Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Visitor at Olde Hall Church

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

Last spring, April of 2014, Joann and I were in Kentucky for our annual photography trip. On these trips, I try to have a variety of sites to visit, and one of those things that I had marked was the Olde Hall Church in the tiny town of Hall.

There is no sign on the main highway pointing the way to Hall, so as is often the case, I missed the road the first time. It’s a good thing Joann trains her cars to turn around often, since we had to make a U-turn to visit the church.

As you drive along the tree-lined road into town, the first thing you see off to the right is the Olde Hall Church. It was built in the late 1800’s, but no longer has an active congregation. It is still used for community events, and has an annual community Christmas concert.

As Joann was finishing up her photographs of the church, a beautiful Great Pyrenees dog came over and lay down on some old steps.

Great Pyrenees are often used as livestock guardian dogs. They are calm, patient, and smart. When they don’t have animals to guard, they will guard something else.

We weren’t sure if the dog was guarding the church, the neighborhood, or us, but it was very patient as Joann crept around taking photos.

She is usually cautious with animals because they usually do one of three things: get skittish and run, get aggressive and bark, or get overly friendly and come too close to the camera to get any photos. None of these things happened with this dog. It just patiently rested or slept on the steps. We almost hated to leave, but finally we decided we had to keep moving.

We circled around through town and finished by taking a few more pictures of the church as we headed back to the highway and on to our next stop.

It was a pleasant stop and was nice to have a visit from a very friendly dog.

Happy Shunpiking!

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Learn about Butterflies Day

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

With the weather warmer than our averages for the first time since October, it seems fitting to look forward to spring. We don’t have any butterflies out and about yet, but today, March 14, is Learn about Butterflies Day.

I guess I shouldn’t be so quick to say there are no butterflies out yet, since the Eastern Comma overwinters here, and has been seen in Wisconsin as early as March 9 on sunny days. You could even see them when there is still snow on the ground. And one was seen earlier than that a few years ago when our youngest sister Peggy brought some wood into her house to burn in the fireplace. The warmth of the house woke the butterfly, and for the next several weeks, she had a Comma flying about her house.

You will see butterflies on most sunny days and if you want to photograph them, it is usually easier to do in the morning hours. Later in the day, they flit and fly a lot more, and it is usually hard to capture them in photos unless they find a particularly good wildflower or garden flower to visit.

Speaking of flowers, if you would like to encourage butterflies to visit your garden, you can plant some flowers specifically for them. Native butterfly weed, a bright orange flower is a good attractor as well as the cultivated butterfly bush. If you are interested in planting a butterfly attracting garden, an Internet search will easily bring you a list of plants and the butterflies attracted to them for your region. Rather than chase the butterflies, you can bring them to you.

Joann and I have had some interesting experiences with butterflies. She had her close-up butterfly encounter photographing on the backroads one day in late September. We’ve also had an ongoing interaction with butterflies on our spring vacations beginning with our first vacation to Kentucky in 2006.

On that vacation, we noticed that at every stop, beginning in Illinois, and every stop thereafter, we were visited by an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. At first we thought it was a coincidence, but through Indiana, into Kentucky, and even into Tennessee, at every stop, we would notice one of those yellow butterflies, often before we even stopped the car.

We didn’t think too much of it that year, but every year since, we’ve had the same experience. We’ve come to expect it and to look around at every stop.

On a trip to the Ozarks in 2008, we stopped to photograph an old springhouse at a trailhead in the Buffalo National River Park, and when we got out of the car, we noticed several groups of butterflies feeding on a wet area of the parking lot.

Butterflies are also a good way to get your kids interested in nature. For a birthday one year, we gave one of our nephews a butterfly raising kit. The kit came with the netted enclosure and a certificate to send away for the caterpillars and food. When they arrived, he and his family just followed the instructions and waited for butterflies to appear. They had Red Admiral butterflies, and they got to observe their whole life cycle. Once they were ready to fly, they released them outside.

In Madison, Wisconsin, you can visit Olbrich Botanical Gardens over the summer and see their Blooming Butterflies exhibit in the Bolz Conservatory. The exhibit includes local butterfly species as well as tropical butterflies. There are other butterfly exhibits around the country, so search for one near you.

You can also chase butterflies with a butterfly net as Joann did with one of our nephews one summer. Sometimes people capture the butterflies for a collection, but they were just trying to get a close-up look.

