Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Going back from now to Fourth of Julys gone by...

Flag above the old Hamlet Bank Building on Main Street -- taken July 2009

Yes that date, is indeed 2011 which makes it easy to see that I've allowed this blog to hang in the balance for more than a few months.  In fact, it's now a total of a disgraceful 8 months.  Much of my hiatus still ties to the eye injury I mentioned in my last Seaboard Festival focused entry.  In fact, only in the past month or so have I been able to see well enough through my view finder eye to begin taking photos again.  And photos, of course, are a big part of this blog.  True, I have enough never been posted anywhere photos in my stash I could have continued.   At last count it was about 30,000.  But,  mind you, I take progressive shots (one after another, after another, after another, etc.) as part of the process I believe God inspired me to utilize to help rewire my brain from the effects of Epilepsy and a period of cluster seizures in early 2006 which did a number on the language region of my brain.  Which means part of the equation I use in blogging couldn't be done as it needs to be in order to go on my personal rewiring project without actually doing more harm.  It's a slippery slope fine line thing.  I haven't been fond of neglecting my rewiring project, but life happen sometimes, and I made choices not to trigger more damage.  So, regrets in what may appear as letting this blog go, I don't have.        

In a way, it's like the knee bone is connected the shin bone sort of thing in that photo taking and blogging go hand in hand for me.  Both serve a purpose and have been instrumental in helping me regain much of my vocabulary that was lost, and the ability to communicate effectively verbally and in writing... again.  Articulation has improved greatly, although, there are moments of stumbling and not knowing what or where my brain is going on a retrieval word focused mission.  Or, how that will play out orally or off the tips of my fingers.   Although, this blog isn't about my personal challenge and struggles in those aresa, it very much ties to ways God has used my passion (and my mother's) for Hamlet's future.  It has been a factor in my healing and rehab process.  It's  much like my work in canine rescue and my hands on tender loving care with my very own special needs rescues.  Together they have given me reasons to get up every day.  And to face the day along with the unique 24/7 challenges and push on and through while focusing my attention and at times drive, elsewhere.  But, enough about that!

There have been some other things to hinder my writing here, but as much as I believe in stating the un-saids at times.  Particularly to those we care most about, there are times the un-saids are the only kind and gracious route to take.  Just know without going into detail or specifics that my time spent away wasn't wasted and that Hamlet benefited from some of it in one way or another.  

So, what actually prompted this blog entry, like out of the blue?  Well, the red, white and blue when you really get down to it.  And thinking about our glorious nation and a little town that believes it can...

I spent all day yesterday going through Hamlet Fun Day - Fireworks photos that my husband, Steve, has taken over the past three years - 2009, 2010 & 2011.  I first concentrated on viewing and processing photos from 2010 that I had not yet taken the time to finish digging through.  Reasons explained above.  Then, last night I took on 2011's.  There were over 500 in all from 2010 and 2011.  Thankfully, I got on a fun roll and processed close to two hundred for album sharing.  Some of the shots from 2010 I still find very interesting and continue to captivate me.  They appear to provoke the same in others, as well, because the comments we've received have been beyond favorable.  One even from a dear friend whose an archival/vintage photo expert with ties to Ken Burns, of all people. 

Just below is one of the most special from 2010,  I think I'm drawn to it because it truly reminds me of days gone by, and simpler times, as well as old Polaroid Land Camera photos that my dad used to take.  I am pulled toward the beam of light moving right about 2/3 of the way from a brilliant fireworks blast (not showing) above the in the photo and is strikes down directly aligned with an old telephone pole.  As if it were pulled there for some reason, if only to capture my eye!  Then, the old pole to the far right, as I've mentioned before in this blog, it's another that reminds me of cross Jesus was crucified on around Hamlet.  The smoke makes it all dreamy and almost magically mystifying.  And those are only a few things that jump out at me when I look at this photo.  People have made jokes at the way I look at and describe photos, but again that's part of the rewiring process for me.  I look as closely as possible to discern every detail I can see, and the ones I can't see, also.  Each photo has a multiple stories... the one in view... the one that belongs to the one behind the camera... and at times the subject has quite a story, too! 

In some ways it reminds me of back in the day of drive-in movies, where all vehicles were pointed in the direction of the big movie screen to watch a new release, or a favorite again and again.  It was such fun, inexpensive, simple and casual entertainment to do with folks we enjoyed being around at its *very* best.  Much different than these days where everyone is attached to one or multiple techy devices doing their own thing for entertainment while together.  Some actually texting each other, rather than talking.  Or, communicating with folks off in the yonder, and Lord only knows where that is.  Anyway,  there is always lots of chatter and movement going on until the show begins.  Then, all eyes are focused and glued looking in one direction.   

Hamlet's fireworks show is no different.  The vehicles you see above are filled with adults of varying ages, teens, kids, babies and in some cases dogs.  They have snacks and drinks on hand to make the occasion even more fulfilling.  Or, would that be filling?  Some folks (and even dogs) are wearing red, white and blue to mark our nation's birthday.  The vehicles you see above are filled with smiles, laughter, and gleeful cheering in between hushed moments of expectation and anticipation as they relish in their front row seats.  Ooooooohs and ahhhhhhhs are echoing all over!  I could go on and on about what these photos represent.  But, it's the softness which gives room to my imagination, vs. a shot of a gorgeous work of fireworks art dangling in the air... I prefer the shots with telltale signs of joy filled people where I can envision the colors not reflected...

Yet, I certainly can give some metaphorical meaning for choosing the circle framed display of fireworks shot above, I'll spare you for now, and possibly forever.   And get on to the point of this blog entry that's come out of the red, white and blue... 

For the past three years my husband and I have been a part Hamlet's Family Fun Day festivities.  The first year, we simply took photos and sat with the hatch raised on the rear of our SUV facing the once a year evening show.  It was our first time ever taking pics of fireworks, and believe me, we were amazed that some actually came out.  In fact, surprisingly most did.  We didn't mingle, but certainly enjoyed people watching.  While Steve took photos of fireworks, I took candid shots of people.   It was our first time watching the fireworks in Hamlet ever together.  And, also our first time watching Hamlet celebrate the Fourth from the area in front of the Hamlet Historic Depot.  For me, it provoked memories of the last time I celebrated Independence Day in Hamlet during a visit to my cousin's when I was a girl who'd just turned 16.  I loved how the town seemed to gather together to mark our nation's birthday with old fashioned hometown-ish fireworks.  Growing up in Virginia Beach, I was used to watching the reflection of large fireworks displays over water, but in Hamlet, I see the reflection in the joy on people's faces.  Flash forward 40 years, and honest to goodness, the feelings I experienced four years ago were identical.  I guess there are some things in life that don't change the way they affect us regardless of our age.  Or, where we've been, or what we've done.  The very essence of those things are embraced for a lifetime, embedded in our minds, memories, and hearts.   Moments of renewal comes to us in the form of adding to the memories as times moves ahead marked by more special  'never ever forget' times.  One memory connects to another, to another.  With me they mesh together, but I prefer to keep each in tact as I lived it, otherwise, some of the specialness wears off.

