20 October 2014

Lynchburg


It has been a goal since moving to Virginia to take day and weekend trips to explore this beautiful and historic state. Alas, the farm and life have prevented the regularity of these peregrinations but a golden opportunity arose last week to spend a day in Lynchburg, a town totally unknown to Mr. Fuzzy, other than two good friends were raised there.

Thomas Jefferson had his second home near the town and wrote: "Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be useful to the town of Lynchburg. I consider it as the most interesting spot in the state." Well, it seems to still be a fetching city based on last week's visit.



Time was limited and following a long-held philosophy of learning more about a smaller area rather than skimming a large area, Mr. Fuzzy stayed in downtown. The downtown is intact and vibrant with excellent preservation of old (pre-1900) buildings, all of which were occupied and in fine condition.

There was an classy coffee shop (oh, that Floyd should possess such a space) with adult patrons in a subdued but thoroughly interesting atmosphere. But rather than show you the interior, their front door summarizes the business. Click to enlarge the photo to be able to read the bottom sign!















Bailey-Spencer Hardware has been in its location for most of a century and is a treasure trove of new old stock and items required to restore historic architecture. The president, Scott Pearl, waited on Mr. Fuzzy. This was a step back into time when most facets of life were more appealing.





A door or two away was the most wonderful book store Mr. Fuzzy has wandered into since Betsy's in Cupar. Although no book purchase was made, an hilarious cat-humor greeting card came home, so good it is likely to be framed rather than sent. The proprietor's lap was occupied by a wee black and white cat. This minimalist space was soothing, quieting, relaxing and made the customer want to spend the day searching for great literature.




Next stop was the Old City Cemetery, opened in 1806 as a public burial grounds. Unlike many old cemeteries, the tomb stones were very modest. There is a large section where the Confederate fatalities from the military hospital are buried. After one battle alone, 6,000 Confederate casualties were sent to the hospitals there. Before the War had ended, more than 20,000 soldiers had been treated there, about 3,000 succumbing to their wounds and diseases. It is not depressing per se, but sobering, to stand where they are interred.





05 October 2014

Monochromia

After the last several posts with autumnal coloration, perhaps you, dear reader, might enjoy resting your cones (color sensors in your eyes) and observe Mr Fuzzy's world in monochrome. Those of you who have known Mr. Fuzzy more than a decade will recall his 'arty' photography was always monochrome and he has rediscovered the joys and special aesthetic vision of monochrome with the Panasonic GX7 camera.

A few weeks ago, the talented photographer (and dear friend) Tillman Crane stopped in for a day. Mr. Fuzzy always learns at least one key operational concept of photography from Tillman and this visit was no exception. Watching Mr. Crane use his Fuji X Pro 1 camera, it was observed his viewing screen displayed the scene in black & white. Naturally, the inquiry was made: why and how? His answer swayed Mr. Fuzzy to experiment with the same method and below you may peruse some of  the better class of outcomes.


The Panasonic Lumix GX7C camera is a relatively new(2008)  format pioneered by Olympus and Panasonic denominated "micro four thirds."  Its a small sensor but still larger than those used in most compact digital cameras. In theory, sensor size is key to tonality (dynamic range), low noise, and other important variables in digital imaging. In practice, however, those apparent limits are barely noticeable. On the other hand, the small sensor allows for a much smaller camera body and commensurately smaller lenses, such that the system you carry weighs a fraction of the larger sensor-packing cameras. The night scene above was taken more than an hour after sunset; the eye could discern no tone int he sky whatsoever. This was shot on 'idiot' mode with the camera making all determinations. Hand held at 1/13 second. You may have another opinion but this seems almost miraculous to Mr. Fuzzy.

 


The fogs have been plentiful and of fine quality in the last few weeks. Some have laid for hours, some have evaporated with the first warmth of the sun, but all reveal new glories of Floyd county for those who wish to see them.

As always, you may click on any image to enlarge it, should you so desire.

Stay well and content yourselves.




