Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Recently attending a Bar Mitzvah in Illinois, hubby and I first stayed with his sister and bro-in-law in Indiana a couple of days. The first morning I rose to a quiet, sleeping house and tip-toed into the kitchen to make coffee. Rounding the corner a small, flickering glow on the counter caught my attention. A candle on a saucer. A tradition, I later learned. My brother-in-law lights a candle each year on the anniversary of his father's death. There are many traditions in the Jewish faith, and I find this particular one the most simple yet the most revered in my heart. The simple act of love and respect for a father long gone.

Mort & Linda

My Thanksgiving List

I am thankful for my lovely sister-in-law, Linda, who battled breast cancer and won this year. Her courage and strength shined like a beacon for us all. I love you dearly, Linda.

I am thankful for my wonderful brother-in-law, Mort, who has taught me all manner of things Jewish, who delights me with his sense of humor, who humbles me with his kindness. I love you, Mort.

I am thankful for my mother, her health, her wisdom, her wacky silly sense of humor and her friendship and love. I love you, mom.

I am thankful for my father who has kicked his stroke in the pants and came back full of piss and vinegar and ready to take on the world. You go guy. I love you, dad.

I am very, very, very, very thankful for my entire family tree on all three sides! My own branch of the tree (despite the nuts), my husband's branch and my step branch. Family is where it's at. I love you all very, very, very much.

I am VERY thankful for my friends!!!!! OMG, I could NOT live without my friends!!!!! (you know who you are!!!!) Love you guys!!!!

I am amazingly thankful for this blogging world and the friends I've made around the world. You each have taught me something, entertained me, enlightened me, warmed me. Thank you.

I am thankful for special remarkable friends.

I am thankful for all things green and growing, for the fauna of nature, for lakes and rivers and the night sky filled with stars.

I am extraordinarily thankful for the morning coffee and the evening merlot.

I am thankful for the roof over my head, pillow under my head, food that sustains me (too well, I'm afraid) and water to drink.

I am thankful for the freedoms we all enjoy in this great nation.

I am thankful for our dog Baylee and our morning walks. Love you, Baylee!

I am thankful for daughter Kayla who, despite her teenagerness, can be such a joy. She makes me laugh, we play puzzles together, we share a love of music and photography. I love you, Kayla.

I am thankful for my husband - my partner in life. Thank you for being you. I love you, Bobert.

There's more but it's time to refill my cup with warm, satisfying coffee.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


We arrived home safely after a whirlwind tour of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin....along with a very brief visit to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. The purpose of our trip was a family immersion into the celebration of Bar Mitzvah, which was joyous and even raucous at times. Family came from all over the country; New York, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois and other great states. There was much rushing to connect and bond again within the flurry of scheduled activities. When it was all over I wanted nothing more than to sit still in a quiet room, nothing moving about me. However, we'd promised to drive to Wisconsin immediately afterward to visit my husband's best friend from high school and his lovely wife. We were weary but looking forward to driving into Wisconsin, a state neither my husband nor I had ever seen. Because this northern experience has stayed with me on a visceral level I shall begin my travelogue at the end - Wisconsin.

The first thing I noticed were the trees. Huge, massive, stately, stout oak trees a type of which I'm not familiar. Their leaves were long gone and they welcomed us with huge arms outspread into wide, happy greetings. Rolling hillsides with old but well-maintained barns and homes and farms and beautiful fences. The architecture was stunning. It didn't take long to arrive at Lake Geneva. We drove along the lake enjoying the charm of that village and its citizens, who were braving the chilled air by jogging and biking and walking along pathways. Before long we reached Williams Bay, where our friends reside. Folks, I am totally charmed by this point. I'm ready to move to Williams Bay and/or Lake Geneva.

Their house is a block or two from Lake Geneva. We are greeted by a massive tree of their own, variety unknown. They've only been here a couple of months and are still getting to know the area. I asked Sky to stand in front of this wonderful tree that's in the corner of their lot to give perspective.

What is this beautiful tree? It has bark much like a shagbark hickory, but it isn't a hickory.

Sky loves this tree and I do, too.

After some serious tree hugging I found these lovely, exquisite leaves on the ground. Oak leaves? What tree do these belong to? Anyone? There was no choice but to bring some home with me, tucked gently into a book so they'll remain flat. These are the most beautiful leaves I've ever seen.