Both the second and third years we were blessed to be able to be a part of the very small volunteer staff manning the Hamlet Historic Depot and the Tornado Building.  Both years we had the honor and privilege of working with Mr. Riley Lee Watson.  In our opinion, he's Hamlet's most valuable living artifact whose family represents over 200 years of dedicated service to the railroad.  As a railroad grandkid and niece, I admire that more than I can even begin to express.  It's hallowed common ground.  And Riley is always a pleasure and dear to work with any time, but on Fourth of July, it is something that we all have looked forward to doing together.  Similar to a family.

This year, however, we aren't going to be a part of things in Hamlet. Hence, the reason I dug through all of our photos related to Hamlet Fourth of July - Family Fun Day Celebrations to put together the album I was unable to create last year, just in the nick of time for this year.  In my mind, it was unfinished business, that sorely needed to be done.  So, even though we won't be amongst the crowd and mingling a bit with our friends  along Main Street, or spending special time with Riley, these photos to us capture the very spirit of the festivities.  And even though we won't be there tomorrow night, we will indeed be there in spirit and in our memories,  This flash slide show doesn't last very long, in fact for me it moves much too quickly to see all of the detail.   But, I've had to set it to auto because the feature when used in blogger can be a bit buggy.   And posting 59 photos in blogger would be a bear to do.   There are 59 photos in all with the first being the photo which appears at the top of this entry.  It's a from a series of several hundred "looking up" perspective shots I did along Hamlet Main Street to capture the amazing roof top and facade architecture which remains to this day from the early 1900s. 

Rather than post multiple photos of fireworks hanging in the air, this album was been created not to show off the captivating fireworks, but a community united together to celebrate the birth of our nation.  The majority of the shots included of the fireworks show a row of cars actually parked on CSX property.  Similar to my husband's shot above.   Like that one, it is one of many favorite spots where local folks congregate around the Hamlet Historic Depot area of Hamlet.  Cheers can be heard far and wide from the crowd over the loud pop as each pyrotechnic round is shot high into the sky and bursts into a brilliant lightening bug like huge display of various shapes and sizes. Wide eyed grins and smiles appear on all faces in attendance.  Then, a silent hush comes over the crowd in anticipation of the next pop!  It's a day where Americans can easily focus on the common ground we share with each other.  The common ground called freedom gifted to each us through the love of country, work and steadfast sacrifice of our founding fathers, military and public servants and their families.

It's a day we recognize that God has truly blessed America and blessed each of us for allowing us to be born as, or to become Americans.   Fourth of July aka Family Fun Day in Hamlet is a day celebrated like many small towns across the nation, where people come together in harmony to remember the freedoms we enjoy have come through battles, blood shed, including the ultimate sacrifice(s), and prices paid by countless patriots for well over two centuries now.  Personally, I've seen huge fireworks displays, but small town America captures the essence of this all important holiday in an indescribable way... It's not about amazing firework displays -- it's about folks coming together for one day, enjoying our freedoms together -- how our nation was birthed -- how we got 'here' and forgetting about everything else.  On July 5th, we can get back to the business of what tomorrow holds...

Happy Independence Day ~ 2012 ~ to all my friends and loved ones in Hamlet!  And with this blog entry, this blogging endeavor comes to a close.  I'm not totally ready to say goodbye to Hamlet quite yet, not until we move away forever.  But, I am ready to close a 3 plus year chapter in my life.

My thoughts, prayers and hopes for Hamlet's best will continue.  To those who mentioned this blog to me and have sent me notes and emails, there aren't enough words to thank you.  It's because you that I write this final entry...

God Bless...


Monday, October 31, 2011

A small town American festival ala Hamlet, NC... The Seaboard Festival

Seaboard Festival - October 29, 2011

First off, I'm blowing off the dust from this blog and in doing so, I'm going to knock the cobwebs off of Project Rewire, too by cross posting.  True, that's something, I don't often do.  Yet, it is fitting in this case.  Since I've had a few readers of both blogs contact me wondering what I've been up to this will take care of both spots simultaneously. 

Without getting overly verbose, suffice it say, due to a fairly serious eye injury which occurred on June 4, 2011, I had to step away from photo taking and blogging for a bit.  Make that an extended bit.  Which means my "Project Rewire" rehabbing/therapy efforts took an extended hiatus, too!

On my end, it's been yet another thing to push through daily since the cornea in my viewfinder eye found itself dead center in the way of a wayward tomato stake.   Long story short, I was as close as a person could get to a corneal implant without having to get one.  That close means the healing has been slow going.  But, steady and progressing on schedule.  Thank God!  What a blessing!  It's not been pleasant.  And it has been  challenging and painful at times.  Still is.  But, the what ifs are much much worse and has helped me keep it all in perspective.   I've tried off and on to take photos during my view finder eye's healing process.  However, it honestly hurt like the dickens, and taxed my other eye which has been in an uncomfortable perpetual state of strain since the injury.  Consequently, I've been forced to take it S-L-O-W.  Not push it.   In fact, I even had a new Canon point 'n shoot camera arrive a few days before the injury, that still sits untried out.  Hopefully, it won't for much longer.  

Anyway, what better day to test the waters again, so to speak; pull out my trusty "Brownie" as a dear friend of mine calls it, than Hamlet's Annual Seaboard Festival. I'm still having issues focusing as clearly as I could before, but I found I could actually see through the viewfinder again.  Which is HUGE!

For vendors, locals and visitors along Main Street, Hamlet, and for those of us who had to work during the festival all know, the day began windy, damp, drizzly, and chilly. It would have been the perfect Saturday to hide under the covers since we've yet again gone from Indian Summer like weather in the Sandhills of NC, to oh baby, it is brrrrr-isk outside! Fortunately, the sun finally broke through early afternoon, yet the chill of the wind continued throughout the day.

My husband and I, along with other Board Members and Volunteers of the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum were lucky in that we got to work inside our beautiful main museum building, which is the former Seaboard Airline Passenger Station, built in 1900, mind you.  Or, our Tornado Building.  Home to the full scale 1892 reproduction of the 1839 Tornado Steam Engine.

The heat wasn't on in either building, but compared to outside our digs and gigs couldn't be beaten. All in all, although our visitor numbers were off from last year (understandably) we had a steady stream of guests to welcome and greet throughout the day. Not one complaint was heard by anyone.  And we met some of the nicest folks who had returned to Hamlet for Hamlet High School's 50+ year reunion.  I'll never tell how many years!  But, for folks 75 years old, they didn't look a day over 50!  ;-)

I worked from 9:00 a.m. until after 5:00 p.m. with only a short break late in afternoon, so I decided to try my viewfinder eye inside upstairs to see if I could capture a few decent shots through a couple our very dense glass windows.  They're in an area upstairs called "Newton's Nook", even though "no relation", the view from those two windows are the best in the house for a bird's eye view of the happenings up and down Main Street, Hamlet, NC.  

I was surprised to capture a few decent shots with no reflection and only slight aberrations, that appear as if a soft focus effect has gone a little haywire.  But, not enough to trash the photos over, thankfully. Meaning, definitely okay enough to post here and share with a few others as a remembrance of the day.  Anyway, everyone who really knows me, knows that I don't claim to be a photographer, or even an amateur photographer. Ironically, too, the aberrations reflect sort of how I see out of that eye now if you up the blur factor just a tadsome.  I'm just a gal who takes pictures to help rewire her brain and I'm *all* about seeing beauty in the imperfections anyway.  Plus, I blog for rehab reasons anyway, why not add my endeavors to take decent photos again to it.   And folks in this case that means, I was literally blind in that eye for several weeks and now... I can see!  If I continue to be unable to focus like I used to, well, I shall figure out a way to work that problem out. 

