Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday Wonderings ...

Why is it that even though time seems to be flying by, it's still an awfully long time between paydays?

Where do television executives come up with some of the lame new TV shows that are out there? I tried watching the new Monday night comedy "Accidentally on Purpose" on CBS and ended up turning the channel it was so bad. Execs think that show will last more than one season? Seriously?

Why do the directions for making coffee say to use two rounded tablespoons of coffee for each 6-ounce cup? Does that not sound like a lot of coffee for one cup to anyone else but me?? It sounds to me like it would be so strong your spoon would be standing up straight in the cup!

Why on earth have I been having some hellacious heartburn on and off for the past week? Is this some other fun aspect of getting older? I never used to get heartburn ever and now it seems to rear up if I even just think about it. Pepcid AC has become my new best friend.

Why does Autumn seem to be the shortest season of the year? Winter and Summer seem to go on for quite some time - especially Winter - but Spring and Autumn seem to get the short end of the calendar stick. This is especially not fair when it comes to Autumn as that is my very favorite time of year.

Why haven't you placed an order for some really, really delicious baked goods from Fleur de Lis Catering yet? There's a great Blogger sale going on now that features 20% off the total order, excluding shipping, which means you can get great treats like this -

Mags' cupcakes

- at an even better price. And trust me, they're worth every penny!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gypsies & Zombies & Jersey - Oh My!

My oldest daughter makes for a beautiful gypsy - pictured here with our friend Amy at opening day of the 11th Annual Connecticut Renaissance Faire this past Saturday -

Amanda and Amy at the Renaissance Faire- but she also makes a good zombie as pictured in the 2009 Brooklyn Zombie Crawl that she participated in on May 31st.

This Saturday is the 2009 New Jersey Zombie Walk in Asbury Park (zombies in New Jersey, who'da guessed it?!?) and even though it wasn't originally in the plans for Amanda to lurch along with some of her other wannabe-zombie friends, I rethought driving up to New Hampshire to look at the beautiful fall foliage and decided instead that maybe a night at the Jersey Shore might not be so bad.

To that end, I booked a room for Friday night at The Berkley Ocean Front Hotel in Asbury Park right down the boardwalk from Zombie Central. The Berkley is one of the former grand hotels of the Jersey Shore that has been recently renovated but rumors have it that it might just be haunted!

I don't know ... looks kinda normal to me! If not, that's going to make for one heck of a blog post, ain't it?!?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Fair'ing We Did Go

Yesterday was Opening Day for the 11th Annual Connecticut Renaissance Faire held on the Lions' Fairgrounds in Hebron, Connecticut and having never been to a Renaissance Faire but always wanting to, I thought it was the perfect time to go and check things out.

Costumes aren't required but it's more fun if you have them so Amanda transformed herself into a gypsy and I was ... well, I don't know what I was!

No Renaissance Faire would be worth its salt without the obligatory turkey legs and that's what Amanda had for lunch. And yes, that's the "I asked you to hold it for me, not eat part of it" look that she's giving the camera!

We had a great time and I took lots of pictures and even though I'm not all that thrilled with how most of them came out I'll share some of them with you as soon as I can get a post together. I was too worn out to do one last night and it's off to work today for Chick Flick Sunday and all the 911 calls a girl could want! Verily!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An Award Prompts a Walk Down Memory Lane

Recently a new blogging friend Kat, webmistress of Kat's Corner, proclaimed my blog as "You Are a Great Read" and passed on the pictured award to me. I was particularly honored to get this award as the other two blogs that she passed it along to were cat blogs - We Three, Ginger cats tales and The - and we all know how many really good cat blogs there are out there!

