Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. My Header this month shows a gorgeous IRIS in our yard. Her name is Goodnight Kiss.

Monday, April 30, 2012

More from the Smokies, an Update, and some Sad News

If you missed Friday's blog post,  click HERE  first to see Part I of our trip to the Smokies on April 23.   Today I'll share with you more pictures.  Above is a picture of us at our mountain cabin (I wish).... Click on all pictures to see them larger.




Here's another picture of the gorgeous Smoky Mountains.   I cannot tell you how fabulous it is to be here and see these mountains!!!  It is truly AWESOME...




As I mentioned in the previous blog post,   we enjoy seeing all of the fences in the Smokies...   It was quite cold on the day we were there,  so I had to take a few minutes to rest on that fallen tree--and warm my hands in my coat pockets... BEHIND me,  don't you love that rock fence/wall?????




Here's another rock fence/wall.  This picture shows the fence/wall from fairly close-up.    Isn't this just great?  (Sorry---don't mean to sound SO excited although I AM.... ha)




This is a typical picture of George ---trying to get the best photos he can!!!  Luckily,  he didn't get his feet wet!!!!




I love this picture...  Can you figure out what it is????  It's moss growing up the trees..  Neat, huh?




Here is one more picture showing SNOW on the tops of the mountains that day, in the distance... As I mentioned in the last blog post,  it was 37 degrees when we first got to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.   But,  by the time we got here (Foothills Parkway) in the afternoon,  the sun had come out --and it was a 'little' warmer (in the 50's)...




Finally,  just when you thought you had seen ALL of 'our' pictures,  I'll show you one more.... We walked and walked up and down this creek ---and just had the best time...   It's no wonder we took so many pictures together!!!!!   We were both smiling from beginning to end of this fabulous place!!!!  It was truly a marvelous day.

I promise that I will share a bunch of George's photos from this day soon .  That new filter is fabulous ---and his pictures came out GREAT....  (George posted 3 on one of his blogs today---so click HERE to see some.  Be sure to enlarge them)

Have a tremendous Monday!!!!  I cannot believe that tomorrow is MAY 1st.... What happened to April??????

UPDATE:  Pertaining to my question about Legacy Accounts,  apparently Blogger did send out that email to any of us who might have had a  old account.  I do NOT remember having an account before 2007  (did not have a blog on Blogger then),  so I will not fill out the information.  IF there was an old account,  it will just 'die'..... Thanks for all of your help in getting this straightened out.

SAD NEWS:  This is something that made me cry ALOT yesterday... Poor George didn't know what to do for me.   Mama Bluebird and all of the babies are GONE... There is nothing in the nest --not even any feathers or signs of distress.  What alerted me was the action of Daddy Bluebird yesterday morning.  He was very upset about something --and kept on squawking and flying around like something was wrong.  He'd go to the nestbox and look inside --but wouldn't go inside.  I told George at the time that something must be wrong since we did not see Mama Bluebird all morning.  Finally,  late this afternoon we checked the nest... NOTHING there.    I'm not sure what happened.  But whatever it was,  Daddy Bluebird must not have known about it..  He stayed around the area flying around VERY agitated ALL DAY LONG...  I could tell that he was grieving... (And some people say that birds don't have feelings... HA---they do have feelings,  and my heart is broken for him.)

The nestbox is not big enough for large birds or critters to get inside.  We NEVER see snakes --although I'll bet there are snakes around here.  However,  we have a baffle on that nestbox pole --and I thought that would deter snakes....  Wouldn't you think there'd be some signs of distress in the nestbox?

George thinks that there was some distress --and that Mama and the babies (not old enough to fledge) did FLEDGE ---and something may have gotten them outside of the nextbox...   Anyone have any other ideas????

 I will always have my memories of both Mama and Daddy Blue --going in and out of the nestbox feeding those babies... They have been doing that all week ---until yesterday.  I had been so excited for them --and they were being such wonderful parents.

