B I G B O Y

Union Pacific “Big Boy” steam locomotive

Our Native American ancestors nicknamed the steam locomotive, The Iron Horse, after this new mode of transportation began rolling across freshly laid tracks in the vast western United States. The Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869. The locomotives then were much smaller than this giant, but performed well enough to carry millions of passengers and freight across plains, mountains and deserts over the course of 1900 miles (3000 kilometers) of steel rails.

I wish I could state that the advent of transcontinental rail travel was a success for everyone, but that is not the case. Certainly, the myriads of settlers heading to the Promised Lands of the West Coast were overjoyed to abandon the wagon trains which preceded them. However, our Native American brethren (they were called Indians) suffered much as the railroad basically cut their living and hunting domain in half, and quickly brought about the wholesale slaughter of buffalo and added to the demise of their nations.

As technology advanced, locomotives became more powerful as the terrain and loads dictated. The Union Pacific commissioned a score of these behemoths, the largest steamers built, between 1941 and 1944. They traversed the steep grades of the Rocky Mountains until 1962. Diesel Electric locomotives eventually replaced these marvels of steel and steam.

Two key ingredients are necessary to make steam: water and heat. Steam locomotives have large boilers which accept water from their holding tanks. Heat is created by burning wood, coal or oil. Just as todays vehicles need refueling / recharging so did the steamers require frequent stops for taking on water and fuel.

The Union Pacific recently finished an extensive refurbishing of this locomotive, and it is currently operating along their rail lines from Cheyenne, Wyoming to New Orleans, Louisiana; making a ten-state, round-trip tour. Kansas City is fortunate to be one of the longer stops. The Golden Age of Rail may be over, but nostalgia isn’t as can be attested to by the throngs of folks who flock to see this steam engine and its train.

As with all things related to man, technology and the ability to produce it creates blessings and curses. How we view innovation and use technology often determines the end result…I try to remain positive in this accelerated world we live in.

P.S. I DO like my air conditioning, refrigerator, house, car, fresh food, etc. Oh, and the freedom to enjoy them. Grateful, hopeful, and cautious.

Cohesion

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Molecular surface tension creates the astounding effect of water literally holding its shape on a myriad of surfaces. Due to this dynamic, water globs can even be rolled around on certain materials, making for an enjoyable exercise and sight.

I recently stained and sealed my deck so the coated wood boards and caps had just the right characteristics to create a vibrant scene of sorts. What strikes me is the seemingly simplicity of the water droplets standing on wood, all-the-while the science behind this occurrence is rather complicated.

When I contemplate that all the water which exists in our world will never increase nor decrease I stand amazed at its resiliency to return to the form we know most: liquid. Water can take on the form of ice upon freezing or steam after boiling. It can be found flowing rapidly down a mountain stream or slowly moving along the path of an old river. It can become a torrent of waves during a severe storm and jetted through a fire hose or sprinkler head. Water can be found on a placid lake or in a family pool. It can even cut steel.

Some parts of the world receive less than a cup of water a year while other areas receive so much rain that it can’t be accurately measured. Finally, consider the amount of water which makes up a large part of our bodies, and the bodies of most of God’s creatures. Humans can’t last even two weeks without in-taking water. A rather valuable resource, don’t you think? We sure could use more cohesion among the human population !

 

 

Sticking Your Neck Out !

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What a neck ! Has there been a time (s) when you have stuck out your neck (risk) for others or a cause? I certainly hope so.  For this Heron, sticking out the neck is common behavior, as you will witness by the next image!

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Perched high upon a tree this bird is all about searching for something. I assume that “something” may be a meal.

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As can be attested to by these photographs, something caused this lovely bird to stretch out the valuable neck line to its fullest extent. Can you relate?

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Then something happened that I wasn’t quite ready (with my camera) to expect…a release from the tree branch to the air.

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Freedom to pursue what he or she wanted to…how exhilarating to witness !

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Please forgive the lack of clarity, but as I stated, I wasn’t ready for this bird to bolt from the tree. However, I wanted to show the breath of its wing span and ability to lift that large structure from the perch.

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Birdie, as I shall call it since I don’t know male from female of this species, landed on a walkway bridge at a local park with a small lake. Birdie is about 3 ft. tall.

IMG_1189 (2) Birdie must have either become bored rather quickly or saw something it liked for it  took flight rather quickly…

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Birdie is seen “all out” as it crosses the lake for some unknown reason to me. Such a slim species of bird. Nevertheless, they are great hunters of fish and frogs and are usually found near water searching for the next meal or enjoying the cool of the water.

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One doesn’t need to ponder very long where the inspiration for flight came from. Birdie is gliding like a kite.

Such a privilege to witness this magnificent creature rest and then take flight. I hope you get a sense of what I witnessed a few evenings ago. Awesome !

 

 

Water Bowl

 

This guy performs the kind act of pouring water from a bowl which gives life to this bird and other wildlife. He stops watering in the winter due to freezing, but he’s back at it when warmer weather returns.

