Herald The Cherry Blossoms

I finally had the chance to see this season's cherry blossom bounty yesterday, on the most perfect spring day. Sunny, barely 70 degrees F and no wind set the backdrop of a lovely two hour stroll around the Japanese Garden grounds. Armed with my cameras and accompanied by photo friends who don't mind looking at a single tree or flower for over 10 minutes, we studied the light, looked for bees and tried to capture the essense of these pale pink and ivory clusters of flowers.

Pink Sakura In Bloom


Buzz In




Puff Balls

In comparing these photos with my earlier Crab Apple blossoms, I had to research the difference between the Cherry and Crab Apple blossom since they really look the same. I learned the Cherry Blossom centers only have one single main stem Stigma carried on a Style, surrounded by numerous Anthers. A Crab Apple blossom Style branches out several Stigmas. That is the only difference! The petals of both local varieties are notched in the center.


Bonus photo - taken from my sister's backyard in North Carolina, where spring is 2-3 weeks ahead. Another Cherry Blossom - this one is a double style blossom, a Kwanzan Cherry. I did not know there was such a variety - they are so beautiful!

Double Trouble #cherryblossom #kwanzancherry #spring #northcarolinaspring

Finally, a group selfie of me and my photog friends, who will go to great lengths to get "the perfect shot":

Spring, Finally


Spring Blossoms - Early Magnolia and Crab Apples

Warmer temperatures and longer days bring on Spring's fleeting show of blossoms - cherry blossoms, flowering crab, magnolia, pear and other flowering fruit trees burst with fluffy petals that create a beautiful landscape. We started "sakura watch 2022" two weeks ago, monitoring tree branches for bud formation and progress. Early to bloom trees like magnolia and some crab apples kept us occupied while we waited for the full explosion of Sakura blossoms.

More to Come






Stand Outs

The photos above were taken early last week, before I had to leave town, and here is what the official sakura branches looked like:

Patiently Waiting


Of course, the Sakura burst into bloom the day I left town. I'm back now and hope to get out to see them before the show fades away.


Wormsloe State Historic Site

Day 4 of our Southern Swing has us driving from Savannah back north towards Marietta, but before we start that 4 1/2 hour drive, I convinced my husband to take an unplanned side visit to the Wormsloe State Historic Site, which had been showing up on my list of Top rated things to do in Savannah. For me, the biggest draw was the promise of beautiful grounds and entrance - a grand 1.5 mile stretch of live oak canopy.


We arrived just before the site opened and we were not disappointed. In the morning light, the Spanish moss filters and highlights the sun mixed with dust in the air for an ethereal feel.


Grand Entrance


The site has numerous trails and ruins of the original estate. We learned about the settlers to the area, the estate owner, Noble Jones. We enjoyed our visit and highly recommend the site to anyone visiting the Savannah area.


Southern Swing


Charleston SC - Fort Sumter

On Day 3 of our Southern Swing, we took a day trip from Savannah, GA to Charleston, SC with the goal of visiting Fort Sumter. The conflict on April 12, 1861 at this military garrison triggered the start of the US Civil War. This National Historical Park is accessible via ferry operated by Fort Sumter Tours.


We arrived into Charleston, just missing the first ferry trip, so we opted to walk from the Aquarium area to downtown, along the waterfront battery with its impressive historic houses. We ended up at the far end of the city at the park - White Point Garden. We walked back via Meeting street and milled through the open air markets.


We finally got to ferry out to the Fort and the tour was very informative.

Southern Swing

Spotted enroute to the Fort, a sand bar and a family exploring:

The Sand Bar


After the tour, we enjoyed "Linner" (between Lunch and Dinner, aka, a meal at 3pm) at Magnolias, another excellent restaurant on East Bay. Another great day of exploring.



Historic Savannah Georgia

It's Day 2 of our Spring Break visit to Civil War Sites of Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. On Day 1, we explored Chattanooga, TN.