Part of accepting this award is to take on the task of listing ten things about myself which is easier said than done when you've pretty much left your life an open blog for the past three years. What on earth could I possibly find of interest to write about that I haven't already told you about before? Well, how about some ancient history that perhaps I've not divulged before? Ten things about my time serving in the United States Air Force (which I thought might be appropriate being that Kat is a retired MSgt from the Air Force). So, here we go then ...
  1. I left for basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas at the young age of 17 on June 7th, 1976 after graduating from high school on June 3rd of that same year. I didn't want to give myself time to chicken out!
  2. I really, really, really wanted to go into Law Enforcement but there were no openings in that career field when I enlisted so I let my recruiter talk me into Ground Radio Repair instead as I somehow scored high on the Electronics section of my ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test.
  3. I was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi from July of 1976 until February of 1977 for training in my "chosen" career field.
  4. My very first duty station was at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey where I was assigned to a small radio facility that was actually part of Gibbsboro Radar Station which was located further south of McGuire.
  5. While stationed at McGuire, I met my first husband at the Academy Awards ... or at least a televised showing of them at the barracks!
  6. I once received orders for Spain but at the same time my then-husband, who was an Air Traffic Controller, received orders for Germany. We figured that commuting to France wasn't going to work so turned the orders down (which we could do as it would have required both of us to extend our enlistments).
  7. In 1980 I opted to change career fields, cross-trained over to Motion Picture Camera Operator, and received orders to be transferred to Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, California.
  8. Shortly after moving to California I became pregnant with my first child - Michael Joseph. At the time of his birth, I opted to leave the Air Force to care for my son. In retrospect I probably should have stayed in but my crystal ball wasn't working at the time and I gave up the option of being able to retire at age 37 had I made the Air Force a career. Idiot!
  9. I was honorably discharged on April 22nd, 1980 with the rank of Sergeant.
  10. Shortly after I got out of the service, so did my first husband and we moved to Stockton, California to begin civilian life. Later that year was when he told me that there were too many single women for him to be a husband and father and that was the first time I became a single parent.
And there you have it - ten things about me from what now seems like another lifetime ago. Thank you once again, Kat, for the lovely award and for the chance to stroll a little bit down Memory Lane. Now can someone tell me where the last 33 years went??

Friday, September 25, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday

Last week for Looking at the Sky on Friday I posted a picture that I had taken from the small turnout on California State Highway 50 just as you make the turn that brings you to an amazing view of Lake Tahoe. From the very first time I saw that view, I thought it was one of the most spectacular of all and try to get back there as often as I can when I'm out in California. Honestly, showing you pictures of it here is only a tease as to be their yourself is 1,000 times more phenomenal and gorgeous.

For this week, I have two more pictures that were taken from the same vista point the last time I was there - May 6th, 2009. My friend Cyndi and I had taken a drive to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains but the lure of Lake Tahoe was just too strong and I ended up driving all the way up to the lake stopping all along the way to take pictures (and thereby driving Cyndi pretty much nuts!) - still, I'm pretty sure you can see why! As I told her, she lives within driving distance of these sorts of wonderful views whereas I have to fly 3,000 miles to see them in person. Not being able to do that all the time, I have pictures - lots and lots of beautiful pictures ...

Speaking of lots and lots of beautiful pictures, you can find just them with more gorgeous skies from all over at my friend Tisha's blog and this week's edition of Looking at the Sky on Friday. Stop on by if you get the chance!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Post from the Past

I originally wrote this post on September 14th, 2006 but it seems to apply just as much this year as it did three years ago ...

With itchy eyes, a raw throat, constant sneezing, and a sinus headache just about every day I am having one heck of an allergy season this year. I'm definitely not alone as Amanda has been suffering from the same things as are a lot of other people at work. Whereas misery indeed loves company, what I really would like is to find something that works to relieve my symptoms!

It was predicted that we would have one particularly brutal allergy season and the predictions certainly weren't wrong. According to an ABC news report, Hartford is ranked number one this year in pollen and "Experts are calling this one of the worst allergy seasons on record, with people who never have had problems before reporting itching, coughing and sneezing."

I've always had Fall allergies with ragweed being at the top of my allergen list and I guess that all of the rain this year produced a bumper crop of ragweed that is now playing havoc on my system. I've been taking antihistamines and decongestants both to no avail and am seriously considering a move to Antarctica until things die down here! As much as I don't want to rush the cold weather, I've been hoping for a couple of nice killing frosts to do in the culprits that are floating freely in the air.

Oh well, relief is hopefully in sight soon as everything I've read says that ragweed usually only lasts until the middle of September and we're there now. That's definitely good news to myself and the other 75% of the population that is suffering right along with me!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kanye & I Agree!

Recently I was lucky enough to be a winner in the "I want to eat birthday cake with Lois" contest and after a day's delay (due to no one being home to sign for it from UPS) my luscious Lemon Yogurt Friendship Cake arrived on Tuesday much to my tastebuds' delight!

If you've never tried one of these incredibly moist and delicious cakes you have no idea what you're missing but should you like to find out for yourself then just head over to Fleur de Lis Catering and order one custom-made just for you. Trust me, you'll be glad you did!

