Ye Olde Georgia Renaissance Festival

It’s that time of year again. Time for lords and ladies, pirates and wenches, fairies and fire eaters. There are only a couple of weekends left if you want to make it to this year’s festivities in Georgia, so you better hurry on out. This coming weekend is a pirate weekend! Arrr!

Speaking of pirates, I believe my husband transformed into one this year. Of course, he didn’t have a hat, so we set out for the hatter’s booth straightaway. We found the perfect headpiece to round out his pirate look. And since I spent so much time playing around with editing settings, I think I will share with you my cartoon-like photos. (If you want to see the regular photos, just click on the link to my Facebook page below).

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A might handsome pirate he doth make, methinks. Arrr!

I of course went for a gentler look. My intent was to be a fairy, but most everyone I ran across decided I was the Butterfly Queen…who is a fairy, but shhh, don’t tell.

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Our daughter was a fairy too. Of course, everyone recognized her as a fairy. She had wings.

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At the hatter’s establishment, our son momentarily transformed into Robin Hood…or perhaps one of his merry men.

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But alas, his transformation was short-lived.

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We also picked up the frozen queen and the queen mother along the way. The tiny queen was a little concerned that she might be recognized by her enemies, so we purchased a lovely mask from one of the visiting merchants.

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Near the gates to the kingdom sat a lovely couple who trained birds. They allowed us to meet their kind birds, a lovely little goose family and a delightful cockatoo. The cockatoo entertained us immensely trying to eat my toule and make a nest in a fair maiden’s hair. He even flitted over to say “hello” to our son.

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The tiny frozen queen adored the gosling, and after she visited the little one for a bit, she headed out for some adventure!

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Afterward, we headed over to a dragon hatchery. What adorable creatures we found!

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And of course, there were many more festivities…The Tortuga Twins, jousting, dog shows, face painting, and many more. It was a lovely visit, and we all look forward to returning next year.

(A big thank you to my husband, Jason Cato, for being the photographer this year, so I could enjoy the festival.)

Fairy Festival!

Every year in my hometown, we have a Fairy Festival. This year I took my niece since she loves fairies and all things pink and girly. You wouldn’t know this rough and tumble girl was such a girly-girl, but she is. We set out that Saturday afternoon in search of fairies…and Kat’s friend, Sam, who makes wonderful clay creations (check out her Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShipwreckSamantha?ref=shopsection_shophome_leftnav).

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Well, the last time I went to this festival was the first year it was held. Little did I know, the festival had grown tremendously. I searched high and low for a parking space, and eventually, I just had to make one. But we got parked, and headed to the beginning of the trail into Chimney Park (that’s where the fairies come out to play). It didn’t take us long to see evidence of the presence of these little sprites.

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We began to find fairy houses in various places throughout the park. And these sweet creatures had put up picture frames everywhere, so we took a couple of photos in the frames.

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These adorable little sprites also created bubbles for us to play in, and they had even invited a grand wizard bring out his bubble wands to create giant magical bubbles for all of the children.

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Then the most extraordinary thing began to happen. Ordinary children began to transform into fairies before my very eyes. Even my beautiful little niece began to sprout wings and gain an ethereal glow.

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Fairies began to pop up everywhere…little ones, big ones. They came in all ages and sizes and displayed a lovely array of bright rainbow colors.

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There was even a dog fairy!

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They were so beautiful! And I’m not sure, but I think my daughter may have fancied herself their queen as she paraded through the park with a fluffy little dragon on her shoulder.

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As we wandered around the chimney ruins…

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…we came upon the Great White Owl, guardian of the fairy village.

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He granted us entrance, and we were able to see the houses of the resident sprites.

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Each home was as unique as the fairy that lived there, and perhaps just as colorful. It was such a delight and privilege to be allowed to see the fairy homes.

After visiting the village, we wandered across the bridge and through the tunnel to dance in the ribbon forest.

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Then we painted some fairy rocks and hung our wishes on the wishing tree.