Just a few simple shots to share of a small town American festival ala Hamlet, NC and mark my return to my "Brownie" and my blogs...

By the way, the Hayden Construction sign is in front of what was once the Historic Landmark Stinson Building, which is being given new life as the Hamlet Visitor's Center and as another annex to the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum Complex.  Obviously, Hayden Construction was given the contract to rehabilitate the old landmark.  It will be home to exhibits featuring Hamlet artifacts and memorabilia.  So, stay tuned here on All Aboard Hamlet.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hamlet - Train Town premieres tonight, June 7th, 2011, on UNC-TV's North Carolina Weekend...


Isn't that just the grandest news ever? 

Although I let the cat out of the bag via my entry I titled Who Wants to Know the Secret? here on All Aboard Hamlet, since I knew there was a press release in the works, I elected to keep the rest of the details secret.  And as I stated in my last blog entry, I'm not one to steal anyone's thunder, as I'm very fond of my own.  Consequently, I've been sitting on my hands for days waiting to share the rest of the big news here.  Now that the story made the front page in Kelli Easterling's article appearing in yesterday's edition of the Richmond County Daily Journal and I've set a 24 hour "come as you are whenever" Facebook Online Viewing Party in motion, finally feel it's the right time to share the details here, too!

North Carolina Weekend's segment entitled Hamlet - Train Town will premiere tonight, Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. on UNC-TV with an encore presentation tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m.  It gets even better.  Regardless of where you're located, Hamlet - Train Town will be available to watch from your computer, or any internet ready device with flash capabilities via the link below:

As far as when it will hit the online viewing link, I'm not sure as yet.  But, when I know, you can trust that I'll update here and via the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum Facebook Page, too. 

I can't even begin to convey how excited I am for Hamlet over this incredible opportunity.  Nor, how thankful I am that others from across the state and beyond its borders will get to see some of the reasons Hamlet captured my heart as a little four year old girl.  And why 54 years later, my heart is still very much tied to it.

Also, I can't express what joy this has brought my 91 year old mom.  She's one of the reasons I write this blog, as I've shared in the dedication.  Her dream for years has been for Hamlet to return to its glory days, and this is yet another sign that it's very much on its way. 

My personal hope and dream is that Hamlet - Train Town will be a stepping stone to other film opportunities both documentaries and feature films.  It's more than a post card perfect venue and setting.  What could make a more gorgeous or fitting backdrop to a movie set in heydays of passenger train travel?  I also hope and pray that this four minute segment will land Hamlet on the map as a tourist destination for individuals, groups, and the tourist industry in and of itself.  For train enthusiasts, railfans, history buffs and for those who love small town America, Hamlet is a must see... must do... must visit... must experience kinda place.

Fans of Hamlet, and those with heartstring ties to it, like me, please help spread the news about UNC-TV's North Carolina Weekend's Hamlet - Train Town and the wonderful opportunities if can offer.  For such a show to take an interest in Hamlet, is a God send.  My desire is for it to be such a huge success, that Our State will want to film Hamlet next!  And your feed back and comments here and on Facebook can help make that happen.

Isn't it time for Hamlet to reemerge from the fog of its years of economic down turn and become one of the number one tourist venues in NC?  I think it is.  What about you? 

Yet, even in the fog, there is breathtaking beauty depending upon your perspective or view of life and what it has to offer.

Please note: The aerials appearing in my blog entries, such as the two in this entry, and along the side panel were all taken by me. There's been some suggestions that they perhaps were taken from a bridge that doesn't exist which gave me quite a chuckle.  Most were shot between an altitude of 350 feet to 600 feet above Hamlet.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another secret revealed... one of my photos is appearing on a new Oprah Winfrey Network show!!!


                                  Small Town America ~ Main Street Hamlet, NC style! 

I can *finally* let the cat out of the bag about my pretty little photo above.  It's part of the open for a brand spanking new reality show just now premiering on the Oprah Winfrey Network called Carson Nation.  The premise of the show is that Carson Kressley travels around the USA to give make overs to very deserving individuals.  Talk about a heart warming and wonderful thing! 

Anyway... my pretty little photo was discovered on this very blog by a designer with the Farmer-Brown Production Company in Los Angeles sometime back in February of this year.  They wrote to me on Valentine's Day to see if I was interested in allowing them to use it for a new show which would soon be appearing on the OWN.  The subject line in their email simply said, "Beautiful photo".  This immediately caused me to scratch my head and wonder which photo?  Which blog?  Was it here on All Aboard Hamlet?  Or, on my home blog, Project Rewire, as both contain a volume of what I call my therapeutic photography?  Being such a shutterbug, I actually had to ask for a link to the photo.  As soon as I saw it, it was easy to understand why they thought it would "look perfect representing the type of small town America that Carson visits".

As one who believes in promoting Hamlet any way I can, it's not an opportunity I would turn down.  So, of course, I said, "yes, absolutely"!  How could I not agree?  I also made sure to run it by Hamlet City Manager, Marchell Adams-David, to see if she would be on board with the idea of a glimpse of Main Street Hamlet appearing on the OWN.  And she had no hesitation, nor reservation whatsoever.  Admittedly, I was a wee bit concerned about the scaffolding appearing in the image beside the Lackey Building.  Scaffolding that was ironically used during the historic building's extensive exterior restoration aka make over to bring it back to its original beauty of yesteryear.  In fact, it was actually the shot I took to mark the ending of the project as I'd followed the progress from start to finish.  Even though I knew it could be easily edited out, it was nice to know the photo appealed to them in spite of it.  As I've had people with critical eyes point the scaffolding ouot to me, as if I wasn't aware it was there.  No, it was not a faux pas.  I'm very deliberate about what I shoot.  It's all part of the way I use photography as a rehab tool.  Always.  And evidently, as well as thankfully, not everyone is looking for the perfect photo edited picture.

This whole thing is kind of ironic and amazing to me all at the same time, when thinking about Hamlet.  Since it's been going through a very needed and much deserved make over of its own.  It's not done yet, but it's getting there, slowly, but surely.  The fact that a designer out in LA stumbled across my blog and discovered just how perfectly my pretty little Main Street Hamlet photo represents small town America is nothing short of a miracle to me.   Other than post my blogs entries on Facebook and email them to a handful of locals, I don't really promote it.  So, the happenstance has made the experience especially remarkable to me.  Add the fact that someone with a keen eye at the Farmer-Brown Production Company saw, what I see when I look down Main Street Hamlet from the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum brings me much joy.  Yet, it doesn't surprise me.  I've always felt that sometimes those of us from the outside can see more clearly than those of us on the inside from the potential to the beauty... to the beauty in the imperfections.  The latter of which is a constant theme in this blog.  

To say this whole experience has put a big smile on face is an understatement.  I'm beaming not because my photo was discovered, but because Main Street Hamlet will be seen every single time that show airs!  And maybe, just maybe others will see what I see and appreciate, too!

And just fyi... I gave them the rights to use the photo for free.  So before the rumor mill even gets a chance to begin no one needs to be thinking I made anything off of this.  It's a sowing good seeds thing for me.  As I commented a few times recently to people who believe I should be doing something they think I should be doing," hey, thanks, but I free lance for free at the things I want and enjoy doing...".  Things I believe God puts in my heart.  Most of which involve heartstring ties for me, or I believe will make a difference.  And by doing so, cool stuff like this happens out of the blue!