Finding and identifying butterflies is a good way to interest children in nature. Young children have a natural interest, so it’s easy to take them outside and look for butterflies on a hike or around your yard. You can identify the butterflies you find using a butterfly field guide or an online guide at one of the nature sites, such as

As I close this post, we are busy planning for this year’s spring vacation, and we are anticipating visits from butterflies again.

Happy Learn about Butterflies Day and Happy Shunpiking!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

February 18th marked the beginning of Lent, a six-week period of prayer, repentance of sins, and sacrifice for many Christians in preparation for Easter.

The penance associated with this period reminded me that I have some photographs to share related to the Catholic Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, commonly called Confession.

On May 12, 1963, near the end of my second year at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in East Bristol, Wisconsin, I was to make my First Holy Communion. There was much preparation for this sacred occasion, the hardest being the requirement to make my First Confession prior to my First Communion.

Making your First Confession is also supposed to be a sacred occasion, but it was more of a “scared” occasion for me. I remember being frightened nearly to death by the whole thing. First of all, I had to memorize a bunch of complicated words to say to the priest and then I had to spend some sleepless nights worrying about the sins I would need to confess.

When the day of our First Confession arrived, I and my classmates nervously lined up in the pews near the confessional. One by one, we entered the darkness of the confessional booth to confess our “sins” to Fr. Klaas, our pastor.

Finally, it was my turn. Shaking like a leaf, I entered the confessional and knelt down on the kneeler in front of the screen behind which the priest sat. Suddenly I heard the panel on the other side of the screen slide open and I could see the faint outline of Fr. Klaas.

Fr. Klaas: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Joann (after joining the priest in the Sign of the Cross): “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. This is my First Confession.”

Fr. Klaas: “What sins do you have to confess?”

Joann: “I fought with my brothers and sisters ten times.” (Well, it was probably more like 30 times, but I wasn’t going to tell HIM that.) “I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life.”

Fr. Klaas: “I’d like you to try to get along with your brothers and sisters and not fight so much.”

Joann: “Yes, Father.” (Like that’s ever going to happen! You don’t know these people!)

Fr. Klaas: “For your penance, I want you to say five Hail Marys.” (What? FIVE?!) “Now you may say your Act of Contrition.”

Joann: “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all of my sins because of thy just punishment. But most of all because I have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.”

Fr. Klaas (after pronouncing absolution, possibly in Latin): “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Joann (making the Sign of the Cross): Amen (Get me out of here, I can’t breathe!”)

The good news is that I lived through this traumatic experience and made my First Holy Communion, which was a much less frightening experience. The bad news is that I had to visit the confessional often after that, whether I felt I needed it or not!

And a big thank you goes out to my sister, Phyllis, for helping me to remember the words of the confession process, especially the Act of Contrition.

Happy Shunpiking!

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Monday, March 2, 2015

When Pigs Fly!

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

Yesterday, March 1, was National Pig Day. This holiday is most popular in the Midwest, with events held at schools, zoos, and museums.

And, believe it or not,, a website featuring free online greeting cards, actually offered 35 different versions of National Pig Day greeting cards.

This unofficial holiday began in 1972 when sisters Ellen Stanley and Mary Lynne Rave decided (according to Ms. Rave) “to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man’s most intellectual and domesticated animals.”

It is also a tribute to the animal that provides us with delicious pork products, such as pork chops, ham, and bacon.

There’s nothing tastier than a pork chop on a stick, which is a grilled treat often served by the Pork Producers Association at local fairs and festivals. And there are a few men in our family (you know who you are) who drool over photos and recipes featuring bacon. Bacon, bacon, bacon!

Pigs have been featured in books, TV shows, and movies. Some of the more famous ones are Hamm (from Toy Story), Miss Piggy (the famous Muppet), Wilbur (from Charlotte’s Web), Piglet (Winnie the Pooh’s friend), Babe (the pig who wanted to be a sheepdog), Arnold (from Green Acres), and Porky Pig (of Looney Tunes fame).

Pigs are also featured in many of our English expressions. We “pig out” on our favorite foods. And sometimes we “go hog wild.”

We “sweat like a pig” when we exercise and we say someone is a pig or lives like a pig when they’re messy or dirty, like the pig below.

Then there’s Ruth’s all-time favorite saying, “When pigs fly!”…which the pig below won’t be doing anytime soon! And don’t forget that “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

My apologies to all the pigs out there for being late with this post. And, as Porky Pig always said at the end of the Looney Tunes cartoons: “Th-th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

Happy Shunpiking!