This is the 2nd year in a row we have had a problem with our nesting Bluebirds.  I am beginning to wonder if the new nestbox we bought two years ago is HAUNTED....  I am devastated --as you can imagine (those of you who love birds like I do).   I just want to take Daddy Blue in my arms and hug him...  Poor thing!

Hugs,
Betsy


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flowers for Leontien

To Sweet Leontien:   I chose my favorite flower,  our ROSES from our yard, to share with you today...   My love and prayers are with you as you travel this journey.  I hope that, by seeing all of the flowers from your friends today,  you will know how much each and every one of us love you and are thinking about you and praying for you every moment of every day.

Much Love to you and your family ---and loads of HUGS just for YOU,
Betsy






















Link to Flowers for Leontien to join in.

Friday, April 27, 2012

These Glorious Smoky Mountains

On Monday,  April 23,  George and I celebrated our 130th MONTH-aversary by taking a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.  This time,  we started by traveling around the ROARING FORK MOTOR NATURE TRAIL  (which goes WAY back in the mountains to about 3500 feet in elevation, above the town of Gatlinburg).   This road was closed during the winter --but is open now... This is a popular drive for tourists who visit the Smokies, but we 'locals' love it too.  One can enjoy the mountains without even getting out of their car if they choose.  We, on the other hand,  stop at the pull-offs all along the way ---enjoying ourselves despite the unusually COLD weather on this day.

This 6 mile long one-way road offers views of gorgeous mountain streams,  forest growth,  some well-preserved log cabins,  and grist mills.    George and I have been on this road several times (mostly when we were hiking to Rainbow Falls or Grotto Falls or Baskins Creek Falls)....  This time,  we stopped and enjoyed some of the old log cabins --and we loved seeing all of the cascades in the area creek...  There is just something magical about being in the Smokies...

Hope you enjoy today's set of photos.  The one above was taken at one of the overlooks off of the Roaring Fork Road...   To me,  it's just a glorious photo of the Great Smoky Mountains.   AND you won't believe it --but when I took this picture,  the temperature was 37 degrees and it was 'spitting' snow....  GADS!!!    (There was snow at elevations above 5000 feet.)  Be sure and click on all of the photos to enlarge them.




We loved walking around some of the old home places while we were there..  This fence really attracted us---and we both took pictures of the fence (as we did other fences in the Smokies that day).  You can also see the barn in the background..




We also did what we do best:  just had fun!!!!!  Can George fit in this 'doghouse'????? ha ha ha..... He's NEVER in MY Doghouse though!!!!!!!    {In the background,  you can see (sorta) another fence,  a picket fence!!!}




Roaring Fork Creek was really gorgeous on this day...  We spent a LONG time walking up and down the creek along the way to see the cascades, small waterfalls and all of the Rhododendrons and moss.... In the picture above,  the moss was some of the prettiest I've ever seen, growing on the surrounding rocks.

George loved using his new Neutral Variable Density Filter ---and got some AWESOME water pictures... I'll show some of them in another blog.  I want him to publish an entire album page with some of these water pictures... They are about as professional-looking as any I've ever seen.  I'm so proud of him!




Roaring Fork is one of the prettiest streams in the Smokies I think.  It starts its descent down the mountain at over 5000 feet in elevation --and drops over 2500 feet in two miles. 

George took this picture of me while I sat and enjoyed listening to the sounds of the creek as it flowed downhill.   Give me a tent (with a heater on a day like this one) and I could just live here fulltime!!!! ha




After leaving the Roaring Fork area,  we drove down River Road toward Townsend.  Then,  we took another side trip on the FOOTHILLS PARKWAY, stopping at some of the overlooks along the way.  This is a picture of George with the Smokies in the background.  There was Honeysuckle blooming in this area ---and the smell was wonderful!!!   (The weather was improving --with sunshine during the afternoon.  BUT-the wind was cold and the temps still remained in the 50's.)




We knew that there was snow on the  tops of the mountains {Mt. LeConte (elevation 6600 ft),  Newfound Gap (elevation 5000 ft), and Clingman's Dome (elevation 6600 ft)} ----so I was glad to capture a picture with my long lens.  I think that that is Mt. LeConte in this picture in the distance. 