As for Mr. Carson Kressley, some of you may recognize him.  He's an Emmy award winner, celebrity stylist, fashion designer, show host and author.  His dream is to make over the world!   And with Oprah behind him, his dreams very well may come true! He's man who puts feet to his dreams and he's proven it over and over again!

Here's the sneak preview of show that aired on June 25th!

Since this ties to Project Rewire and in a way my own make over process since picking up a camera to help rewire my brain a few years ago, I'll be cross posting this news there, too!

Lastly, about my other little secret, which I shared on June 1st in my entry entitled "Who Wants to Know the Secret?" since I'm not one to steal someone else's thunder, all I can say is stay tuned. The North Carolina Weekend spot will be airing soon.  In fact, much sooner, than later.  Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming press release to be written by Kelli Easterling in the Richmond County Daily Journal.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Who wants to know the secret?

         © All rights reserved by North Carolina State Archives

Who wants to know the secret I mentioned in last Wednesday's blog entry, Spring is almost over, yet summer is already here... and I've got a secret !!!  Hopefully, whomever reads the question will answer "I do!  I do!" 

The long and short of it is that UNC-TV (Public Broadcast TV) will be in Hamlet very very soon filming a piece for their acclaimed show, North Carolina Weekend.  A little slice of small town America, Hamlet style!  The end product will be a wonderful vehicle to bridge the gap between Hamlet's rich, historical, and all important railroad past with its now and the future its working towards for generations to come.  On film, North Carolina Weekend will be anointing Hamlet as a a town that makes a great visitors' destination!  Isn't that awesome?

And now, North Carolina Weekend will be producing a show featuring Hamlet's railroad history coming directly to your tube for your very own viewing pleasure sometime over the coming months. 

"This exciting program takes viewers on a journey beyond black and white pictures and boring text descriptions and into the colorful sites and sounds of the story - giving them a firsthand look at what North Carolina has to offer."

Isn't that grand? 

Hamlet locals and residents of Richmond County, and those of who may not live nearby, but have heart string ties to Hamlet, isn't that something to be proud of?

I hope your replies to my questions above were a resounding, "I should say so, Jeanne!"

As one who enjoys enthusiasm and anticipation of good things to come for Hamlet, my hopes are that this good news will spread like wildfire around town and Richmond County.  And that it will also echo with momentum outside the county borders over and over again.  

Are you now wondering to yourself how the heck did this happen to happen? 

Well, a cutting edge advertising/marketing services firm by the name of Walker-Marketing, Inc. was contracted by the Richmond County Tourism & Development Authority to promote Richmond County, NC as a tourist venue and/or destination for visitors.  How lucky for us that the Walker-Marketing, Inc. team member managing the contract and project is a fellow by the name of Jeffrey Cheatham

Jeff is a real go gitter and dove head on into this project earlier this year full of enthusiasm.  He has been doing a bang up job representing and promoting Richmond County to various media outlets.  Outlets that can truly make a difference in getting Richmond County on the map to bring those outside of the borders inside.  As well as for those who travel through, or around on their way to the beach, or to pick up I-95 to stop awhile to investigate firsthand what it has to offer. 

A key piece to the package, of course, is none other than the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum, once known as the Seaboard Airline Passenger Depot aka Seaboard Airline Railroad Station aka Seaboard Station, etc. etc. during the days of yesterday.  Trust me, the name is practically a religious debate for Hamlet locals.  But, the affection locals have for it is what matters most. 

Jeff's efforts on behalf of Hamlet have been especially appealing to me, since I'm all about promoting Hamlet and along with it, of course, as member of the Board of Directors, a volunteer, the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum is on the top of my list.  Even more so, as a granddaughter and niece of "Seaboard" men.  Just as I'm always hoping to get others on board, or better said, all aboard the Hamlet promotion train.

One example of Jeff's promotional efforts on Hamlet's behalf...

He wrote an article which recently appeared in The Quarterly Newsletter of The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society featuring the Tornado.  He covered its history and included the 1892 replica on display in the Tornado Building which is part of the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum complex, owned by the City of Hamlet.  For those of you who may not be familiar with the newsletter, it's an esteemed historical railroad focused publication. 

More cool articles will be hitting the printing presses of national magazines focusing on Hamlet's current and historical railroad significance in the near future.  So, once again I say stay tuned.

But, this is all about his latest efforts on Hamlet's behalf, the secret which I've already shared.

Are you wondering why I included the 1915 circa photo of the Seaboard Airline Station above, back in its heydays?

Well, when Jeff came across that very photo of Hamlet's one of kind Victorian jewel in her years of glory.  Needless to say, her unmatched beauty captivated him as it has countless others.  She literally has the power to stop an onlooker in the their tracks and she did it again with Jeff.  As she appears today, does she not have that same power?

Through Jeff's and Walker-Marketing, Inc.'s efforts, she'll be spot lighted in the North Carolina Weekend program featuring Hamlet's rich railroad history.  Along with her, her new role as the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum will be featured and partnered on screen with the National Railroad Museum & Hall of Fame.  As will several special interviewees.  For the HHD&M, as mentioned in my previous blog entry, both Riley Lee Watson and Sam Ballard, Jr.   For the NRM&HoF, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Williams.  For the City of Hamlet, Mayor, Jeff Smart.

As for my role in all of this.  I had the distinct pleasure of giving both Jeff Cheatham and Emily Tucker, President of the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce a tour of the HHD&M back on March 21st.  It was chance thing, on very very short notice.  I tend to believe it was a God thing.  At the time my heart leaped because I knew what Jeff's position was, and his reasons for visiting Richmond County.  In fact, I'd researched him.  I'd already prayed that my path would cross his so I could promote the HHD&M to him and share with him a bit about Hamlet's rich railroad history.  Since I know there's nothing better than a living breathing example of Hamlet's railroad roots, nor is there any "living" artifact more captivating than that of Mr. Riley Lee Watson, I asked him to join us for the impromptu tour.  Riley is not only a HHD&M volunteer, he is the embodiment of 250 years of a family devoted to the railroad.  He's one of a number of the living railroad treasures "of" Hamlet.

Jeff spent all of his time with us wide-eyed and captivated while listening intently and viewing every single thing we asked him to!  He and Emily both enjoyed their tour.  Riley and I did, too.  Together we worked our magic in hopes of charming Jeff and Emily into promoting the HHD&M and its significance to preserving Hamlet's history, while being an attractive tourism asset to both Hamlet's and Richmond County's economic future.   

The rest is history and a partial answer to many prayers on my end. 

On the ground my role has been to help coordinate a good part of the shoot in Hamlet and to educate Jeff on the lay of the land persé.  Or, perhaps better said, I've acted as a wrangler, In Jeff's words.  Whatever it is, I'm thrilled and overjoyed to be a little part of it.  As far working with Jeff, in all of of our communications back and forth it's been evident that he takes his work extremely seriously, and that he's been utterly taken by the Little Town That Can, called Hamlet and her story.  

The yesteryears I remember as a small child and teen fondly during the 50s and 60s are very much alive still within me and are very much a driving force behind this blog and everything I do with thoughts of Hamlet's future.  It was always my favorite destination!  So, I'm going close with a copy and paste of my dedication at the bottom of All Aboard Hamlet, just to remind my readers (who don't say much on this blog, but do in person and in notes behind the scenes, but admittedly I hope will one day!) why I created All Aboard Hamlet in the first place.