Thank you, Lois, for the fantastic treat; thank you, Mags, for baking one heckuva scrumptious cake; and thank you, Amanda, for help with the graphic!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sharing Canterbury's Old Home Day

Nothing says "Fall" like pumpkins & mums & apples & scarecrows - all of which could be found this past Saturday at the 7th Annual Canterbury Old Home Day which I wrote about previously.

Presented by the Canterbury Historical Society, the fall festival was held on the historic Canterbury Green and drew a pretty good crowd from what I could gather. There were food booths, demonstrations by craftsmen, goats and rabbits, children running around in "period" clothing, old tractors, and live music by folks that definitely had that "old time" sound down.

The historic Green School was open for people to tour for the first time or walk through and reminisce about days gone by when they actually sat in one of the desks and learned reading, writing, and 'rithmetic in the one-room schoolhouse that has been painstakingly and lovingly restored by members and friends of the Historical Society.

I spent a good bit of time walking around and taking pictures of some of the various activities and booths while listening to the strains of bluegrass music wafting across the shadow-dappled churchyard and even spent a few minutes sitting inside the First Congregational Church in the same pew that I used to share with my grandfather on distant Sunday mornings long ago.

If I sat still and closed my eyes, I could still hear the sounds of his strong voice joyously singing out the hymns while the church organist played in the background. To this day I can still remember how proud and happy I felt to be sitting next to him on Sunday mornings. Unfortunately there were nowhere near as many of those Sunday mornings as I would have liked due to the fact that we only moved back to the area whenever my Dad was shipped overseas but the memories that I do have are definitely golden and ones that I will always treasure.

From what I could tell walking amongst the people who had come out to celebrate Old Home Day, a lot of them were cherishing some of their own golden memories, too. I caught snips and pieces of conversation "... remember the time ..." and "... it doesn't seem that long ago that we ..."

I think that's what Old Home Day is all about in every town that has them (and there are many) and not just Canterbury - the chance for people to get together and reminisce about the old days and share the history that they spent together in the place that they call(ed) home.

I've put together another video in order to share some of the pictures I took at Old Home Day and, because that's the sort of music that was being played, set it to one of my favorite bluegrass pieces - "A Man of Constant Sorrows" from the movie O' Brother, Where Art Thou? Not that there was anything sorrowful about Canterbury's Old Home Day - except maybe for that slight tinge of sadness I felt in the church while missing my grandfather all these years later.

Oh, and lest I forget - the Scenic and Historic 2010 calendar that the Canterbury Historical Society put together is very nice - and I'm not just saying that because it contains three of my photos (Katherine tells me that this means I am most definitely published as a photographer!). This is the first year that they've done a color calendar and it most definitely looks sharp! I was very pleased to have been given a copy by Ellen, the woman who had the idea for and was the driving force behind putting the calendar together, and I will proudly hang it on my wall when January rolls around. Pretty cool, eh?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Birthday to Lois!

I'm back to work early this morning so no time for a full post but I couldn't let the day go by without taking the time to wish happy birthday to one of the most fun and nicest ladies I've had the chance to meet in a long time - Lois Grebowski!

Lois and her fantastically funny hubby Hank are back on the road again in their trella and heading home to Nashville for a little while before heading back out again in to Michigan before too long. That woman sure is one travelin' fool but she does it so well while she gets to spread her own brand of sunshine to so many people in so many places. Honestly, our government would do well to make her an official ambassador!

So, Lois - wherever you are and whoever's day you're brightening - may you have a wonderful birthday and a fantastic year. Oh, and I put a little something for you in the mail as you can see from the following video -

personalized greetings

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Critters Cuz I Can!

Cute bunnies!

A not-so-old goat ... and doesn't it look like he's smiling??

Oh, and before I forget! The picture in my Looking at the Sky on Friday post was taken on the scenic overlook on Route 50 in California just as you come around the bend and see Lake Tahoe lying before you. That site never fails to take my breath away and, as far as I'm concerned, is one of the most beautiful views in the world!

*Pictures taken at Saturday's Old Home Day in Canterbury

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Celebrating Canterbury the "Old Home" Way

Barn on Miller Road

Even though I was raised as an Air Force brat and moved around from one part of the country to another as a kid, I have always considered Canterbury to be my hometown. Truth be told, I didn't spend a whole lot of time actually ever living in Canterbury but that matters not - it's still my hometown as far as I'm concerned and has been home to many of my relatives over the course of many, many years.

