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Archive for July, 2008

There are moments, forever to remain inexplicable, when a certain harmony seems to descend upon the scene, some divine unity that briefly blends me into the habitat and lets me enter the forbidden sanctum of the [natural] world, … Then the pictures I came to get seem relegated to a subordinate place, mere mementos of a loveliness that only pure memory can recall.

—Gordon Sherman
(Original from “With One Eye Open”
Birder’s World, November/December 1988 )

West, Larry and Julie Ridl, “Afterword,” How to Photograph Birds, Stackpole Books, 1993, Harrisburg, PA

_______

First and foremost, I am a nature lover, observer and conservationist. Second, I’m a photographer and illustrator. I can’t tell you the number of times that I, just like Gordon Sherman, have put down the camera or the sketchpad to simply “take in and enjoy” the sight of a beautiful sunrise, or to look closely at the way in which a pussy willow collects fine dew drops, or the way in which flower petals “shimmer” in sunlight as if dusted with a silvery powder, or, even the way in which a single droplet of water reflects light in much the same way as a multifaceted diamond reflects light.

Yet, when I have put down my camera or sketchpad, when I have collected “mementos” in my memory rather than record the scenes before me on film, I have never felt even the slightest bit of guilt about doing so. So, I ask you then, why is it that I feel such a sense of guilt if I don’t blog often enough? And, by often enough, I mean the “recommended” two to three times a week that so many “blogging experts” purport to be the absolute minimum that any serious blogger should aim for! This blog was, after all, meant to be a personal one. In fact, I’ve noticed that even business or professional bloggers don’t always post entries two to three times a week, some post entries as little as once a week!

And, I’m not the only blogger who seems to feel such guilt when not blogging. Take, for example, aullori who, needing to take a break due to tendonitis in her right elbow, apparently found it necessary to post an entry that she called slight pause, writing that “hopefully no one is offended …” if she took a little time off.

Still, a solution never occurred to me and I, like so many others, would simply keep making my apologies for not being the “dutiful” blogger that I felt was expected of me. Until, that is, while perusing “other” blogs, I noticed some with a button in their sidebars with the letters B.W.O. Curious, I then clicked on the button and was brought to a site called tartx with the title of the entry being called blogging without obligation. In the first paragraph, Tiffini writes “After coming across what seemed to be the 4000th or so post on someone’s blog starting with ‘I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile.’ … I am thinking that no one should utter those words again … and with that thought I give you Blogging Without Obligation.”

Tiffini then proceeded to list the following reasons why no one should feel guilty about the amount of blogging that they choose to do. They are,

  • Because you shouldn’t have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill.
  • Because it’s okay to just say what you have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine. Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine.
  • Because it’s okay to not always be enthralled with the sound of your own typing.
  • Because sometimes less is more.
  • Because only blogging when you feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of your blog.
  • Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone.
  • Because for most of us blogging is just a hobby. A way to express yourself and connect with others. You should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. Just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be “bloggable.”
  • Because if you blog without obligation you will naturally keep your blog around longer, because it won’t be a chore. Plus, just think you will be doing your part to eradicate post pollution. One post at a time …

I couldn’t agree with her more! As a matter of fact, I can’t tell you what a great sense of relief that I experienced after reading this post.

Tiffini has made a bunch of logos or buttons, inviting anyone who “feel[s] the same way [to] feel free to grab a logo, …” You bet I grabbed that logo!

I’d like to thank Tiffini for letting us inconsistent “guilt ridden” bloggers “off the hook” so to speak and for allowing us that sense of relief to continue on Blogging Without Obligation.

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Whoa! I sure can tell by my blog stats that I haven’t been blogging for a while! I’ll give a brief explanation for my absence in a bit. But, hey, first things first! Let’s start with revisiting a couple of my past entries like the one I called A Confederate Soldier.

William Buckner Taylor was described as a young man of “light complexion, light hair and gray eyes, his height was 5′ 5 1/2 inches.” When he enlisted at “Pinner’s Point, Norfolk County, … VA on February 19, 1862[,]” he was just 18 years old and listed his occupation as a laborer.

Mr. Taylor was first captured on “July 3rd, 1863 at Gettysburg and sent to Point Lookout, Maryland[.]” On February 18th, 1865, he was exchanged but then recaptured “on April 1, 1865 at Five Forks, and released on June 20, 1865 from Hart’s Island, New York.”