Leaving the leaves behind, we strolled a block to the iconic Daddy Maxwell's for breakfast. It was as Christmasy on the inside as it was Thanksgivingy on the outside. Very unusual place - great breakfast. I highly recommend it.

We were in Wisconsin less than 24 hours but are already planning a return visit and longer stay. A born and bred Southerner I've always been enchanted by the North and Midwest. (And Southwest for that matter) Never been to the Northwest but aim to. Our country is glorious in its diversity, but I'm thinking right now that Wisconsin is just a little slice of heaven. Hubby and I both loved the feel of the place, loved everything about it. Wisconsin - you rock.

Feeling adventurous we decided to drive home through Chicago. It couldn't be that bad, could it? As our daughter used to say when she was a toddler - NOT NO MORE NOT NEVER AGAIN!

So, we're HOME! I've about 2,000 photos to process. We had great fun!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pause for the Cause

Hi folks. I'm in a hotel in Illinois. We traveled up I-65, dodging copious huge trucks and wacky drivers to settle in the Land of Lincoln until Monday. My blog will be updated as I can but currently I've no way to post photos.

We are attending a Bar Mitzvah on Saturday. For the uninitiated, a Bar Mitzvah celebrates a boy becoming a man in the eyes of the Jewish community. I'm sure I've said that completely wrong since I'm not Jewish, but that's my layman's wording. This is my second such event and I'm looking forward to it. What these boys (and girls in the case of a Bat Mitzvah) do to prepare for these celebrations is mind-blowing - to me, anyway.

When I return I'll post some photos and stories and probably even tell you something important. We'll see how it all goes. In the meantime be good and take care of each other and of our earth.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What's in a name?

(Photographer unknown)

I've signed up for Google Analytics which provides endless fascination every morning over coffee. The Giraffe Head Tree blog is one of the sites I registered, more out of curiosity than anything else. This morning's coffee survey was most humorous! The Giraffe Head Tree is, as you all know, a special Shagbark Hickory on the bank of our lot overlooking the lake. Read this post to know why the tree is special and why my blog is named after it.

At that time, as a blogging newbie, I never ever thought of people searching the Internet for various data. Here are the top keyword searches that brought people to my blog:

Giraffe favorite tree
Giraffe Head
Giraffe tree favorite
giraffe's favorite tree
"head tree"
first giraffe pictures in 1800
giraffe hug tree
giraffe in a tree
giraffe murrini
giraffes what tree do they love
photography don't tree out of head
picture with people standing and heads formed into trees artist
round head tree
tree in head

My heavens. Googling those same phrases myself I found that none of those people found what they were looking for, I'm afraid.

The number one keyword search was "Gardening Blogs Alabama." Thank heavens I'm a member of Blotanical 'cause someone found me! LOL!

Why did you name YOUR blog as you did?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

...and now a word from our sponsor...

The Police Synchronicity Tour 1985

These are NOT nature shots, but they are wild! I've been looking for these photos for 6 years and FINALLY found them during our move - tucked in a basket high atop a cabinet covered in dust. Fortunately, they were in a jacket so the images were in good shape. What was I thinking?


Back in the 80's my good friend Cindy and I had the hots for The Police. Working at an ABC affiliate at the time, we decided to fashion some press badges for ourselves and see if we could get close enough to take some photos. We did, and we did! I'm sure the statute of limitations is over for fake press badge prosecution so I'm telling you the story here, today, and sharing some of the pics.

Having access to all manner of ABC stickers and logos and whatnot, and access to badge making materials we created our badges, poked holes in them and attached them to lanyards. Anyone really looking could see they were made by amateurs but in the dark of the arena we passed muster. Guards allowed us in the photographer's area. All I had was my trusty Yashica fully manual FX-2 35mm. We did a pretty good job considering we didn't know what we were doing.

Stewart Copeland

After the concert we tried to go backstage, but some stupid guard asked to see our A&M Records armband. "Cindy, do you have the armbands?" "No, Debi...YOU had the armbands!" "Um, Mr. Guard, won't our press passes do?" No. We didn't get backstage but we were happy nonetheless for it was a great adventure!!! De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da...that's all I want to say to you!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mooresville, Alabama

Another town I visited during my recent walkabout/driveabout was the historic town of Mooresville, Alabama. Mooresville is the first town incorporated by the Alabama Territorial Legislature on November 16, 1818. (I ripped that little piece of information right off their website) I've enjoyed visiting this town since I was a child. Nestled in a beautiful wooded area between Madison and Decatur, Mooresville is an active, working town. The architecture here is astounding. Some call it the "Williamsburg of the South." Driving in I noticed signs warning that photographers need a permit so I drove straight to the historic Post Office for information.