Today Canterbury is hosting "Old Home Day" - the town's version of a Fall Festival on the Canterbury Green. Apparently the tradition started back in the 50's and 60's and was restarted seven years ago by the Canterbury Historical Society, of which my cousin is the current Vice-President and other family members belong to - see? that whole history thing runs in the family! Said cousin calls it a “hodgepodge of all different things” and in looking over the Schedule of Events, I'd have to say she's right on the money with that one!

A highlight of the event are tours of the old Green School - the one-room schoolhouse pictured above that was built in 1850. Not only did my beloved grandfather, of whom I've written several times in this blog, attend there but so did my mother and her siblings.

After the Dr. Helen Baldwin School was built in 1947 the school was still used for some kindergarten classes until the mid-1950's and then later housed the town's library until 2001 when new facilities were built. It was shortly after that, in 2002, that renovations began to revert the building to its roots as a one-room schoolhouse complete with old desks and a wood-burning stove. At one point, Canterbury had quite a few one-room schoolhouses but the Green School is the last one to be open to the public as all of the other ones passed on to other uses.

The Canterbury Green where the event will be held is also the location of my former church - the First Congregational Church of Canterbury - which is going to look very familiar to regular readers of this blog as its picture has shown up here several times in the past! This current church is the second building to stand on the Green that I personally am aware of (apparently there were two others long, long ago but I'm pretty sure I wasn't around for either of them!) - the first one went up in flames back when I was a kid though I still have memories of swinging on the bell rope and attending my Aunt Nancy's wedding there. Vague memories but memories nonetheless of my own old home days!

I've not had the chance to attend an Old Home Day in quite awhile due to my work schedule but Amanda and I are going to wander north today and spend some time walking amongst the displays and demonstrations and maybe even sampling some of the pie and ice cream or candy apples and popcorn that will be on sale. My Uncle Al will be displaying some of his antiques while my Mom, Aunt Eleanor, and Aunt Nancy help out with tours at the Green School; later in the day at 2:30 my cousin Dave will be performing with his bluegrass duo, Bear Minimum, and no doubt my cousin Amy, the Historical Society Vice-President, will certainly be there selling copies of the 2010 Canterbury Historical Society Calender - in which rumor has it there are several of my pictures - as well as other items to help support their programs and projects.

In addition to all that, the Prudence Crandall Museum will be open free of charge for the day so perhaps I'll take Amanda over there to take a look around the former 1831 academy for girls of wealthy local merchants that was run by Prudence Crandall, a Quaker originally from Hope Valley, Rhode Island. That is, she ran the Canterbury Female Seminary for wealthy daughters until 1833 when she had the unmitigated nerve and gall to admit Sarah Harris, the 20-year old black daughter of a free African American farmer in the community who had aspirations to be a teacher to other African American girls. When the wealthy and prominent parents removed their daughters, Prudence temporarily closed her school and then re-opened her academy to "Young ladies and Misses of color" who came from as far away as Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City.

When she did that, Miss Crandall was faced with great local opposition as townspeople committed acts of violence against the school such as poisoning her well and other abuse. The State of Connecticut responded by passing what was called "The Black Law" in 1834 making it a crime for anyone to establish a school for the instruction of "colored people who are not inhabitants of this State," or to teach in any such school without the consent of local authorities. As the citizens of Canterbury certainly didn't give their permission this law made it illegal for Miss Crandall to continue to operate her academy and she was subsequently arrested, spent a night in the Brooklyn jail, and faced three charges in court.

The case was eventually dismissed in July of that year by the Supreme Court of Errors but two months later the "good" people of Canterbury formed an angry mob which attacked the school thereby effectively running Prudence out of town. Fearing for the safety of herself and her students, the school closed on September 10th, 1834. That same year Prudence married and moved to Illinois before eventually moving to Kansas where she continued to be an educator and an outspoken champion for equality of education and the rights of women until her death in 1890 at the age of 87. In 1838, Connecticut repealed the Black Law and in 1886, supported by Mark Twain and others, an annuity of $400 a year was granted to Prudence by the Connecticut Legislature which she received until she died.

Opened as a museum in 1984, the Prudence Crandall House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991 and in 1995 the Connecticut General Assembly designated Prudence Crandall as the state's official heroine due to her "lifetime achievements as an educator and champion of human rights as well as her courage and determination which serve as examples to all who face seemingly insurmountable odds and to those who refuse to be limited by social conventions. To this day, her efforts to promote equality in education remains unequaled." I guess it's the least we could do after the deplorable way she was treated. Seriously - shame on us and it's certainly a very poor chapter in Canterbury's history.