Dedicated to my mother's dream of Hamlet returning to its glory days. A dream she's held onto in honor of her parents; her siblings and her memories of it as a little four year girl dining with her daddy at the Seaboard Hotel in 1925. A dream and memory she's quite obviously passed on to me. This blog is also dedicated to we "Monroe" grandkids & greats and great greats. Also, to the visionaries who always have Hamlet's best interest at heart and aren't afraid to dream. Nor, put feet to those dreams to make them happen. In doing so, you inspire others, just as you have me.

Special thank you to Walker-Marketing, Inc. and Jeff Cheatham for helping to make my mom's dream come true and for allowing me to be a little part of it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spring is almost over, yet Summer is already here... and I've got a secret !!!

Well, I've almost missed Spring without blogging anything about it here.  Now, Summer is almost upon us, yet it already feels as if it has arrived.  Right now, it's 105° on my deck in the shade.  I'd planned to go down to take some photos of Main Street Park this afternoon, but have adjusted those plans to go possibly early evening when it's a little cooler.  Instead, I'll use this piece of carved out time to play a little catch up on All Aboard Hamlet.  If you notice the ice and snow pics on the right hand panel, I was going to switch them out today, but they're such contrast to the early Summer heat we're experiencing in Richmond County today, I'll believe I'll leave them in place for a few more days.  

First off, my apologies for taking a Spring hiatus... 

If it appeared as if I've abandoned this place, nothing could be further from the truth.  Since March 4th, much of my time has been devoted to an animal advocacy stance for justice that kept me busy networking on the internet for most of my waking hours until very recently.  Justice hasn't been achieved as yet, but awareness most definitely has; some of which through a new blog I created that's devoted to the cause for justice.  We're at a place where it's questionable as to whether it will ever be achieved.  But, we will never forget and will never give up in our efforts to secure it.  I don't want to go into the details about the case here, but only sharing so you'll know a bit of what I've been up to, and how passionate I am about things that mean something to me. Time was very much of the essence, so it trumped other things I much would have preferred to do.  Also, I have hard time switching gears from gut wrenching, to blogging "up stuff".  It just didn't feel right, either, to take time out to search for beauty in the imperfections in my less than amateur photography endeavors.  That being said, between my husband, Steve and I we did manage to capture some cool shots of some interesting "stuff" for train buffs that's timeless, which most definitely will eventually make its way here.

It's important to me when I have heartstring ties to anything to try to make a difference and give whatever it is as much of my focus as possible.  It's very similar to my feelings about Hamlet as a town and community and my very reasons for creating this blog.  My heartstring ties are what drive me to promote Hamlet and want the best for it.  To see it as it will be one day as a wonderful historical tourist venue for the full gamut of train or railroad enthusiasts.  From train lovers and watchers aka railfans, to those who have a passion for train and railroad history and model trains alike.  To those who are serious history buffs, or have an affection for museums, and old timey Victorian era architecture.  And for anyone in between, Hamlet will be a fun taste of small town America and southern hospitality for all.  Locals, transplants and tourists; kids and adults, included.

Obviously, Hamlet, The Little Town that Can and certain venues in Hamlet are rarely off my mind.  One of those venues, of course, is the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum.  Even though I've been tied up with a fight for justice elsewhere, I've also been busy working behind the scenes on a couple of HHD&M related projects.  And boy, do I have a secret!  One I will not divulge today, but expect to very soon!  The only hint I'll give you is that it involves two of my favorite Hamlet locals...

                                                               Mr. Riley Lee Watson

                                                                               Mr. Sam Ballard

Besides these two gentlemen full of railroad stories, all I will share further is that they will soon be in a spotlight, along two or three others and Hamlet's rich railroad history.  That's it and no more... except to say it gives me much joy to be a behind the scenes part of it... so stay tuned!

Friday, March 4, 2011

So much in life comes down to connections... says the dot connector...

          A train framed view of the North track from the diamond @ Hamlet Crossing

Note:  My goal for this blog is not to share often about my struggles with Epilepsy.  However, it's important that I infuse some of my story into it at times in a effort to bring much needed awareness to Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders.  And the need to find a cure.  This blog entry is a cross post of my Project Rewire entry. All of the photos I've shared were taken in Hamlet.     

From our brains, meaning our neuro wiring, as I tend to call it; throughout our bodies, to our business and personal lives, to our techy devices, so much in life comes down to connections.  There is such a gamut of definitions for the word.  But, as real people with real lives living in this new world of social networking totally driven by our connections, relationships, and hi tech stuff, they should be something most of us can find some common ground in our understanding of the multiple meanings and uses.  As a dot connector from way back when, I see connections in practically everything.

Visual sights such as power lines strung over a network of towers placed in sequence resembling gigantic angels, toy soldiers, and robots are mesmerizing to me.  Not only do the structures themselves amaze me, but the fact that their network of connectedness delivers electricity into our daily lives.  I'm not only drawn to, but enjoy photographing the towering figures as I shared back on April 8, 2009 in a blog entry, entitled Angel Power.  Just about every piece of that blog entry, I still believe, with the exception of the mention of a group in the first paragraph.   

So, a side track update is now required, in case you click in...

Last year I was of a peace at all costs mindset.  I'd had had it with strife and conflict brought to me by others, regardless of the avenue.  Although life is most certainly a blessing, and God is in control, we are human beings trying to live together in harmony on this planet.  It can be difficult to stay upbeat, positive and joyful, even when we have no problem whatsoever in counting our joys.  It's a sign of the times that our challenges these days aren't getting any easier.  There are things we can change and things that we literally have no control over.  In an effort to be more focused on the positives in my life, I made choices to eliminate some things, activities, and even a few people that crossed my path(s) last year.  So much in life also comes down to our choices.  Why choose to rub shoulders with people who bring you down?  Or, who are on individual power trips in a volunteer group, which undermine any chance of friendly cohesive teamwork? 

Well, due to that very chosen mindset, my hubby and I decided to separate ourselves from that group.  Without going any deeper into the specifics and details relating all of our reasons "why", bottom line there was too much conflict and too too many "us against them" type of attitudes.  Since we were new to the group and not a part of either side of those "us" or "them" folks.  Nor, could we tell them apart, it was better for us to part ways.  Needless to say, it took the joy out what could have become a super fun hobby for us.  And work we would have happily given to the group.  Instead, it became a shake the dust off our feet experience.  It's not a decision we look back upon and regret one iota.  Connections were made, perhaps too fast, quickly became no fun at all and, sadly, not worth our time.  Perhaps that sounds snobby, but not really.  Time is truly precious, and since my condition unfortunately does play a role in everything we do, we try to make what we do worthwhile for ourselves.  As well as benefit others when it comes to our outside "volunteer" commitments.  We also had no vested reason to hang in to see if things would ever change.  We gave it several months.  It worsened.  So, why bother?  It wasn't a lesson that needed to be learned.  But, more or less, a reminder to be cautious of connections that are over laden with valleys in the midst of an appealing interest peak and a desire to be a part of something worthwhile. 