The lady there was very nice, gave me a permit application and granted me permission to take a few images since I was already there and assured her I wouldn't be selling them. She didn't ask me about blogging but I think this is okay.

I go gaga over old churches so my first image capture was of the Old Brick Church. Built in 1839 the front sports gorgeous columns covered with stucco. The bricks are made by hand. Inside is the original reed, or pipe, organ made in 1905. It's been a community church, Presbyterian, Methodist and once served as a Baptist mission. The United Methodist Church conducted a deconsecration service and passed ownership to the town October 1994. (another website diddy)

Instead of a cross the steeple supports a large wooden hand pointing to heaven. This is not the original hand. According to the website a replacement was carved and placed on the steeple during a ceremony in May 2005.

Down the road a piece is the Church of Christ. It was originally built in 1854 as the Disciples of Christ meeting house. General James A. Garfield, our 20th President of the United States, preached here in 1863.

Starlings flew past as I grabbed some images. There are many historical properties in Mooresville, each one just as beautiful as the next. The Mooresville Post Office is fascinating, being the oldest operational post office in the state of Alabama. I didn't get a photo of it or anything else that day out of respect for the nice lady who allowed me to take a few "snapshots" of the town. Check out the Mooresville, Alabama website for more details. They have walking tours and really gussy up at Christmas. I'll go take more photos then because I learned through the permit process that regular ole photographers like me do not have to have a permit. Dang...and the sugar maples were JUST RIGHT that day!!! Mooresville .... I'll be back!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Horizons

We moved out of the lake house completely this weekend. It's temporary. We have jobs to do elsewhere for about a year, but agree we will return to our little slice of heaven on the lake. A very nice couple has rented our house and for that I am extremely grateful.

I spent Sunday night all by myself. Saw some friends, sipped wine overlooking the water, and watched the moonrise. Monday morning's sunrise came cold and clear. Jumping out of bed, the camera and I stole outdoor into the chill. Aperture wide, the railing my tripod, we got several good shots of the last lake sunrise - for me, anyway, for a while.

The Giraffe Head Tree shall serve as sentry now overlooking the buckeyes, oaks and hickories, the red headed woodpeckers and their offspring, the eagles and ospreys, the mergansers, loons, herons, ducks and pelicans. Too, the GHT shall oversee lake operations of various fishing boats and barges, yachts and sailboats, powerboats and trawlers that pass by in the channel. I've charged the GHT with keeping the raccoons and armadillo under control as well. Allow the great horned owls to land unimpeded and keep our guests entertained with sleeping squirrels along your foreleg.

We'll be back, Giraffe Head Tree.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I had Bo on my mind the other day during my walkabout. She had taken the most striking photo of Middle Earth in the form of the mossy hillside base of a tree's winding roots, it's stout trunk proudly rising from the middle. That photo lives within me - it is so beautiful. Bo has a particularly gifted sense of imagery and I encourage you all to visit her blog, Seeded Earth, when you can, if you haven't already.

During my walkabout through tree-lined paths, along riverbanks and shorelines, sheltered from winds by the canopy overhead I found myself looking for similar sights. Where was my Middle Earth here, along this rocky shoreline?

These tree roots may not be as green and mossy,but I found them very interesting. The Tennessee River shoreline is rocky and strewn with leaf litter, fishing lures and fish bones.

Roots of hackberry, maple and a variety of trees have made their way here. Their roots wind and twist and turn, over rocks and through the leaves down into the sandy soil making wonderfully intricate patterns above the earth.

There are no hillsides for hobbit holes but I'm thinking goblins might like it here.

Peekaboo! Do you see the goblin? They're very good hiders, goblins are. Skilled at camouflage it's difficult to spot them among the twisted system.

The roots look like lightning bolts zigzagging across the fallen leaves. I bid goodbye to the goblin roots and look forward to a return visit when the American White Pelicans come later this year.


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