On Day 2, we drive 5 hours from Chattanooga to Savannah, GA where we are staying in the historic district. Driving into the city, we pass by the retro Thunderbird Inn (we did not stay here - I thought the property looked cool)


Southern Swing


We stayed at a Hampton Inn in the Historic District. The hotel let us check in around noon and then we explored the shops along the river, walking its entire length, enjoying the warm, breezy day. We walked away from the river to Forsyth park and along the way stopped at the site of the alleged Forrest Gump bench. The parks and green spaces in the city serve as natural oasis with towering live oaks, providing welcome cool from the summer swelter. Upon seeing Forsyth park, the famous fountain glistened in the afternoon sun, a beacon at the end of the treed canopy of green flanking the path.


Forsyth Park


All that Glimmers in the Sun #oakcanopy #geogiaonmymind #savannah #historicdistrict #forsythpark #fountain


We enjoyed dinner at the incredible Alligator Soul Restaurant. At the time, the restaurant only allowed patrons with reservations. We nabbed the last available time slot, right when they opened for dinner; we normally eat early, so this fit our needs perfectly. I enjoyed this scallop entree:


Southern Swing


After dinner we walked the waterfront again in time to catch a beautiful sunset with the Georgia Queen:


When The Night Falls #savannahgeorgia #savannahriver #sunset #georgiaqueen #onthewater

It was a wonderful way to end our day.



March 2021 - Chattanooga and the Chickamauga National Military Parks

A year ago, Scott and I took a trip focused on Civil War Sites of the South. We used Atlanta as the hub to visit Chattanooga (TN), Savannah (GA) and Charlestown (SC). Scott planned the itinerary which was packed and in hindsight could have been optimized to reduce the hours spent driving in the car, but we covered a lot of sites over 5 days.


Day 1: we fly at the wee hours into Atlanta, pick up the rental car and head to the Chickamauga battlefield in Chattanooga, TN, a two and a half hour drive. The Civil War Battlefields are part of the US National Park system and visitors can take a self guided driving tour through the grounds. Stopping points along the tour are marked and audio narration (via cell phone) available for you to learn more about the site's significance in the war. I've included various photos taken in the battlefield:


Chickamauga Battlefield

Chickamauga Battlefield


More impressive was the drive up to Lookout mountain where the Battles for Chattanooga seiged. Atop the mountain we took in views of the Moccasin Bend River and learned that troops moved equipment, cannons, artillery and provisions up the steep topography of the mountain. There are rugged hiking trails if you want to re-enact the soldiers' path.


Top of Lookout #chattanooga #lookoutmountain #battlefield The area is rich with Civil war history, apparent as you drive through Chattanooga to the Missionary ridges. In addition to the Civil War site at the top of Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, at foot of the mountain is a popular attraction.


Winter 2022 At the Japan House

Even though spring is less than a week away, I have photos taken during winter that I’d like to share. This year’s winter started slow then decided to sock it to us in the form of a huge winter storm in February and another ice - snow storm two weeks later.


Honestly, I really like snow - the white brightens the dull landscape and when sun gets mixed in, there’s so much brilliance to enjoy. During the mid February storm, we received almost a foot of snow over 2 days. I opted to work from home and took some time to shoot snow selfies as the snow was falling. This was shot in my backyard with the iPhone 13 Plus in selfie portrait mode. I really like the results.


Snow Days


After two days of active snowfall, the sun came out so I invited two friends to visit the Japan House. We visit here often, mainly in the Spring and Fall. I had been waiting for a snowfall to complete my "seasons at the Japan House" Photo series.


Frozen Chains



Two weeks later and a snowy Sunday morning found us back. Friend My, texted me unexpectedly in the morning and after a pause, I kicked the lazy Sunday morning inertia to the curb and headed out. What an enchanting morning - snow fell lightly at first then suddenly we were blanketed by soft fluffy flakes. We were so happy to have gone out on this photo walk.

Sunday Morning Snow


Sunday Morning Snow


Sunday Morning Snow


Sunday Morning Snow

Finally, here's another snow selfie with my photo partner in crime, My.

Snow Globe Morning

Winter may be gone but not forgotten!


Life Update - Hip Resurfacing / Replacement

I’m seven days past, on the other side of my Hip Resurfacing surgery which is a form of Hip replacement. A week ago, at a facility in South Carolina, I had the arthritis, the deformed bone removed; these elements replaced by metal implants. I’m amazed by modern medical procedures that will allow stability back to my left side, will allow me to walk properly again and maybe even run a few miles.


