Monday, June 23, 2014

Our Crawford County Fair Family

     Most of us have some sort of extended family.  Although we may not get to spend much time with them, we know they will always step up to the plate when we are in need.

     My husband and I have quite a list that we consider our extended family.  Whole communities have shown their support during our need over the last three years.   Sharing this story of our local fair family and how they pulled together to show their support for us still gets me all choked up.  Fair time is just around the corner and speaking of this instance just last week, filled my chest with overflowing gratitude towards the amount of people in our community that can rally, when one of it's members is down.

     Nearly seven months had passed since our collision,  I had
already completed, I believe, five surgeries on my pelvis and bilateral ankles.  Just a couple of weeks prior I had learned to take my first steps using a walker and had progressed to using a walker with wheels!   What was equally as exciting was that I put on a pair of shoes for the first time in six months!  The ominous wheelchair was still in my life, but fair time was too rugged for that cheap seat to functional properly at the fair grounds.

    I refused to make our kids miss showing their livestock animals that year.  I did not want my condition to continue to dictate the activities of my family.  We could also use a "pick me up" by letting the kids have some fun and doing a little socializing ourselves.  I could endure two trips to the swine barn a day or I could sit on my blue Yamaha, four-wheelin' walker and let the kids take turns pushing me.  If I recollect correctly, it was only 117 degrees that July, which helped none with my already massively swollen anklesAll week our family received well wishes, hugs and sincere compassion from all who knew us.  


   The moment that took the cake was Saturday's livestock sale.  I sat next to the sale ring waiting for our kids to emerge one by one with their animals.  Our middle two daughters won the top two awards in the swine division, it was our high light of the week!

       As our second oldest walked the ring with her pig, I had one camera in my left hand taking a video and another camera in my right hand snapping photos.  I was being a "Mom" and loudly whispering for her to smile and look at the crowd when I finally heard the auctioneer say that she had set a record.  

     What?!  I was so busy juggling my cameras and insisting my daughter keep a smile on her face that I hadn't heard a single word the auctioneer had said.  Both cameras stopped following my daughter as I turned my head to the right to view the crowd.  I viewed a mass of people, but I didn't see a single face. 

      My vision had tremendously blurred with the turning of my head as my mind wrapped around what these wonderful friends of ours had  just done.  My lips parted in awe as I swung my head to the left to find my husband leaning against a wall with his hands stuck deep in his pockets.  

     His eyes were swimming with un-shed tears, that was my confirmation that I understood what was transpiring.  I held his stare for so long that he walked  over, knelt down beside me and wiped the tears from my cheeks ever so gently with his calloused knuckles.  "Carey, these are good people," he said softly.  Indeed you are, friends, indeed you are. 

     $17 a pound that piece of pork brought on that hot, humid day.  My daughter had no trouble keeping that smile from enveloping her entire face. To top it off, the hog was donated back to be auctioned off, this time to help with medical expenses!    
     I made an inept attempt to focus on the rest of the sale, but it was a futile one.  My emotions overwhelmed me as I sat in my lawn chair staring blankly, still in awe.  Leaving the show pavilion, an acquaintance said in earnest, "Carey, the 2011 Crawford County Fair is the start to a better second half of this year."  I believed that with all of my heart.  

     Looking back, I'm not sure how I even attended that fair or survived through the pain that it cost me.  Your can bet your bottom that I wouldn't have traded that moment for one pain free day.  It was a turning point, a boost our family needed, but never would have asked for.  That is what friends do best.   We couldn't be more proud to be a part of a community like this.  

We love our Crawford County Fair Family!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Photography: Rule of Thirds

     The Rule of Thirds is by far my Favorite rule of photography.  I naturally gravitate to using it in the horizontal format, but it can be equally as pleasing shot vertically.

     When applying this concept, the subject of the photo will not be in the center, but off to one side or the other.  The image is divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically.  This creates four intersecting points.  When the focal point of your picture is aligned with one of these points, you are applying the rule of thirds.
  You can view that she is in the right 3rd of the horizontal photograph, but also pretty close to the lower 3rd vertically as well.
     Here she is without the grid lines and the photograph is much more dramatic without the subject being centered directly in the middle of the image.(isn't she gorgeous?!)

