Reaching Home

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Birdhouse 4219″and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

No matter how many miles there are in the day, the last one is worth the journey.

No matter how wondrous the the sights have been, There’s no more sight more welcomed than your own doorway.

No matter how many voices have spoken or how high the song was sung, the words welcome home are the most beautiful.

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Blood,Sweat And Steel

Hello Friends! Tonight’s image is titled “Curves In Repetition” and if you want to purchase a copy please see the instructions at the bottom of the page.

When I think about workers laying down the tracks the image in my mind is of burly men with sledgehammers driving the steel. I can hear the hammer ring and feel the sweat of hard labor in the afternoon sun. The air is humid and thick with the smell of the creosote on the heavy wooden crossties. A civil engineer maintains a careful eye on the transit. Being off by a few inches now would mean missing the mark later. The crew works as single unit. Each takes his turn with the hammer in sequence with perfect timing. Somewhere along the way another team welds the sections together into a perfectly seamless pair of ribbons. Everything they do comes at price of aching muscles and stiff backs. The result is a web of steel, wood and concrete that stretches through mountains and valleys and across rivers in a way that adds romantic beauty to the landscape. They are artists and their medium is blood, sweat and steel.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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First Date

As the evening sun hangs it’s sleepy head the well worn tracks light up and draw the soul into the West. He stops at home just long enough to shower and change clothes and pull that special envelope out from inside the stereo speakers. He doesn’t really own any fancy attire. A pair of pants that aren’t ripped or faded. One of two button up shirts and the boots that he only wears on Sunday morning to Church. The socks don’t really matter as long as they’re clean. The clock on the wall says that it’s fifteen minutes after six but it’s always about three minutes slow. He checks his pockets one last time before grabbing the keys off the chest of drawers and heading out of the door in a rush. The rusted old truck grinds and sputters. Laying his head on the steering wheel in frustration he mutters “Please Lord. Not tonight” and he turns the key again. The engine has three hundred thousand miles on it, but it roars to life. He drives parallel to the tracks and heads into the city. The parking lot is crowded but he finds a spot out on the edge and pulls in. A cinder block serves as a parking break. He pauses for moment at the door and checks to make sure that he has the envelop full of cash and that he didn’t get any dirt on his clothes while “setting the brake”. As soon as he steps inside the restaurant he spots her in the corner pretending to read the menu as she waits nervously hoping that he shows up. She’s in that little black dress. She spent hours making sure that she looked her best but all he notices is that special sparkle in her perfect eyes that lets him know how she feels. The envelope holds every penny that he could save up for two weeks but it’s money well spent. Their first date is going to be perfect.

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Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Heading West” and is available for purchase by contacting me on Facebook or by using the Contact Form on my website.

4X6- $5.00

5X7 – $10.00

8X10- $15.00

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The Little Brick Church

Tonight’s Feature Image is Virginia’s Chapel in Cedar Grove West Virginia. The link will take you to the Wikipedia article. The article is short but states that the Church (also known as the Little Brick Church) was built in 1853 and used by both sides of the Civil War And that’s in the national registry of historic places. But, is that all that history is? A few facts and dates can’t tell the whole story. I often pass through when a wedding is taking place and the Little Brick Church is all decorated. I see friends and family gathering on the walkway and occasionally see someone taking care of the cemetery on the other side of the chain link fences. I have to wonder about the memories that were made here when the lot was more open and cemetery less full. Back in days when the roads were not paved. I imagine that the fields were open and picturesque. The church was full of live music and joyful noise. I imagine that a few sour notes were sung as the rest of congregation gave each other “that look” and continued to worship God in earnest.

The church wasn’t fully completed until 1912. A full generation after the Civil War. I don’t think that was a coincidence. It could only be completed those who had put away their harsh feelings about the past and fully committed themselves to becoming one family. And that brings me to main thought for tonight. If we want to complete the work set before us then we have to put aside the outside world and come together as one people. I’m speaking mostly to my brothers and sisters in Christ but this concept goes for secular organizations as well. Time on this earth is finite. Effective time is in even shorter supply. Don’t waste a second of it. Find some middle ground and complete the tasks at hand.

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Overcoming Produces Beauty

I’ve said it before about how much I love twisted and crooked, gnarly trees. The curls sweeps of the wood speak of challenges that were overcome to survive. I’m not sure what caused the arabesque in the trunk of this one but the moment I saw the double curve I fell in love with the tree. No doubt that it had to have carried the weight of at least one or maybe two larger trees as it grew. I also have no doubt that it’s unique shape prevented it from being harvested at some point in its history.