My apologies, I didn't mean to give you all a history lesson here - apparently I just can't help it, can I? Anyhow, if you're in the local area and don't have plans for this last Saturday of the summer, you can find Canterbury's Old Home Day on the Canterbury Green just south of the intersection of CT Routes 169 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; admission is free and there promises to be lots for people to see and do. I'm sure it will be great fun even if you don't get to see sites like this one which I'm pretty sure doesn't appear in the 2010 Historical Society Calendar but is certainly part of my hometown's rural charm! Still you never know! ...

The cow in Dean Cemetery

Friday, September 18, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday

I've not joined in on my friend Tisha's Looking at the Sky on Friday meme in a couple weeks but while looking at some pictures I'd taken earlier this year I came across the below shot. I'd be willing to bet that there are couple of my blog friends who'd be able to tell me exactly where this shot was taken - let's see if they can!

For more great sky shots, be sure to stop by Tisha's and say 'hi' while you're there!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Thought

bird on a chair in Washington DC"Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." - Henry Van Dyke, author

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Wonderings ...

Why is it that when you think you have all of your bills paid off, another one shows up in your mailbox that very same day? The never-ending cycle is so discouraging!

Why is it necessary for someone to pull out in front of you and then slow down to a crawl when there are no cars behind you anywhere? There must be a big sign on the front of my car that says "pull out now!" because it happens all the time.

Why do people seem to think it's okay to throw their cigarette butts out of their car windows like the world is their big ashtray? That drives me completely and totally nuts and many a time at a stoplight I have been tempted to get out and throw the darned thing back in their window! The light usually changes before I can carry that out, though.

When did boxes of ice cream get to be so small while the prices have continued to go up? These days you can barely get a couple good servings out of one - might as well just grab a spoon and forget dirtying a bowl!

Where have all of the bloggers gone? Seems like there used to be so many posts in my Google Reader I could barely keep up and now there are hardly any. Is everyone over on Facebook playing Farkle and Farmtown?

When did it happen that football started before baseball ended? I just don't seem to remember the seasons overlapping when I was younger like they do now - or maybe I just wasn't paying attention!

Where did the seasons go and why are there so many leaves on my lawn already? It's only the middle of September and way too soon to break out a rake but I just might have to before long.

Would anyone be interested in commissioning a painting or drawing by Amanda? She's trying to earn some money for a few things she'd like and thought maybe her talent could be put to good use. I guess she's starting that whole "starving artist" thing at a very early age!

Who was the first person to ever look at a lobster or a crab and think "that would make for good eating"? Or even worse - a snail??

Why is it that I wake up with good intentions on my days off to get things done around the house and I end up going to bed with them still not done? Where do the hours and my ambition go?

Oh well, speaking of which, there are a few things I'd like to get done around the house today before I go into work for the afternoon so I'd best hop to it and step away from my Facebook page!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Into That Darkness Peering"

I haven't shared any of Amanda's artwork in awhile so when I laid eyes on her most recent accomplishment, I knew I had found my next post as I thought it was just too good not to share. (Prejudiced mother that I am!) She's been trying to do some work with acrylic paints and canvas - a medium Amanda normally doesn't dabble in - but one that she would like to learn as she feels that every new technique or medium that she tries can only serve to broaden her artistic horizons. This painting is only her second attempt at acrylics and canvas but I thought it came out really, really well.

The subject of the picture is Edgar Allan Poe and the title of the painting is "Into That Darkness Peering", taken from one of the stanzas of Poe's 1845 poem The Raven ...

"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more."

Now I just need to get Amanda to do a painting of a raven to put next to it and I think we've got some nice artwork to hang on the dining room wall. Hmm, I wonder what kind of frame to get??

Monday, September 14, 2009

Take This Tune - The 1978 Version

For this week's Take This Tune, Jamie offered up Earth, Wind, & Fire's song September which made it to Number One on the US R&B Charts in 1978 ... the year that I turned 20 and got married for the first time to a fellow airman that I met while stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. I guess you could call him Mistake #1 but that's getting off topic for this post ...

Even though 1978 was known for mostly disco what with the Brothers Gibb holding the two top spots on the charts with Night Fever by the BeeGees sitting at number one and Shadow Dancing by younger brother Andy Gibb right on their heels in the number two spot, I wasn't really into disco. Sure I thought Andy Gibb was cute but what young girl in 1978 with blood flowing through her veins didn't?? Disco was music that was made for dancing but having been born with two left feet, dance floors were something I avoided at all costs so when all of my Air Force friends would go out to the disco, I'd stay in the barracks and listen to music by myself.