It’s been a nine month, arduous journey, one that wound through unfamiliar terrain, shrouded with fog of uncertainty. A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined I would be in this place. A year ago, I knew nothing of this Hip Resurfacing procedure and the surgeon who would perform it on my left hip. Looking back, I can now see how the delays, changes, good and bad events have led me to this place, recuperating on the couch.


I’ve had issues with my left hip since 2017 and even stopped running in 2019. Increased pain coupled with other factors led me to seek the opinion of an orthopedic surgeon in August 2021.


The local doctor said I was a candidate for hip replacement surgery, but instead of a Total Hip Replacement, I should consider a Hip Resurfacing procedure instead. I learned that Hip Resurfacing removes less bone and would allow me to resume high impact activities. I was sold and scheduled the procedure for October 20, 2021.

Any surgery has risks and Hip Resurfacing has specific risks related to the implant used. My doctor stated he would only perform the procedure if he could source a specific branded implant for me. I won’t go into the details why but it is related to my frame size. Turns out Hip Resurfacing is very well suited for males but less so for females. The main risk is wear of an improperly placed implant which then sheds metal.


I proceed with the pre operative screenings, blood work, doctors appointments and cleared. I’m cleared at work for a 6 week leave of absence.


A week prior to the surgery, anxiety sets in. I pray, meditate and breathe. I prepare the home convalescing area and my friends are poised to help with meals.


The morning of the surgery arrives and I’m ready. 30 minutes before we plan to leave for the hospital, my surgeon calls me. He was unable to source the specific implant required for the Hip Resurfacing and would not be able to perform that procedure. I was shocked, bewildered and stressed. He gave me two options - come in for a Total Hip Replacement or be referred to a surgeon in South Carolina for the Hip Resurfacing.


I cancelled that morning’s surgery and opted to wait. I knew the South Carolina doctor was an expert with Hip Resurfacing with patients from across the country. Dr Thomas Gross publishes all his surgical outcomes in his website which also serves as an educational resource for Hip Resurfacing.


Four and a half months later, I’m finally recovering with a “southern hip”. I have nothing but great things to say about my experience with Dr. Gross and his staff at Midlands Orthopedics.


Looking back at the events leading to now, I can’t help but marvel at how everything worked out - personally, physically, mentally and even on the work front. I dealt with delays, lost X-rays in the mail, numerous phone calls, insurance changes but in the end, this is the way it was meant to be.


And since no post is complete without a photo, here I am convalescing with cat Louie and dog Charlie. I'm feeling great and looking forward to an uneventful recovery!



Freezing Bubbles in Cold Weather

I'm embracing the cold this winter with some photo inspired projects. My Instagram feed occasionally features videos of bubbles crystallizing, exuding a sense of wonderment and magic. This became my first photography project for 2022.


When the mercury dips low in winter, people tend to retreat to the comfort and coziness of the indoors. But unique and fun activities can be experienced in the coldest of conditions. One such activity is creating frozen bubbles and watching the phenomenon of ice crystallizing in less mere seconds.


With temperatures expected to dip into single digits, I found tips and tricks to blowing bubbles in the cold. Since I know how much co-worker Tammy relishes any science-oriented activity, I brought my homemade bubble juice and bubble blower into work one Friday morning when the outside temperature registered 4 degF. We formed spheres in the Plant office breezeway and watched the ice crystals form on the skin of the bubble. Once formed, the bubble crystallizes in 10-20 seconds.

Freezing Bubbles at 9 degF

The crystals above grew from the base of the bubble.


A few mornings later, I tried again, this time outside my house on a glass table, and the crystals formed throughout the bubble sphere.

Embrace the Cold #crystallization #freezingbubbles #singledigitweather

I even managed to take a short video:


And another one yesterday, at Minus 1 (-1) degreesF.

Another Chilly Morning, Another Opportunity for Freezing Bubbles

I used this website's resources to make my frozen bubble project a success: Create the Perfect Frozen Bubble




Copyright Notice

All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of Shirley LeMay Photography and Shirley Behind the Lens (© 2005-2020). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits the use of digital property to be used without the consent of its owner.

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