Now, back on topic and on to another twist regarding connections.  Although I have it in my genes to love trains, and consider myself a railfan, another reason they captivate me is that they are very much an image in my mind of what connections, signals and networking is all about.  Metaphorically, I can go all over the place about connections, signals and networking, but for the purposes of this entry, I'm tying the train connection to me, of course.  My brain; my life living with "E".

I see the misfires in my left mid-temporal lobe as malfunctioning switches which takes my signals (neurotransmitters) off track from their original destination.  I see the long six week seizure event I experienced beginning the end of December, 2005 through the second week of February, 2006 as a major derailment.  One that created a domino effect giving ground to cluster seizures, that to this day, I've not recovered from.  That I also believe set the stage for the non-stop 24/7 neuro sensations and pressure I feel in my head and then, random neuropathic driven sensations throughout my body.  In essense, my signals are still screwed up.  Even though I'm coping better, and God and Project Rewire have helped my speech and writing to improve, my quality of life is still no where near, I'd like it to be.  Admittedly, I desperately want the uncomfortable sensations to subside.  And I so very much want some of my freedoms returned to me.  So, life will be easier on my husband, and easier for me.  I'd say normal, but I've learned normal is not a state of being.  Even though each of us has a different "normal" and many of us desire a better normal, we learn to cope and appreciate with what we have.

Normal is a fluid thing, and can change in the blink of an eye.  The you you know is here one moment, and poof, that you can become history.  To look at me, you probably can't see it, but much of the old me isn't there.  The "E" still has its grip on it and another me has emerged.  A me, I'm reluctantly trying to learn to live with.  I'm asked often "how do you feel?  You look healthy!" when we encounter folks that know a little about how things changed for my husband and I.  For which I often reply, "Thank you, I'm better, but the 24/7 neuro sensations are still very much there."  For which the next question usually is, "So, when are you going back to your doctor?"

I typically reply with some version of the following... "As an atypical case with hypersensitive and idiosyncratic reactions to medications I can't face becoming a guinea pig on a merry-go-around again right now.  All of the diagnostics I was put through didn't get me anywhere.  Inpatient or outpatient.  I failed five medications, which means they either made things worse, or my body couldn't handle the side effects.  I gave the medical profession three years of my life to get me somewhere, and got nowhere.  I invested two years at Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, which made too many mistakes for me to continue with them.  If the Lord puts the right Epileptologist across my path.  One willing to look at me with fresh eyes and have experience with those whose bodies react uniquely to medications.  I'll try again." 

That's a mouthful isn't it?  You may wonder why I share all of that... Well, to be brutally honest, I'm not looking for empathy, pity, nor attention.  In fact, I detest talking about, and even blogging about it.  But, they are both ways to help cause awareness by adding my face to those living in the United States (and elsewhere) with Epilepsy and Seizure disorders.  The only way I know to do it is to share information about myself and how Epilepsy has impacted my life when someone asks how I am and is sincere about it.  Otherwise, the asker is likely to get the vanilla "I'm fine", robotic response we all give.

So, how do I cope with my day-to-day existence?  Because most days it doesn't feel like really living.  Through my connections.  The connections I have with my husband, my family, my rescue animal kids, my personal interests and friendships.  Each moment my mind is focused elsewhere involving one or a combination of those connections, is a moment of welcomed distraction.  Whether that means sitting at the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum watching trains.  Or, taking a walk down Main Street in Hamlet.  Or, running errands with my husband around Rockingham, or in Raleigh, or Charlotte, for the day.  Or, looking through a camera view finder for a unique view of something that speaks differently to me, than it may to you.  Or, doing some hands on with my volunteer interests.  Or, being the center of attention for some snuggly rescue Springers.  Those are some of the moments I live for these days. 

And those are the moments that get me through to the next...

One of which has been on my mind quite a bit the last few days.  As it has been the past month or so, since there's been a very recent major cleanup by CSX around the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum and Hamlet Crossing.

Last fall, my husband and I were watching trains there, which is known for the diamond where the North & South tracks intersect with the East & West tracks in Hamlet, NC.  The Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum also faces this area.  It had become such an eyesore, which was making me sad.  I'd even hit a place where I was reluctant to take photos once everything began turning brown.  No matter how much I tried, I couldn't find the beauty in the imperfections when I looked across the area.  Aside from the trains, of course.  

Finding beauty in the imperfections is something I'm always trying to find an example of whenever I take photos around Hamlet.  Well, this particular day, I decided to stand at the diamond and shoot photos of the area while a train was heading west.  Using the railcars as a frame, I snapped photos of the tracks heading north into the CSX yard and the beautiful sky in between the railcars.  Here are just a few of those shots.   

The images above reflect positive connections, in my humble opinion.  The ones we need to keep us on track, together and strong.  A steady track to follow, like iron rails. Ties that bind us together, like railcars attached to each other.  All that the Lord gives us, such as the blue sky mingled with clouds framed uniquely by our lives and the way we view things.  Signals, to guide us.  And for support, sturdy ground to build our lives upon.

Lastly, we all need someone bigger than us to guide us.  As a christian, that's the Lord and is reflected upon the cross.  The old poles in the photo below, always remind me of the cross Jesus gave his life for us on.  Then, there are times life throws us a curve ball and we find ourselves needing someone to help pull us along the tracks of life when we can no longer take to or go travel by ourselves.  For me, that's my husband.  He's the second engine.  It's a tough job at times because he has a life, too.  Fortunately, his driving force, is the Lord, too.  The lead engine...

As I shared in the note at the beginning of this entry, normally, I don't cross post between Project Rewire and All Aboard Hamlet, but for the next few posts, I will be.  Saturday, March 26th is Purple Day to support Epilepsy worldwide.  I believe it's important that we start in our own backyards, which is my reason for cross sharing this entry and the upcoming entries.  In essence, my blogs are my backyard.  Both, in their own ways, reflect my story.  And of course, the obvious connection is that I author both blogs.

If you, or a loved one or friend has Epilepsy  please consider wearing purple on March 26th to help bring much needed  awareness to the disease and the need to find a cure.  Both, Roxy, my rescue ESRA Sprocker (English Springer Spaniel + Cocker Spaniel) who has  Epilepsy and and I will be wearing purple on the 26th.  My people connections, please think about joining us and if you are owned by a dog, why not add a purple ribbon to his or her collar for the day for Roxy and her canine friends with Epilepsy.  Thanks!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Little Town that Can...

There are banners on the lamp posts up and down Main Street among other streets in Hamlet that state quite simply, "The Little Town That Can".  These banners follow the Season's Greetings banners that ended 2010, and signal that 2011 is here and ready to be conquered, not endured.  I'd so like to add an explanation point at the end of that line because I LOVE a can do attitude from people, communities, small towns and even from my little special needs rescue dogs and kitties.  I also believe it's very fitting that these banners are displayed on lamp posts designed to light our paths during the evening and our darkest hours.  It's difficult to walk a path of any type without light, or a can do confident sure footed attitude. The two totally go hand 'n hand in my humble opinion.

There are times, though, when one's attitude or the ability to walk that path to a destination depends on other peoples' assistance, focus and attitude and/or cooperation and enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is a fluid thing, and it can wane at times by the shear lack of another's cooperation and enthusiasm.  Waning enthusiasm is an un-fun condition, quite honestly, I've been in lately, and I don't care for it one little bit.

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I'm a very enthusiastic person pretty much by nature.  Probably even more so since Epilepsy became a part of my life, although, I do have to temper my enthusiasm with wisdom, unfortunately, when the occasion calls for it.  Which translates to the fact that there is a very realistic side to me, too!