I have always loved music - all kinds of music - and will listen to just about anything as long as it's good. Not being able to sing has always been one of my biggest regrets in life but trust me on this one, me singing is probably worse than me dancing! Not that it stopped me from singing in church choir when I was younger nor does it currently stop me from belting out songs in the car - sometimes to the girls' great dismay - but if I could have asked God for one gift, a singing voice may very well have been at the top of the list. Alas, God chose to bless me with great beauty instead (chortle!).

Anyhow, that said, I was looking back through some of the other songs released in 1978 when I stumbled upon one of my favorite musicians and songs - a song that has always been very poignant and never failed to bring a tear or two to my eye. I'm an admittedly sentimental sap and this song just gets me right there ... you know the spot ...

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad - Meat Loaf
Baby we can talk all night
But that ain't getting us nowhere
I've told you everything I possibly can
There's nothing left inside of here

And maybe you can cry all night
But that'll never change the way that I feel
The snow is really piling up outside
I wish you wouldn't make me leave here

I poured it on and I poured it out
I tried to show you just how much I care
I'm tired of words and I'm too hoarse to shout
But you've been cold to me so long
I'm crying icicles instead of tears
And all I can do
Is keep on telling you

I want you
I need you
But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you
Now don't be sad
Cause 2 out of 3 ain't bad
Now don't be sad
Cause 2 out of 3 ain't bad

You'll never find your gold on a sandy beach
You'll never drill for oil on a city street
I know you're looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks
But there aint no Coup de ville hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box

I can't lie
I can't tell you that i'm something I'm not
no matter how I try
I'll never be able to give you something
something that I just haven't got

Well there's only one girl that I will ever love
and that was so many years ago
And though I know I'll never get her out of my heart
She never loved me back, ooh I know
I remember how she left me on a stormy night
She kissed me and got out of our bed
And though I pleaded and I begged her not to walk out that door
She packed her bags and turned right away

And she kept on telling me
she kept on telling me
she kept on telling me
I want you
I need you
But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you
Now don't be sad
Cause 2 out of 3 ain't bad
I want you
I need you
But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you
Now don't be sad
Cause 2 out of 3 ain't bad
Now don't be sad
Cause 2 out of 3 ain't bad

Baby we can talk all night
But that ain't getting us nowhere
Been there - done that - have the broken heart ... and he's right, there ain't no Coup de Ville hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box - no matter how many boxes you buy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Favorite Picture from Washington DC

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that I would reveal today what my favorite picture was out of all the ones that I took and which appeared in the video montage of photos. Having taken well over 200 pictures there were a lot to choose from including this one -

I thought that the dark clouds approaching the Dome of the Capitol were pretty cool and gave it sort of a sense of foreboding. Then again, I really liked this one -

I think that having the people in front looking up definitely shows you just how huge the Capitol is - what a majestic and grand structure it is.

But, my very favorite and current desktop picture is this one -

This is the West Wing of the Capitol and I just love the darker clouds overhead as well as the architecture of the building. If you click on it, you can "feel" the picture much better in its bigger version. Even though I didn't really want anyone in the picture, after looking at it, I think that having the one lone Security Officer standing guard also adds to it. What do you think?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On to Washington D.C.

As part of our trip to Baltimore a couple weeks ago, Amanda, Darci, and I took the MARC train from Baltimore to Washington D.C. to spend a bit of time walking around our Nation's Capitol. I probably could have driven but I've always heard that driving in D.C. is a pain in the place you sit as well as parking being downright impossible to find so I decided that the MARC was definitely the way to go. The price is quite reasonable ($7 one way) and it's a rather relaxing ride, too, while you glide through about an hour's worth of Maryland countryside en route to the former swamp upon which our forefathers built the seat of our country's government.

We started our day by taking a taxi from our hotel to Pennsylvania Station in Baltimore. Darci had asked why it was called Penn Station when we were in Maryland and not Pennsylvania and the reason is actually pretty simple - the station was previously known as Union Station when it was owned by the Northern Central Railway but in 1884 the Pennsylvania Railroad bought the Northern Railway Line and changed the name of the station. The current station is actually the second railroad station to stand in this spot as the original was torn down in 1907 when it became evident that it just wasn't big enough to accommodate the railroad's growing number of passengers. In its place was built the current Pennsylvania Station which opened on the night of September 14th, 1911 with an attending crowd of 5,000 Baltimoreans who had come to inspect the new "gateway to the city".