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All too soon it was time for us to leave the enchanted land and allow the fairies to return to the fairy realm. But they promised they would return next year about the same time, and we eagerly await their return.

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Feathered Friends

One of my favorite hobbies is bird-watching. When I was a little girl, I got a school assignment in science to go bird-watching and identify the birds I found. I asked Daddy if I could borrow his binoculars, and I headed out to find my little feathered friends. Ever since then, I have enjoyed watching for and discovering as many bird species as I can find. I entice my little feathered friends with various bird feeders around the yard and bushes and trees for them to hide and nest in. Over the years, many a little feathered couple has taken up residence in my yard, returning year after year to dine and nest. In fact, as I write, Mama and Daddy Mockingbird are chasing off an unwanted guest, Big Bad Mr. Crow. (I suppose he got too close to the kiddos in the nest when he spied that dead mouse on the walk. The mouse is in the woods now, and hopefully Mr. Crow will move on and the Mockingbirds can settle down with the little chippers.)

Speaking of mockingbirds, they are rather brave and interesting birds. For some reason, they aren’t too keen on the squirrels. They often dive bomb the little fur balls as they’re raiding the bird feeders. Mockingbirds don’t eat the seeds, so I have often wondered how the little thieves managed to attract their negative attention. I suppose maybe they just interfere with the bug-catching. I’ve also seen them dive bomb my Aussie a time or two…which was met with little to no recognition of their attempts. Needless to say, they don’t really bother with hounding her anymore (hehe…hounding). The mocking birds often chase after larger birds, and I hear their squabbles every now and again when I step outside. They seem to be somewhat ok with me hanging around, so I’ve managed a few decent photos of them.

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Now back to that crow. He had his fair share of chasing off the predators last Sunday. We were headed out to take a drive on that beautiful day, and as I was heading to the car, I heard that crow making an awful racket. He kept flying up into the air and then diving down to the treetops making quite a fuss. I turned to my husband and said, “What is that crazy crow doing?”

Well, within seconds of making that statement, I heard the cries of a hawk. My husband spotted him sitting in the very top of a pine tree. I had my camera in my hand, so I wasted no time in framing a few shots of that beautiful guy. Eventually the crow stirred him from his treetop, and I was blessed with several shots of that beautiful specimen in flight. I hear him occasionally and see evidence of his presence, but Sunday, we got to see him…a beautiful red-tailed hawk. He’s been resident in this wood for many years, but only on rare occasion do you get a glimpse of him.

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Another little guy I managed a shot of recently is the Blue Grosbeak. I was staring out of the window of my back door, and I thought I was looking at one of the bluebirds nesting in the backyard. As I squinted to get a better view (I wasn’t wearing my glasses), I realized that maybe I wasn’t looking at a bluebird after all. So I went to get my glasses and realized I was right. Right away I got my camera and zoomed in on him and got his picture. Then, I looked him up in my various bird books and identified him as a Blue Grosbeak…another fine specimen to add to my bird collection.

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The rest of my feathered friends are regulars and will flit about even when I’m outside. Sometimes I think the sparrows actually pose for their pictures. I managed a really great shot of one of my sparrow friends coming in for a landing on the feeder.

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And then there are the various and abundant sparrow photos…

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Then there’s my flitty little friend, the tufted titmouse…

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And the chickadee…

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A rare catch of a female scarlet tanager…

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And the cardinal…

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I also got a couple of shots of the missus before the mister shooed her away…

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And the tufted titmouse had a friend over, a female brown-headed cowbird.

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And finally, the house finches (finally, for the backyard anyway).

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Now, not all of my feathered friends visit the backyard. Sometimes, I go to visit them. I found this little guy hanging out at the park next to the lake. He was knocking on a dead tree trunk and sounded like a woodpecker. When I spotted him, I realized he wasn’t a woodpecker at all. He was a Brown-Headed Nuthatch. He was only at about head height on the dead trunk, and I think he was posing for me, so I got several good shots of him.

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My little bird collection is steadily increasing, and hopefully I can wow you all with some more great species before summer’s end. But for now, the birds bid you “Adieu”.