Finally,  here is one more picture of us --getting as close to the water --without jumping in!!!!!  I'm saying to George: "Come a little closer to me.. I'm COLD."  ha ha

We have more pictures from this trip to come...  I truly think that we are blessed to live fairly close to the Smokies!!!!!

Have a great weekend.  I'll see you on Monday.
Hugs,
Betsy

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's All about BLUEBIRDS

This past week,  I spent some time outside watching Mom and Dad Bluebird go in and out of the nest.  I haven't peaked yet to see how many baby Blues are in the nest,  but I'll bet there are at least four!!!!

I have a new toy...  George bought us a Radio Frequency Shutter Release...  To put that in 'my' terms,  it's like a remote control for the camera... I can set the tripod up near a spot (like the nestbox) ---and sit WAY back out of the way.  When one of the birds would go to the nest,  I would CLICK that photo...  Later on,  I just sat quietly on the back deck with camera in hand, and both Mom and Dad Blue came to the feeders... I got some great pictures of Dad---as he just took a 'rest' and sat on the feeder plate for a long time...

Hope you enjoy today's pictures,  and I'm sure I'll be using that new gadget again soon.  Above is a picture of Mama  peaking out of the nestbox...  Be sure and click on the photos to see larger views.




This is a picture of Daddy Blue at the nestbox.   Dad's colors are much brighter than Mom's..  She has blue in her --but it is a dull blue.




For comparison,  here's Mama Blue at the nestbox... 




Can you tell what that is?????  Mama was going into the nest to feed her babies... You can see her 'backside' in this photo... I'm sure she would tell me that that is not a very nice photo to post!!!!! ha




The rest of these pictures were taken while I just sat quietly on the deck...  I took a trillion of Daddy Blue as he posed for the camera!  Isn't he just gorgeous???   AND--he's a good Daddy... He protects the nest when the Blue Jays are around ---and he is so good to Mama Blue...   He is the one who goes in the nest and gets rid of the fecal sac (poop) --since they are very clean birds.




Similar picture --but they were all so good that I had a hard time choosing one over the other...  I was just thrilled that he trusted me enough to just sit there while I snapped the pictures... (I wasn't very far from him.)




I loved the way he cocked his head ---looking all around as he still was protecting his 'area'.




Mom came to the feeder --but didn't stay as long.  I did manage to get one good picture of her...   She's not as pretty ---but is gorgeous in her own way.  These are going to be two great parents.  I can't wait to see the little ones!!!! 




Here's one more picture of Mr. Blue....  I just couldn't stop snapping!!!!  He's one Proud Papa!!!!

Hope you enjoyed my Eastern Bluebirds.  They are always a favorite of mine. 

Have a wonderful day...  I hope to start catching up with your blogs today... I've just been extremely busy this week... Let me know if I miss anything that you want me to see.. Thanks!!!

Hugs,
Betsy

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 21st---SPECIAL DAY for US

Read  this post first (click HERE)  ---unless you have been reading my blog faithfully for several years...  OR--you may just want to read it again in order to see some OLD pictures of us!!!!  AND--- Click HERE  to see last year's post about this same day.  Amazing how the park and waterfalls can be so different from one year to the next. 

April 21, 2001 is when I got my first KISS from George.  We started dating on March 29, and our love grew very fast... On April 21 that year,  he took me to FALL CREEK FALLS STATE PARK.  This is where that first kiss happened, and it is also where our mutual love of waterfalls began.  Fall Creek Falls has several waterfalls --and we like to visit them all several times a year.  This is also the place where we told each other that we loved each other on that same day...

SO--we revisited Fall Creek Falls this past Saturday ---and relived those wonderful memories once again.  The weather didn't cooperate much --since it was misty, very cloudy,  foggy and quite cold.   This may have been the coldest April 21 we have experienced since 2001...  In most of the old pictures,  we were wearing shorts... WELL--not this year!!!!  In fact,  after our first little hike to the Cascades,  we even put our jackets on since it felt so cold!!!!