I'm also the type of person who can easily see the big picture and the little details that either make or break the picture.  Or, can derail a project or hamper a goal.  I have no problem keeping the prize in mind, nor the steps to make it happen, but when those steps are stumbled by others, it's not fun.  If it's something truly worthwhile, keeping the vision isn't hard, but the getting there sometimes create challenges someone bigger than me must move.  As much as it distresses me to admit that, it's true.  In fact, I've been chastised for having too much enthusiasm at times and not buying into a negative frame of mind.  And criticized for allowing a project to languish, much to my dismay.  But, you know what, I'm not taking blame where it's not due, and I'm not planning to change my positive attitude.  The world doesn't revolve around me, thankfully.  However, I have discovered that in dealing with certain things regarding Hamlet, the luster of my enthusiasm can in fact lose some of it's sheen.  Again, it just reinforces my thoughts about right timing.  Everything in life comes down to the right timing.  God is either in it, or He's not.  I want the version where He is, and there are times that means a dose of reality has to be digested that can stifle the shear fun out of a project, or goal... for awhile.

So, those are a few reasons it just overjoyed me to see "The Little Town That Can" banners flapping in the wind, behind trees and power lines.  And out in the open on their own with their all important message.  A powerful, but simple message highlighted and beaming out as sun rays broke through to shine upon them amidst a darkening sky overhead filling up with storm clouds. It was such an apropos reminder for me, personally.  A reminder I needed -- one that boosted my spirits.

In Hamlet, to me the banners signify a reflection of the visionaries who are working to make positive things happen on behalf of Hamlet.  As well as to move Hamlet forward in putting it on the map as a railfan/train enthusiast/history loving tourist venue, in order to improve the economy for the residents who make Hamlet their home.  To make it a warm welcoming place for all -- residents, and visitors alike.  

There are all kinds of signs per sé along Main Street that progress is happening. Merchants have jumped on the band wagon in making their locales more appealing and in line with the way Hamlet appeared in its heyday.  The city is getting into the act by painting new handicap parking spaces and preparing for Spring's arrival.  In a future entry, I'll be sharing some photos of various store fronts and other signage (and signs) along Main Street that reflect some recent hands on loving care and attention.  But right now, I'm going to keep this post on topic and simple by sharing a few photos I snapped recently of the banners.

During the daylight hours the message "The Little Town That Can" beams out admist a blend of sunshine, storm clouds and blue skies.

Everything depends on perspective.  At least I think so.  In this shot the physical perspective (or angle) tricks ones eye into thinking that the lamp post and message "The Little Town That Can" is above Main Street's skyline, with the Lackey Building being the marker point.  In actuality, of course it isn't, and anyone viewing this photo will know that, but I'm surely hoping the prevailing attitude is one that reflects the message the banners displays.  The example above is a little hard to read, so it's a case where one must look a little deeper and a little closer.  Not at the banner, but in one's mind to hold on to the positive message that's been reflected above in other photos (or, in this entry, or while visiting Main Street).

I'll be closing with this one because this one means a great deal to me.  Why?  Because it's in front of the Stinson Building aka "the white" building which sits directly west of the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum.  Soon it will become the home of Hamlet's new Visitor's Center and will be another annex to "our" museum.  I say "our" because I'm on the board of the directors for the museum and am also a volunteer as many of you know. It's one of my forever heart string ties to Hamlet, which ties back to the reason for this blog.  The Stinson Building rehabilitation is yet another project that the esteemed historical preservation architect, David E. Gall, AIA will be guiding.  For Hamlet and everyone else, that's a GOOD GOOD thing!!

That's it for now...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Black and white and shades of gray...revisited

Note to new visitors:  If this is your very first time reading All Aboard Hamlet, you may want to scroll down one entry, before reading this one, so it will make more sense to you.  Please also consider taking a few moments when convenient to scroll through the whole blog to the very beginning.  It's a relatively new blogging endeavor for me, and there aren't many posts, so it won't be overly time consuming for you to familiarize yourself.  Doing so will help give you a better feel for All Aboard Hamlet and me, too.  To scroll down, simply click here.  It take you back to this entry, but you'll be free to scroll to any entry between here and the beginning.  Thanks! 

Picking up from the "to be continued" notation at the end of my last blog entry...

As one of my friends and fellow blogger Chip "Rocket Man" Allen, commented on my previous entry, "winter or when the skies are overcast, just beg for monochrome".  Well, I wholeheartedly agree.  However, I've shared the shots in previous entry, and the one below, in black and white and shades of gray for a couple of different reasons.

The first is because in thinking about people, human nature, community and our abilities to love, despise or live in a state of ambivalence, as with so many things in life, it comes down to the choices we make.  We can look at and focus on what's black and white.  Meaning what happens to be right in front of our faces.  What we look at, but not necessary see.  The obvious, and/or what we think (or assume) we know about someone.  And, sadly, quite often, that's it.  We go no further. 

In communities, those of shades gray can bring people together with the same or similar passions and goals, to make things happen.  Even in the midst of differing opinions with shared passions and goals people can come to a place of working together in harmony, rather than against each other.  In fact, those differing opinions can actually translate to a better version of the bigger picture.  Goals and projects can be completed so much more efficiently and expediently when such harmony exists.  However, when it doesn't, attitudes and negativity rules.  Passions can become but a flicker.  Or, at worst, dashed altogether.  While common goals go unmet and projects unfinished.  Or, finished "in spite of", so some of the joy of achievement is lost.

Am I pointing fingers at Hamlet?  No, not really.  Unfortunately, this happens everyday, everywhere, in our homes, in our churches, in our businesses, all across the USA.  But, I do believe smaller localities feel it because so many people know each other.  Or, know of each other.  Or, think they know each other.  And so much is at stake.  I bring it up here because the name for this blog is All Aboard Hamlet for a reason. 

I've mused about the blacks and whites and shades of gray for days and days now.  So much so, I could probably write about it for hours and hours.  I shall spare you, though!

What it boils down to is that it's the black and white "things" of this world that can simply either bring us together, or separate us.  Yet, beneath the surface view, within the various shades of gray is where "the stuff" that can form true bonds can be discovered and forged.  Rather than resentments and animosities fostered.  It's the area where our differences can be overtaken by positives and mutual understandings.  Even when the understanding happens to be to agree to disagree.  The shades of gray are home to the common ground(s) where life long relationships can be created, or a single moment of perfect understanding between people can be found.  And yes, within the shades of gray are the places where adversity can melt away into diversity.  It's where the stark contrasts aren't seen as negatives, but compliment each other as positives.  It all depends on the way we choose to see things. 

How does this translate to photography?  Or, vice versa?  Or, maybe better said, it's how did Jeanne get into this groove?  Well, I've always been a people person and an observer of people as far back as I can remember.  Then, even more so after spending eleven years in my former career interviewing countless people from all walks of life for my old employer.  But, in *this* case, I believe God reminded me of things I already knew using a few of my photos.  It's just amazing how that happens.  

For some it may be an easy jump to get, for others, a leap...

In looking at black and white photography, immediately you're aware that there is more to the picture.  Of course, your mind registers the most obvious... it's missing color, but is it really missing anything else?  Or, does it actually give you more of the picture?  Do the blacks and whites and shades of gray pull you into the photograph deeper than a color version would?  Does it capture your imagination?  Without the grays sewing the photograph together, could you even see the black and white portions clearly?