I don't know if any of you have ever spent much time in any older railroad stations but one thing I have to say about them is that the architecture is always wonderful and you can generally find a stained glass window or two in the ceiling to gaze at while waiting for your train. Balimore was no exception with the beautiful ceiling above.

Unfortunately, the day we chose to go to Washington D.C. was not the best weather-wise; Hurricane Bill had stirred up some unsettled weather and the skies were definitely not blue. The temperatures couldn't seem to make up their mind either so it was alternately relatively cool to uncomfortably warm and to make it even more fun, the humidity levels were fluctuating all over the place. Ah yes, D.C. in August - what was I thinking??

Fortunately, Union Station in Washington is not very far from the Capitol Complex and that was our first destination. I had booked a Capitol Tour and even though we were going to be a bit early, I figured that would give us plenty of time to see the other buildings around the Capitol as well as spend some time in the Visitors Center.

As we arrived on the Capitol grounds, the sky had become even darker and thunder could be heard in the distance so I wasn't sure how much time we had before we got drenched. A quick inquiry from one of many the Security Officers nearby pointed us in the right direction of the Visitors Center where he told us we could definitely find shelter from the impending rain. Of course, it wasn't raining yet so that gave me time to take some (lots) of pictures of what has got to be one of the most impressive structures I have ever stood in front of.

Long, long ago in what seems almost like another lifetime so many years have passed, my father was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base and my mother used to bring visiting relatives over to the Capitol and other Washington sites. There are pictures of my brother and I on the steps of the Capitol but I was only three or four years old at the time and have absolutely no recollection of our visits except for those pictures. Essentially then, this was my very first time visiting the United States Capitol and I have to say that I was very, very impressed. I was awestruck at its size, I marveled at the architecture, and I have to say that I was quite proud of the fact that the building standing before me in all of its grandeur was my Nation's Capitol Building. I also felt very, very small with the dome towering over me but that's okay, I like feeling small from time to time!

I'll try to keep the history brief but some must be given as what would a travel post from me be without some history, right? In a semi-nutshell then - in 1791, President George Washington selected the area that is now the District of Columbia from land ceded by the State of Maryland. Before that, the federal government had no permanent site and the early Congresses met in eight different cities: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Lancaster, York, Princeton, Annapolis, Trenton, and New York City.

After selecting the land, President Washington then selected three Commissioners to survey the site and oversee the design and construction of the capital city and its government buildings. The Commissioners, in turn, selected the French engineer Pierre Charles L'Enfant to plan the new city of Washington, a plan which was influenced by the gardens at Versailles. The city's streets and avenues were arranged in a grid overlaid with baroque diagonals and the result was "a functional and aesthetic whole in which government buildings are balanced against public lawns, gardens, squares, and paths."

The Capitol Building itself was located on the brow of what was then called Jenkins' Hill. The site was, in L'Enfant's words, "a pedestal waiting for a monument". The building is located at the eastern end of the National Mall on a plateau 88 feet above the level of the Potomac River and commands a westward view across the Capitol Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument 1.4 miles away and the Lincoln Memorial 2.2 miles away.

The cornerstone of the Capitol was laid by President Washington in the building's southeast corner on September 18th, 1793 with Masonic ceremonies and since then the Capitol has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended, and restored. If you'd like to read more about the laborious project, please click on this link which will take you to a very informative webpage that tells you all about the Capitol's construction and also has links to many other pages that will give you wonderful information on the architecture and the art of not just the Capitol but the many buildings surrounding it.

The rain held off long enough for the girls and I to take lots of pictures outside of the Capitol and then we ducked into the Visitors Center just in time to keep from getting soaked. Inside is an Exhibition Hall, a restaurant, gift shops, and 24 statutes which are part of The National Statuary Hall Collection which is comprised of statues donated by individual states to honor persons notable in their history; all fifty states have contributed two statues each and they are on display in various locations in the Capitol.
On display is also the plaster model of the "Statute of Freedom" which stands atop the Capitol's Dome.

Following a quick lunch, the girls and I began our Offical Tour of the Capitol which starts with a multi-media presentation and then a guide leads you up to the Rotunda of the Capitol which is located in the center of the second floor. It's a very large, circular, domed room and is the place where Presidents and other distinguished citizens have lain in state so that the Nation can pay a final tribute to them.

It's a totally amazing room to put it simply and I would love to have had more time to look around at the statues and paintings that are there, especially the frieze that circles the rotunda which contains a painted panorama depicting significant events in American history. It looks like it's a sculpture but it's actually done with a painting technique on wet plaster. Unfortunately, though, they rush you through kind of quickly and I get the feeling that lolly-gaggers are not appreciated!