     Same type of scenario with this beautiful cousin of mine, only centered in the left 3rd of the photograph.  We are naturally drawn to this image because of the composition,(rule of thirds), both by our eye and by emotion.

     Using this composition creates an impact to our images.  It becomes beautiful and a work of art and not just another ordinary "picture".  We may involuntarily part our lips or give a slight gasp when an image evokes emotion in us.  When you view your favorite image of someone or something, ask yourself why you enjoy it so much.  Emotion, I tell you!  All of this is due to composition!

       I do have a few vertical examples.  What is the subject of this image?  The railroad tracks.  They disappear into the fall colors of the trees.  They are not in the center of the photograph, are they?  They are in the lower third, this is more appealing to the eye.

      Phenomenal sunset.  How you choose to photograph it is up to you.  I chose to put the horizon in the lower third, the clouds and crescent moon aren't exactly on the intersecting point, but that's okay.  They are in the general area of the left third of the photograph as well.

     Using this rule is one of the easiest to learn concerning photography.  You do not have to purchase an amazing camera,  you can use a point and shoot camera, phone camera, it doesn't matter.  No crazy exposures to think about, just composition.  Now the hard part is making it a habit when you do take your camera out.  You will have to intentionally think about it for a while, then like anything else, it will evolve into your everyday photography.  Six months from now, go back through your photographs and see if there is any change in your composition, you could be pleasantly surprised.

     This is a fantastic concept to use for photography competitions as well.  You want your image to stand out from the rest of the images, correct?   Use this, I promise, it works.  Since it is fair time, all of you 4H'ers could practice this for your club entries.  Be a step ahead of the rest and make that judge stop in front of your photograph and get that blue ribbon!  For the rest of us, amateurs and pro's, it's just good practice.

Happy Shooting!
(photographers will not take offense to that greeting)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Developing Future Leaders, One FFA Member at a Time

     Many schools enjoy an FFA or Agriculture curriculum, that is if it can still find funding.  Many misinterpret this program as just a livestock or "blow off" program.   There are some, I'm sure, that use it for those purposes, but then there are some that take a deeper interest  and learn this programs motto and it's core values.

     We ended the school year in 2016 with many banquets/ceremonies and the FFA Banquet was among them.  Our two oldest children are involved and will sit in an office position starting next school year.  Each member played a part in the ceremony, relaying to their audience, the FFA creed and motto.  My husband and I listened to their words and wondered if each student took the time to really read and recognize the magnitude of what they were communicating to us.  Not likely, I know, as each member was just trying to get through their paragraph eloquently.

The FFA Creed

I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds - achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.

I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.

I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of progressive agriculturists to serve our own and the public interest in producing and marketing the product of our toil.

I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining; in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so--for others as well as myself; in less need for charity and more of it when needed; in being happy myself and playing square with those whose happiness depends upon me.

I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.

     Breaking that apart, I interpret several key factors:
    FFA logo.svg
  • "actions speak louder than words"
  • we learn from our predecessor's achievements AND mistakes
  • that we can actually enjoy an activity Outdoors and not just an activity that involves our thumbs (PS3/smart phone)
  • respect for ourselves and others
  • independence  
  • community involvement
     These members learn a plethora of skills that they will take with them to the path of college and into adulthood.  Some of the key components in the FFA motto are to promote self confidence, intelligent choices, team work, human relations, social interaction, positive attitudes, encourages excellence, builds character, volunteerism and citizenship.   This group of individuals still proudly state the Pledge of the Allegiance!  
     So as my husband and I sat on the cafeteria seats and watched our daughters receive their awards, we couldn't have been more proud that they chose to be involved in the FFA Chapter  at St. James High School.  Using this program to it's full potential will instill our youth with quality leadership skills and many will develop the confidence to become competent, young entrepreneurs while utilizing the proficiencies they learned by being involved in this wonderful organization.
     Why wouldn't we want them to join this program?  These youth are our future leaders, let's teach them that hard work, compassion and independence is not a trait of the past!!!


The FFA motto gives members twelve short words to live by as they experience the opportunities in the organization.
Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.