Where Mr. Taylor lived and worked, met his wife and raised his family between 1865 and 1900, I cannot say at this time. However, in the 1900 census, Mr. Taylor is listed as a stone mason and widower, “age 59, birth is listed as Feb 14, 1841[.]” This means that he should have been 21 years old instead of 18 years old at the time of his enlistment and that the date on his headstone is incorrect too. But, if you’ve ever tried researching your own family history, you would know that these discrepancies are quite common.

Living in his household in Topsfield, MA, according to the 1900 census, were his children,

“Mary B Taylor, age 15, birth April 28, 1885, born in MA
Lilian B Taylor, age 13, birth November 20, 1887, born in MA
William O. Taylor, age 6, birth March 27, 1894, born in MA”

And, by the 1910 census, William Buckner Taylor was listed “as a boarder in the home of Norman McLeod [in Topsfield], his age is listed as 69.”

Mr. Taylor passed away in 1911 and while he is buried in Topsfield, MA, “[t]here is a memorial marker to him located in Oak Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va.”

Oh yes! About that grave marker … this “is a military headstone, provided by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. They will provide a headstone when one is not present for a veteran of the Civil War, both Confederate and Union, … [although] who requested it, I can’t tell you, … [i]t could be that a Son’s of Union Veteran’s could have requested it.”

—Cynthia Buck-Thompson [Personal email, June 8 and 9, 2008]

***

Cynthia Buck-Thompson is a Civil War Living Historian as well as “the family genealogist.” Her husband reenacts with the 9th Virginia, Company B as well as Artillery for the Maryland Park Service.

I’d like to thank Cindy for all the work she did to answer my questions, every bit of the information listed here has been provided by Cindy.

***

Another entry that I’d like to revisit is the one that I called Spring Greens, especially, the part in which I mentioned the rhododendrons at Bradley Palmer State Park. They weren’t in bloom back in April and, thus, I was unable to post any photographs on my blog. So, I wrote “I promise not to let you down. I will keep track of their progress and take many photos to post when the time is right.”

Well, I did keep track. The “buds” seemed to be many, the only “flaw” I expected was the fact that some heavy pruning had been done among the lower branches. Still, new growth was appearing and I fully expected that the shear number of blossoms would be enough to “detract” from the pruning.

Unfortunately, by mid-June, when the parks’ rhododendrons should have been in all their glory, … well, … much to my surprise, not to mention my disappointment, there were barely a handful of blossoms! Oh, there were plenty of buds that had opened up, but few of those buds had any blossoms to show. I just couldn’t believe my eyes!

Perhaps, even stranger still, was the fact that, back in April, I had taken a couple of cuttings from the rhododendrons. (Now, before you all come down on me for taking cuttings of plants in a state park, please remember that these rhododendrons are hardly “wild.” Bradley Palmer State Park was once the estate of its namesake, “a noted attorney of the early 1900s who represented Sinclair Oil in the Teapot Dome Scandal and President Wilson at the Versailles Peace Conference after the First World War.” These rhododendrons were purposely placed to “line old carriage roads.” Besides, remember that the rhododendrons had already been heavily pruned! Apparently, though, their caretakers forgot to fertilize them. [Bradley Palmer State Park])

When I got the cuttings back home, I placed them in a vase then placed the vase in my bay window. But, for weeks, nothing happened. The cuttings didn’t die but the buds didn’t swell either. Then, about the beginning to the middle of June, suddenly the buds just shot up and opened up and I had rhododendron blossoms in my bay window!

Is that not weird or what? Did I have a premonition of sorts? I mean, really, the only other explanation that I can give you is that I did fertilize the cuttings, albeit with an indoor plant food, but still!

***

Okay, now about that brief explanation for my absence from blogging these past few weeks.

You see, I am fast approaching a very special anniversary. On August 27, 2008, I will become a five-year breast cancer survivor and, while I am just thrilled to pieces to be reaching this milestone, as I reflect on how far I’ve come in these past five years, I’ve also become acutely aware that I have not taken as good care of myself as I had promised I would do once I was finished with therapy. Oh, don’t get me wrong now, I haven’t fallen to pieces altogether! But, once in a while, we all need to step back and take a good look at where we’ve been and where we want to take our lives next. Fact is, this was just the perfect time for me to do that!

So, what more can I say? I’ve had my break from blogging, I’ve made some new plans, including some new ideas for this blog, and, … well, … I’m back! I sincerely hope you’ll all forgive me for my absence and, I certainly hope to see you all return too.

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