Needless to say,  the pictures are not as good as some we have taken in past at Fall Creek Falls (due to the dreariness and lack of alot of water in the waterfalls)... BUT--today,  I'll share with you some pictures from our day this past Saturday.  Above is a picture of the gorge.  You can see the fog in this photo...  Please click on the photos to see larger pictures.




This area of the park,  appropriately named after my Sweetheart (ha ha),  is where I got that first kiss..... Of course,  I got another one in that spot on Saturday!!!!!   WOW!




There is a grassy area at George Hole which leads to the creek.   The rocks on the other side are so interesting ---and full of holes,  where many birds make their homes!!!  Isn't the reflection in this photo great???




Of course,  we take our tripod wherever we go so that we can get pictures together.  Here is a picture of George ---trying out a new filter which he bought.....




Before we went to the George Hole area,  we stopped and walked down to the Cane Creek Cascades... At that time,  we didn't have our jackets on --but immediately put them on when we got back to the car... Did I mention that it was COLD?????   Why does colder air feel MUCH colder in the spring?????  Do I look cold in this picture?  I WAS!!!!!! ha




We took a nice hike and here is a picture of George on the trail...  It was a nice walk,  and in another blog,  I'll show you a picture of some Mountain Laurel beginning to bloom.




Our hike took us to an overlook across from two other waterfalls,  Cane Creek and Rockhouse.  This is a picture of me with Cane Creek Falls in the background.




Finally,  here is a picture of us --taken near the little dam in the George Hole area.  I don't know what one of us said--but we are both really laughing when that picture was taken.

After taking the hike and checking out the waterfalls,  George took me to the Lodge Restaurant for dinner....   Glad I had hiked that 3.19 miles (9657 steps) ---since I splurged and had some delicious Banana Pudding for dessert.... YUM...

Hope you all had a good weekend--like we did!  We're going to the Smokies today --so don't know when I'll catch up with blog reading...  I always try to do what I can --but life sometimes gets in the way!!!!

Hugs,
Betsy

Friday, April 20, 2012

Funny Birds!!!!

In my last bird post (click HERE) ,   I promised that I would show you some of the funny bird pictures I have taken through the years...  SO---today you get those pictures... Hope you enjoy them as much as I have....

Can you figure out what bird that is above????????  It's a ROBIN----a baby one!!!!  The hair on top which looks like bushy eyebrows makes him look like an OLD MAN..... ha ha




I love this picture of a CAROLINA WREN.  It was in the dead of winter ---and he was perched on top of a Rhododendron bud,,,  Bet that poor little guy was COLD!!!!!




I love this photo of the Baby CARDINAL ---as he tried to come to a screeching halt on the deck... Daddy Cardinal always brings his babies (who are bigger than Daddy now) to the feeders to teach them to eat.... When they are very young,  they'll just shake all over and make a tingly sound--which sounds like a little tiny bell...  They are begging Daddy to feed them --but he wants them to learn to feed themselves.  I love watching this process.




Have you seen birds do this? When I first saw this,  it scared me.  I thought there was something wrong with the bird.  However, since that time,  I've seen many birds do it... They do it in the HOT SUMMER --when the deck is VERY hot... They spread out and get the 'mites' off of their tummies---or at least,  that is what I was told....  Interesting, huh?  This bird is a TUFTED TITMOUSE.





I have several 'funny' pictures of our PILEATED WOODPECKERS.  When they are young and try to fly up to the suet feeder,  they don't quite know how to do it... I'll show you some more pictures of the different poses of some of our Pileated Woodpeckers in another post.    I love this picture of this woodpecker telling me to "butt out and leave him alone"!!!!!!!   Cute,  isn't he???




Finally,  here is one of my favorite photos of any bird since I have been taking their pictures... This is a MOURNING DOVE sitting on the birdbath.... Isn't this one just a HOOT????

Birds are so much fun to watch... This week,  I sat on the back deck,  watching Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird going in and out of the nestbox... They have a little growing family in there... Isn't that just special????