Sometimes God allows us to go through struggles that we don’t understand. We might wonder how much longer a situation will last. We might think that the burden we carry will pull us down. But if we just keep going and we don’t give up we can make it. Sure, there’s going to be scars and we may not stand as tall as some of our contemporaries. But, that doesn’t make us any less beautiful. It makes us overcomers and it makes us unique.

As I looked around at the surrounding forest there were hundreds of trees that were straight and tall. Some of trunks were so thick that you and your best friend couldn’t reach all the way around them by joining hands. But they all faded into the background. The only one that stood out and begged to be photographed was the one who was unique. One day this tree will fall just like the rest of them. As a woodworker I can imagine some bent wood furniture being made from crooked trunk. If it ever happens it will be a centerpiece in someone’s home where the others couldn’t compete with the graceful curves produced by overcoming the struggle. Don’t ever give up. Bend and adapt to overcome and you’ll grow into something special.

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Some Memories Of My Grandfather & A Special Sight On My Daily Commute

Out of all the jobs I’ve worked I think “Rancher’s Assistant” was my favorite. My Grandfather McClung made it seem easy. As a pre teen my responsibility was to count the cattle a couple of times a day and check the fencing for any slack in the barbed wire. Even though I haven’t been involved with cattle for many years I still have an urge to take a head count anytime I see cows.

I miss the long walks out to repair a hole in the fence line. It was the conversations and time with my Grandfather that made it special to share work. And then there was O’l Count. My grandfather’s cattle dog. When it was time to rotate the pastures (moving the cattle from one paddock to the next) we would open up a gate and tell O’l Count to bring the cattle. Without fail he would gather the herd and drive them through.

Occasionally a mother cow or the bull would resist but the dog was way to quick and agile for what seemed like a slow motion attack. He would dodge to the side and circle back around to nip at their heels. Most of the time this wasn’t a requirement. We always fed the cows something special when we moved them and when they saw the gate open they would come running like pets.

The cattle my Grandfather raised didn’t look like the one in the feature image. They looked like the one below. They were Hereford cattle.

I believe that it’s a Lakenvelder bull in the feature image. The Lakenvelder is a dairy cow and it seem that the milk would be perfect for dipping Oreo cookies. 😉

Needless to say that when I pass by this herd on my way to my day job I have a nostalgic reaction to seeing them even though they’re not the breed I’m used to. Believe or not this breed is an endangered species. According to Wikipedia there are less than 300 of these cows in the United States and less than 1000 worldwide. Which of course makes it an extra special sight in the Appalachian Mountains.

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What Was The Question?

Tonight’s image is an old mile marker that’s found along an abandoned road near the Meadow River in West Virginia. Apparently it marks mile number 42.

Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Universe have already begun to snicker. For the rest of the world here’s why. In the book and subsequent movies a large supercomputer named Deep Thought was built to answer the ultimate question of “What is the meaning of life, God, the universe and everything?” After billions of years Deep Thought came up with the answer 42. The irony was that the people who built the computer were long dead and by the time the answer came nobody could remember the question or why it was asked. Now, to be honest I have never read the book and was only present while the movie was playing. As such, I’m only familiar with the trivia. But when I heard the story I began to appreciate implication.

We as humans seem to be hardwired to want to skip learning experience and go straight to mastery of just about everything. We want the “cheat codes”. So much so that we often put more efforts into gaining the cheat than we do experiencing the win. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide the scientists and priests who spent all that time looking for the meaning of life did so at the expense of living life to its fullest. This is the folly of trying to win at all costs. It’s the struggle that makes the victory sweet. If you skip the struggle then the victory is hollow and you never really get to experience it fully. What’s more is that you tend to be so focused on the goal that the importance of the original purpose is lost.

Maybe I’m making that very mistake myself in trying to make my point. Let me close by simply saying that life is an adventure. One that you’ll miss if you try to skip ahead.

Oh and the answer to the question asked by Douglas Adams? Well, I have an opinion of course. The meaning of life, God, the universe and everything is that we were created by God to know the love of our creator. That’s it. It’s that simple. No need for advanced AI or billions of years waiting for an answer that’s as vague as the question. Just talk to him and listen for answers.

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