizer for the Charlotte Photography Group out of Charlotte.  I was hosting 15 photographers in our group shooting all the great stuff at the store.

 

He introduced himself as Rick Allen, and told me he had a huge building full of old motorcycles, including some old knuckleheads, Indians and lots of other old Harleys. He told me we were welcome to come over and photograph his collection. Well, you can imagine I was beside myself. I told him that would be awesome and I could set up a photography outing for our members.

 

I called him that very next week I and took 15 photographers there this past Saturday. I can’t tell you how excited I was to get the opportunity to shoot some old motorcycles.

 

The place was better than I had imagined. It’s a huge building with various Harleys and Indians, including some from the 30’s, and there are even some choppers from the 70’s. There were also lots of parts hanging around. Rick, who bought his first Harley, a 1954 panhead, in 1973, had stories for all of them. You could tell how much he loves buying, restoring, selling and collecting these babies. Rick sells parts on ebay, you can find him at 1936flyingcloud, his ebay seller name.

 

He was the most generous person allowing us carte blanche to his building, and believe me we were all just as excited to shoot them as he was to own them. I wish I had taken the time to write down some of the stories so I could link them to the photos. I’ll do a better job next time.

 

I have included just a few of the photos that I took that day at the end of this blog post. As you can see I spent most of my time doing close up shooting because of all the great details of the motorcycles that were interesting.  Stay tuned for my next outing when I will spend more time shooting the bikes themselves.   I will definitely take another photography group there because this place is like nirvana for someone like me. 

Thanks to Rick Allen, and his wife Janet, for allowing us the privilege of photographing his collection.

 

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Posted in Uncategorized

Saying Goodbye…

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Well goodbye, adios, adieu, 2013.  Loved parts of you, hated parts of you and now we’ll only look back for a second and just, as the Panthers say, “Keep Pounding”!

 

I have mixed emotions about 2013.  It started out as a new adventure with David and I moving to Dublin Georgia in February, my mom getting sick and passing in August, becoming caretaker to my 95 year old aunt with dementia, three major events that changed life as I knew it.

 

The move to Dublin (if you’ve read my blog post) was eye opening in many ways.  I left my family, myfriends, and all that is familiar and moved to a quaint and unhurried way of life full of some surprises.

 

I soon found out that Middle Georgia offered a plethora of opportunities to feed my love of abandoned places and Remy, my wire fox terrier,  and I did our fair share of wondering the back roads of Laurens County.  I also had some great road trips from Hawley, Allentown and Philadelphia PA with Jan Baucom, to Cataloochee Valley, NC, Cades Cove, TN, Kite, Swainsboro, Wrightsville GA with Maxine Gordon, as well as most of Middle Georgia with Remy and David.  I hope you will go to the archives of post to read about some of my finds.

 

I also met some great people who welcomed us into their lives and homes and for that I am grateful.  Mike and Cheryl Brooks and Diane Clarke thank you for making us feel at home.  My time in Dublin was cut short just as I was getting to finally find some kindred souls when my mom became ill and I had to return home.

 

Loosing a parent is one of the most surreal moments in one’s life.  When the people who birthed you, nurtured you and gave you the life you know becomes ill, you feel helpless to care for them as they always cared for you.  Suddenly time rushes at you like an out of control train, one minute you feel like everything is in slow motion like Keanu Reeves dodging bullets in The Matrix, and the next like riding one of those bullet trains in Japan reaching speeds that seem unfathomable.  My mother was a strong and healthy woman that walked 2 miles everyday until 6 weeks before she died.  My sisters and I all have different parts of her personality in us and now that she is gone those are the pieces that will remind us of who she was and the impact she had on our lives.

 

Being a caretaker for my 95 year old Aunt Helen with dementia is proving to be the most monumental challenge I have.  I am learning a lot about this debilitating disease and my heart goes out to those that have family members that are suffering with it.  I have come a long way in this process and am finally getting a handle on it to help me and my Aunt Helen.

 

I have always been a “living in the moment” kind of person.  My mom and dad used to get so aggravated with me about it because they were planners of the future.  They had planned on doing so much after retirement but sadly my dad passed away before any of that was fulfilled.  Shortly after my dad died my mom looked at me one day and said “Terie, I think you might have had it right all along.  Dad and I planned to travel and do so many things, but now he’s gone and we didn’t get to enjoy any of our retirement plans together.”  After that anytime my sisters or I would be on the fence about doing something that we could put off until later, she would say, “Do it now while you can, don’t wait and regret your decision.”

 

So 2014 I’m ready for you and all you bring to my plate.  Hopefully I will eat all the portions and savor each one, even the ones that taste bad.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is a greater master plan for my life than I could ever dream for myself.  If I didn’t believe that, I could never believe that a boy from Texas would find his way to my street and 6 months later become the best husband, friend, lover and cheerleader I could have ever imagined.

 

To my husband David, thank you for another great year of always being there for me and your constant and unwavering support.  Even though we faced some major challenges the one thing I could always count on was you.  I love ya babe!  Here’s to great things in 2014.