30 September 2014

Early Reds

Autumn is here - at least if red leaves are an indicator. Strangely, the yellows are well behind the reds in coloring. The temperatures have warmed a bit again so it is not the crisp nights causing the transformation.

The Virginia Creeper (to the left) is as intense in color as I have seen in years. The dogwood (below) out in the large pasture has colored quickly and a has taken a deeper hue than typical. Most, but not all, of the dogwoods are especially well endowed with their signature red berries this season.













One of the 'tools' provided by nature and utilized by weather prognosticators in much of the eastern United States is the woolly web worm. Famous prophets keep their specific techniques secret but common wisdom notes the insects' color ratio, depth of color, numbers and activity levels. The greater the percentage of black on the worm, purportedly the worse the winter. Today Mr. Fuzzy saw the first one of the season and he forecasts bad news: all black, very large and slow.


In these parts, stink bugs are rampant, no end of trouble both domestically and in gardens. The little buggers (pun intended) prefer to winter indoors in tight places. They do not augur the form of the future winter but speak to its arrival date. Alas, they have been all over the window screens for perhaps ten days, a sign the cold temperatures may not be far away.

28 September 2014

Good golly, Miss Molly!


Miss Molly and Mr. Fuzzy on an old bootlegger's gravel road over the Blue Ridge

Due to a plethora of "exogenous parameters" in Mr. Fuzzy's life, this poor old gal (a 1940 Ford DeLuxe Coupe) has sat lonely and neglected in the garage for over two years. Sigh. When last running, she was about to receive brighter headlights for better night visibility and so she sat with her eyes on the floor, waiting for installation and the open road again.

After the resolution of the over-riding life distraction, it was time to turn back to Miss Molly. A special gift appeared in the form of my friend Allan, who is, among other talents, a superb designer and builder of  Classic American Hot Rods. In the blink of a metaphorical headlight eye, he had Molly ready to hit the road again. Although humid, the last two days have been without any threat of precipitation and cool so Miss Molly and Mr. Fuzzy have been reunited for an autumn tour. 




Allan on his BMW


Last night saw a very modest trip into Floyd for dinner, more or less a dry run to be certain there were no hidden problems due to the prolonged sitting. The petrol in her tank was probably two and a half years old but she started within five seconds of cranking that masterpiece of American design, a Chevy 327 engine, and roared into life as if she was a new car. On the return trip to the farm, she received ten gallons of fresh premium petrol and she purred all the way home.

This morning brought a second trip into town for the traditional Sunday breakfast with my buddy Mike. We decided a short tour after breakfast would be just the thing to bring the morning into clear focus. My thanks to Mike for taking this dandy image.

It is a great delight to have the opportunity to spend quality time with Miss Molly again. Thank you, Allan.





27 September 2014

Off color











Peak period is probably a long way away but the maples, gums and redbuds as well as some other species are turning rapidly in Floyd county and on the farm. Its been cool and damp which is supposed to be optimal for coloration. Let us hope for a spectacular autumnal display.



None of the maples at Stratheden have turned orange, like this one in a local garden supply business. Perhaps it is due to species or microclimates but those on the farm are all a deep red this year.

There is a tinge of yellow just beginning on most leaves of the forest dwellers. With good fortune, this will be a fine & brilliant fall season. Break out the popcorn and watch.




















26 September 2014

The New Tractor

Several perceptive folks have inquired about the size of the new Yanmar tractor. Yes,indeed, it is smaller than you might think but has nearly the horsepower of my venerable Ford 1710 (of about 1983 vintage) and is also a four wheel drive, necessary on land as steep as Stratheden. So, for those inquiring minds, here is a photograph showing the Yanmar next to the Sears riding mower.


For the photo-geeks viewing this, that image was taken with my new-to-me-but-used Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 camera acquired via eBay. The Fujifilm X20 camera which has produced many images on this blog has been a real trooper and is an amazing camera but the GX7 has many more useful features and is generally more powerful. The X20 is soon to be put out to pasture.