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Here's another flower blooming in our yard now,  our gorgeous RHODODENDRON.   I love Azaleas,  but Rhododendrons just take my breath away... Wish you could see all of the blooms covering our big Rhododendron now... Wow-Wow-WOW!!!





And finally,  here is another beautiful ROSE blooming in our yard now.   This is ALEC'S RED.   George brought one inside for me---and you should smell it...  Another WOW!!!!

One More Thing:  I've been on Blogger since 2009... As of this week,  I now have 500 Followers... Amazing,  isn't it???  How many Bloggers do you know who have this many followers without doing memes,  or giveaways,  or tags or awards?????  (That is the way that most people get more followers, which is fine --but I just don't choose to do that.)   THANKS to all of you for coming to my crazy 'waterfall/flowers/birds/travel/hiking' blog!!!  Have a fabulous weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Hugs and THANKS again for stopping by!!!
Betsy

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Flowers, Friends and Family

Hell's Fire Iris
As you know (from all of my posts recently from our yard),  Spring has been very good to us here on the Cumberland Plateau.  Right now,  we still have some Azaleas blooming,  some Roses beginning to bloom,  our Rhododendrons are blooming,  AND lots and lots of beautiful IRISES blooming...    I think  (as of now) that we have 16 different varieties of Bearded Irises blooming.   I showed you two of them (Autumn Bugler and Honey Glazed) in a previous post.  Today,  I'll show you a few more of our Irises.... Hope you enjoy seeing them.   Be sure to click on them for larger views...




Clarence Iris





Blatant Iris





Waltz Across Texas Iris





Hemstitched Iris  (my favorite out of this group)





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Max,  Teacher Betsy, Sharon
On another note,  you have to read this story!!!!!  I started teaching high school in 1965.  This was my first job after graduating from college in 1964.  I taught Choral Music and Math at West High School  in Knoxville, Tennessee from 1965-71.   I loved my first job ---and loved the students that I taught...

Anyhow--to make a long story short,  through Facebook,   I caught up with a couple of my favorite students.  Max and Sharon were 'sweethearts' in high school.  After they graduated and when I left Knoxville,  I lost total contact with them.  This past weekend,  they came to Crossville to camp---so we met back up --after 43 years...

What JOY for me!!!!  This couple did get married at age 18/19,  and are still very much in love after all of these years.  They have 2 married sons and I think, four grandchildren now.  Both Max and Sharon are retired and live in Maryville, TN.   They are such wonderful people --and I'm so glad that I could catch back up with them. 

They were so complimentary of me ---and what a difference I had made in their lives.  That makes me feel so good --since none of us know how we can affect others as we go through life.  I do know that I loved teaching ---and tried to do a good job sharing my deep love of music with all that I taught.

The funny part now is that I'm only about 9 years older than they are... As their teacher,  I'm sure they thought that I was much older back then!!!!! Isn't that a hoot??????

Thanks Max and Sharon for the wonderful visit!!!!!  I am so proud of the great Christian people you became. You two have obviously done alot to make a difference in the lives of others.  God Bless You both.

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Dawn and Jeff
Besides meeting Max and Sharon this past Friday,  George and I also spent part of Saturday  with son Jeff and his fiance, Dawn.   I don't know if it's because I am so happy in my marriage or if it's because Jeff had a rough first marriage,  but I am SO excited for this couple.   It's almost as if  "I" am getting married all over again!!!!! ha

Dawn is 'everything' a mother could ever ask for as a bride for her son.  These two are like George and me----they are good for each other and compliment each other.

The picture above is one of MANY pictures they made to use as 'engagement photos'... Isn't it a great picture???? I'm sure I've mentioned this many times,  but their wedding will be in October!!!!

Have a great day ---and thanks to so many of you for finding my two  surprises (the heart and the teeth) in my last post...  I often wonder how many people actually 'read' my blog --and how many just scan it.  (I hate to admit it, but I have been guilty of scanning blogs too on occasion when I am in a hurry!!!! ha)

Hugs,
Betsy