 

To all my photog buddies, I can’t wait to experience all the new photography opportunities we will have in the coming year and hopefully I can share some of those together with you.

 

To those of you that have viewed my work, read my blog and continue to support my vision, thank you.  You may not realize how a simple comment or “Like” means to me, but before this year ends I want you to know how much I appreciate you and the time you spend here with me.

 

So…2014  I’m another year older and wiser with a few more scars and scrapes but I’m here and raring to go.

 

Are you ready?

Posted in Uncategorized

You Never Know…

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My home town, Pineville, North Carolina is a small town, but it is really close to Charlotte, NC.  When we moved to rural Georgia, I missed having access to the major department stores, restaurants, my friends, and most of all, my photography group.

I felt like I had been whisked back to a much simpler, less harried way of life.  As I settled into this different way of life I began to discover how much real rural country there was to explore.   There was an abundance of abandoned farmhouses for me to photograph.  You literally could not go 5 – 10 miles without seeing an abandoned farmstead.    My dog, Remy, and I started driving around to small towns and down back roads to see what we could find.

One outing with my husband, David, included a stop at a garden store.  The store had quite a display of boots which we thought was a little unusual.  One of the store employees came over to tell us  “All those are snake proof”.  Since that sounded important, we decided to ask, “What types of snakes do you have in this area?”  His list included: Copperhead, Cottonmouth Water Moccasin, Eastern DiamondbackRattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Pigmy Rattlesnake, and Coral Snake!

OMG!  I’ve been tramping around all these abandoned houses in low rise hiking shoes!  Needless to say this knowledge has cut into my exploring a little.  I started looking for snake chaps right away.  I also realized that I couldn’t go out alone anymore, because if I did perhaps get bitten, I would be so far away from any help that I could die.  Now that’s a sobering thought.

Every time I talked with one of my photography friends I would tell them about my adventures.  I was sure they thought I was exaggerating because coming from the Charlotte area, you just can’t imagine there would be so much to explore.  Finally, my friend, Maxine Gordon, decided tocome down and spend a week with us and ride the roads with me.  Max is a great navigator and has a secret weapon called the Gazetteer Map.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have a Gazetteer for Georgia.

We made do with a county map and started on US 1 in Augusta and going through Wrens, Louisville, Bartow, Wrightsville and finally Dublin.  All these small towns were very interesting, especially Bartow, which is abandoned.  We found what appeared to be a huge old general store, and we visited a Revolutionary War Graveyard.

The next day we drove to Milledgeville, the capital of Georgia during the Civil War.  Along the way Max foundlots of potential roads for us to explore.  She taught me that the names of the roads often held clues to what we might find.  Road names with ‘Mill’ in them often led to an old mill.  We also stopped in Gordon, McIntyre and Irwinton.

During our back road journey we got lost on a long dirt road.  Off in the distance, on another dirt road, we saw a tractor and driver.  We drove down to meet them and get some directions.  As we got closer, we realized it was a tiny, little woman on a big, older model Ford tractor.  Max and I looked at each other…OMG this was the icing on the cake!  There she was in a dress with boots, and not one, but two sun bonnets and cheeks so rosy that it appeared she had just been told something very scandalous and was in full blush.

She was smiling and I said “Hi” and I just couldn’t help telling her how beautiful she was.  She really blushed and her smile got even bigger.  I asked if I could take her photo, and she looked so shy and said, “Well, I guess.”  I snapped away afraid the moment would be lost.

As I sit here writing this now, I wish I had gotten out of the jeep and really taken some more thoughtful photos.    Anyway, we asked for directions, and she gave them, and off we went.  I look back now and a thousand questions come to mind;  how did she get up on that huge tractor, did she livealone so far removed from any town, did she farm, where was she going, what was her life like?  I would give anything to sit down and talk with her.

Max and I had a great  trip.  We saw some cool places, took some great photos, and had a run-in with a security guard at a huge abandoned VA Hospital.  The guard said, “I know you’re not taking pictures, are you?”  To which we politely said, “We are on our way out”.

For me, I will never forget the tiny woman on the big Ford tractor with the double sun bonnets, rosy cheeks and huge smile because if nothing else, she will remind me to slow down and seize the moment, because more than likely there is a story right in front of you!

I hope you enjoy the photos below of our trip.  Be sure to go to the prints tab to see a few of the photos that I made into digital art.
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Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Accidents

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A photograph of a beautiful old house not far from Shelby, NC, caught my attention recently, so my husband, David, and I decided to take a little road trip and see if we could find it.
We struck out on our adventure and what do you know, happy accident after happy accident we ended up right beside it.
The first happy accident was the chance discovery of an old cotton mill. Being a girl from Pineville, NC, I grew up with a cotton gin practically in my front yard. I had to stop and see if the gin was still functioning. The second happy accident was the turn that took us towards the gin, took us right beside the house we were looking for!
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Posted in Uncategorized