Or, does a color photograph give you a clearer picture? 

With me a black and white scenic photo can pull me in more than color version does because it actually captures more of my interest.  The same holds truth with most black and photos and me regardless of the subject matter.  My eyes stop at the surface with color photos, so I've learned to take time to discover and see each detail, way beyond just looking at the photo.  During the process in my mind, I'm describing each detail to myself.  (This is just one of the little things I do to help rewire my brain from the effects of misfires and seizures.)  With black and white, I automatically see the depth and beyond.  That's just me, though.  Also, the photos I chose to share are a variety of "vanilla" shots.  Nothing super striking, however, I did find the black and white versions of the ancient trees were a bit Sleepy Hollow-ish and a little scary.

No, truly this isn't a lesson on interpreting black and white vs. color photography.  But, my choice to share a few of my shots of the recent ice and snow in  Main Street Park in black and white and shades of gray, surely got my mind to thinking.  And I believe God seized opportunity to open my eyes a little wider.  What about yours?

Now, for the second reason I chose to share my shots in black and white and shades of gray.  Trust, me this is super short!  I was playing with my camera settings in an attempt to deal with the reflections and brightness of the sunlight that morning against the ice and snow in some of the photos I snapped.  Unfortunately, I wasn't thrilled with the results at all. 
Honestly, I felt like kicking myself, because who knows when Main Street Park will be so beautifully draped in ice and snow again.  However, once I added a simple black and white effect, I found those particular photos more to my liking.  Normally, I'm not really into effects much at all, but this time, the effects caused me to reflect deeper and much further than a simple photograph would normally take me.  In the color counterparts, I couldn't get past what I was looking at to see what God had for me in the black and whites with shades of gray.  What an effect!

Me thinks Mr. Thoreau certainly knew what he was talking about...  

"The question is not what you look at, but what you see."  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Black and white and shades of gray...

Well, it's been about seven weeks since my last blog entry here on All Aboard Hamlet. True, that's a long time to go without an entry, however, for the purposes of this blog, I'm striving not to duplicate content that one can read in the Daily Journal.  Reporter, Hollie Nivens has been doing a nice job keeping up with all of the happenings and news in Hamlet.  Also, there are several avenues available for locals and once locals, and interested parties to read about main stream happenings in Hamlet, as well as view photos, too, such as OURHAMLET.org and a new Facebook Page I created called I Grew Up In Richmond County.  My hope is for it to become a gathering spot/melting pot sharing network for those who grew up in, OR have ties to Richmond County, NC.    

In a way these seven weeks have blown by in a flash. From the Christmas Tree Lighting in Main Street Park, to Hamlet's Christmas parade, to Hamlet's Old Fashioned Christmas festivities up and down Hamlet Avenue and Main Street on the evenings of December 10th & 11th, to the actual Christmas and New Year's holidays, it's been a busy time for the community of Hamlet.  It's been a busy time for me, and I suspect the same is true of you!  Add the gorgeous day late white Christmas, followed by Hamlet born author, Jody Meacham's Through the Heart of the South book signing event at the Hamlet Historic Depot & Museum the evening of December 27th, the days have just clicked on by!  And, between then and now, a great deal has been happening in my family.  The most difficult has been the recent loss of my last living uncle back home in Virginia, which has hit all of my family with heart string ties to Hamlet very hard.  I have such fond memories of him.  In fact, several trips I made to Hamlet as a little kid was with he, my aunt and my cousin.  My next post on Project Rewire will be about him, so as I've been writing this in my mind, I'm also thinking a about him, too.  He enjoyed hearing and reading what was happening in Hamlet.  He loved trains and railroad stories like all of us do in my family.  He also read my entries here, so, admittedly, it hurts a little for me to be here.  I liken it to walking into a room and someone's special chair now sits empty. 

Anyway... add another snowy weather event partnered up with ice this past week, time, thankfully, seemed to stop for a couple of days.  Personally, it was a very welcome inclement weather situation as it gave me time to play hooky from life during special walks through the icy forest nearby my home with my husband on Monday and Tuesday.  We couldn't wait to get outside to experience the beautiful winter wonderland first hand.  It also gave me some blank spots in my days to catch up on other stuff, too.  So, I'm finally at the place where I can focus on my blogs again. 

Here, on All Aboard Hamlet, I have several upcoming posts planned already.  Lately, I've been devoting a lot of thought to "community" in respects to shared common ground and possible bonds that could be fostered as a result of that shared ground.  I've been appreciating the changes I see happening on Main Street Hamlet, and even new Hamlet focused Pages on Facebook.  And it may sound silly, but I've pondering black and white and shades of gray.  How so?  Well, in photography and how I see the things that make you and I, you and I.  How the shades of gray are the areas where our common bonds can be found. I'll elaborate in my next post...

But, for right now, I want you to take a walk with me through Main Street Park in black and white and shades of gray.  Once the roads in our neighborhood became passable last week, my husband and I headed to the Depot.  I already knew I'd missed taking the photos I would have so loved to take of the Depot itself, but I had an inkling Main Street Park would make up for it.  It truly did.  It was like being the midst of an ice castle with the sky for a ceiling and fencing, instead of walls.

(To me, black and white photography isn't necessarily without true color.  It's all about one's imagination and in viewing color photos vs. black and white, with color the eye sees the image first, where in black and white, your heart does.  The emotion that can be provoked, or illustrated in black and white and the all important shades of gray can pale a color version of the same shot if you see them side by side.  Black and white shots are poetic stills, where colored shots vividly portray their subjects. It may just be me, but I believe black and white shots are more timeless.  They certainly capture a part of me, color doesn't. What about you?  As you view the shots below, think about it...) 

We had the most lovely walk through Main Street Park amidst the snow and ice. It was so icy, my husband had to keep a tight grip on me to keep me from falling.  I almost wiped out several times, but fortunately, either my husband, or I caught myself.  We saw one man fall three times.  Poor guy.  He was there with the love of his life, and we were thrilled he didn't take her down, too.  To say it was beautiful, is an understatement.  It was just breathtaking the way the ice covered and molded to everything.  It shimmered and glistened in the sunlight so perfectly, I could have cared less if the trees ever leafed out again.  The sky was a gorgeous blue, but the reflection off the snow mingled with the brilliant morning sunlight made it so incredibly bright, there were times I couldn't see through my camera's view finder.  There were times, I couldn't see at all.  Yep, I was blinded by the light!  We could hear the sounds of the ice cracking as we walked, well, stomped to maintain our balance. We could hear the birds, and a brisk whooshing of the wind through the trees and stark areas. It was refreshing, exhilarating, and the icy air felt so clean.  Like a blast of healthy!

The ancient trees were magnificent. I found myself wondering how many ice and snow storms they'd weathered and how many people they've enjoyed seeing stroll by them. And how many trains either carrying passengers on a journey, or goods to keep our nation's stock piles of whatever filled go by them.  And how much of Hamlet's history they've witnessed, but are keeping to themselves like secrets. What about the younger specimen trees planted around the park?  What are they learning about people as they listen in and observe them as they stand silently?

Although I always find Main Street Park wonderful, it's the views from within it in all directions that always seem to be the most intriguing and appealing to me.

To be continued...