Brawn, bowl and bird would have also been an appropriate title for this sculpture, except the word “water” would not have been included. Water is such a critical element to all that has life so I chose to include it.

Granite muscles and chiseled features delicately embrace the watering bowl that the creator had in mind when he or she sculpted this piece of art. I like the fact that it is not only an art piece placed in a flower garden, but has purpose beyond visual enjoyment. Water flowing from within this rock brings relief to soft creatures on the outside. There is no fear-only satisfaction.

I can easily see the correlation between God and this granite man, and people as the bird. We are welcomed into the garden. We are offered the satisfaction that our greatest needs will be met. And, we are told not to be fearful. It appears the bird understands this dynamic very well. I hope we all do, too.

 

Pondering !

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I came across this sight as I was driving into town. I have posted a couple of times a threesome of these fine looking horses grazing in their field or laying down on the prairie grass. However, I have not seen them in the pond before so it was an exciting moment for me.

For all of you horse owners, this may be a common sight, but not for me. I don’t know where the fourth horse came from (as there has always been three together), but perhaps he is a lookout for those in the water. He seems to be on patrol.

Just thought I would share a moment in time when I witnessed something new to me, and probably to many of you, as well. I wish the image was of better quality, but the pond is about 400 meters from my vantage point and I zoomed to the max.

Aqua en Movimiento

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With a fury the waves crash into the submerged sand bars just out of the dry shore’s reach.

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The sky reflects upon the ocean its personality in cobalt, turquois, and misty white colors.

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Local tradesmen stroll the beaches as if in stride with the water’s waves. And, they are.

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As the tide completes its rhythmic motion, calmness returns for a moment. The cycle continues relentlessly, and sublimely.

 

River Rocks

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There is something soothing about a clear mountain stream flowing steadily to its destination. Not a roaring river, or rapids, nor a trickle, but a swift movement of water which glides gently over the rock base with hardly a ripple…like liquid glass.

I love to stare at these photographs for the sheer simplicity and sublime natural beauty. The rock base with its myriad of colors and shapes, and the movement of water creating subtle illusionary effects is almost enchanting. Of course, I am biased because I vividly recall taking the photographs of the Merced River as it carves it way through the Yosemite Valley. Not far from this peaceful scene are several powerful waterfalls which reveal the force of water which cuts away rock and earth like a hammer and chisel.

 

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Water is fascinating. When it flows it can be refreshingly relaxing or extremely destructive. It can be harnessed to create electricity, and manipulated to rise and fall to accommodate changes in elevations as with canal locks. Moving water can be lovely to behold as the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas attests to with it shooting water shows, and pleasant to be near when relaxing by a sculptured fountain. And moving water can be just plain fun as can be seen on the faces of children running through a sprinkler, descending down a water slide or bobbing up and down on breaking ocean waves near a beach.

 

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What would we do without water?  Hint; absolutely nothing!

 

 

The Melt

2-21-15 011 I tried so hard, my dear, to show that you’re my every dream                Yet you’re afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme                      A memory from your lonesome past keeps us so far apart                   Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

There was a time when I believed that you belonged to me                 But now I know your heart is shackled to a memory                              The more I learn to care for you, the more we drift apart                       Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

Hank Williams, the legendary country singer, wrote and recorded this song, Cold Cold Heart, in 1951 (he was 27 and died two years later).  Rather than recite all four stanzas, I copied the first and the last. The two middle stanzas simply reveal more about the confusion and heartache expressed in these lyrics. As I gazed at the melting ice from our trees this past Saturday morning, I grabbed my camera and went outside to take several shots. For some reason this song-which I haven’t heard in years-came to mind. I suppose it may have been the cold temperatures finally warming and the melting ice which caused this song to arise to my consciousness. After some self-evaluation, I asked myself how do the lyrics of a sad ballad correlate to a beautiful act of nature…for it was a grand sight to witness the frozen tree branches shed their layer of ice and drip with the new life of cool water. The melting ice glittered like diamonds under spotlights!2-21-15 005Slowly, almost imperceptibly, I began to understand the link. There is beauty all around us, but at the same time there can be ugliness, pain and sorrow. Paradoxical, isn’t it? Joy and pain, beauty and the beast, clarity and confusion-all can co-exist. Where love is found, hate is not far behind. Where peace abounds, conflict can be just around the corner. And where some relationships nurture and grow, others can wilt and die on the vine. Such is the result of a fallen world. But, alas, our lives don’t have to exist in a state of bitterness, heartache, failure or confusion. True, these are our realities at times, but they don’t have to define us. I am not advocating that we ignore the negatives for that is wishful thinking. As difficult as it can be at times we must face the trials head on, hang on to an anchor of hope (for me this anchor is Christ) and endure. Strive to find beauty in this world, even when you feel abandoned, are depressed or lonely, are being seriously misunderstood or may be grieving. Light will shine again; hold on and wait for the melt.2-21-15 013