From the Rotunda we moved on to the Old Hall of the House which is now known as the National Statuary Hall. The House of Representatives first occupied the space south of the Rotunda in 1809 and used it as their meeting room for almost 50 years until it moved in 1857. Unfortunately, while we were in this room, I started to feel a little bit queasy and wasn't even sure if I was going to be able to continue on the tour. For a few fleeting moments I thought I was going to have to toss my camera to Amanda and try to figure out how to get back to the Visitors Center without causing some sort of National Security Breach but thankfully the impending feeling of being sick and/or blacking out passed and I was able to continue on with our group. Due to that, though, I missed almost everything the tour guide said while we were in the room and didn't get to take anywhere near as many pictures as I wanted to. Looks like I need to go back to make up for what I missed!

Our tour guide next led us downstairs to the Old Supreme Court Chamber which was used by the Supreme Court from 1810 to 1860. It was pretty interesting to be in the same room where so many historic decisions had been handed down over the years. We didn't spend much time in this room and it was hard to get any pictures as there were a lot of people in front of me but one that I managed to take was actually rather interesting when I looked at it on the computer as it looks like one of the judges may still be hanging around the old court in the form of an orb. Just as a note, I didn't use a flash when taking this picture and I had managed to hang back briefly when everyone else had cleared the room so there was no residual flash from anyone else's camera either. Truth be told, I'm rather surprised that this was the only orb I got on a picture in the entire Capitol, though I did get a rotunda full of them at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History while we were there.

Moving on, our last stop in the Capitol was The Crypt which is on the first floor of the building directly under the rotunda. Our guide told us that the original intent was for President George Washington to be buried there but obviously he's not as he's buried at his Mount Vernon home across the Potomac River. There is a star in the center of the floor which denotes the point from which the streets in Washington are laid out and numbered and the forty columns that surround it support the rotunda. The room is now used to house more of The National Statuary Collection.

Our tour ended there so it was back outside in the hopes that the rain had stopped so that we could see more of Washington. After walking around the rest of the Capitol building, we grabbed a taxi to take us to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. While the girls walked around the various exhibits, I found a nice bench and apparently fell asleep for a little while! I kept thinking I wanted to go up and look at the Hope Diamond but I just couldn't seem to get my feet to move in that direction!

It had started raining again while we were in the museum and at that point I was beginning to wonder how much more we were going to be able to see, though it seemed like we hadn't really seen anything yet except the Capitol. I hated the fact that there we were in Washington D.C. with so much to see around us and the weather was so lousy; add on the fact that Amanda's feet were bothering her and she wasn't liking the humidity at all and it was enough to make me think we should just head back to Union Station and go back to Baltimore. Still, I really, really wanted to see the World War II Memorial and it had stopped raining again so I talked the girls into doing some more walking.

The World War II Memorial is located in between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool. The monument is dedicated to the 16 million who served in the United States Armed Forces during World War II, the more than 400,000 who died, and all who supported the war effort from home. If you biggify this collage, you can read some of the great quotes that are part of the memorial.

Construction of the memorial began in September of 2001 and it was opened on April 29th, 2004. It commemorates the sacrifice and celebrates the victory of "the greatest generation" and it's really a sight to see. Actually, all of the monuments and memorials in Washington are sights to see as they help you to remember those who made this country the great nation that it is but this one was as far as we were going to get as shortly after we got to the World War II Memorial, the skies decided that they were really going to open up and let the rain pour down. Even though we were just a short distance from the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Wall, and the Lincoln Monument I knew that it was probably time to call it a day.

After flagging down another taxi, we rode back to Union Station in the pouring rain and caught the MARC train back to Baltimore. This time we took the Camden Line which dropped us off just outside of Camden Yards, the impressive brick home of the Baltimore Orioles. It was only a couple of blocks from there to the Inner Harbor so we decided to walk down there to find a place to have dinner. Amanda chose the Hard Rock Cafe and even though it wasn't my first choice I really did enjoy our waiter who was funny and entertaining.

I had wanted to stop by Fort McHenry on Saturday before we left to head back north but the day didn't exactly dawn bright and sunny ...

... and I opted instead to just hit the turnpike and start the drive home. I just wasn't up to dealing with anymore heat and humidity plus I'd worn a nice hole in the side of my right foot walking around Washington. As much as I would have liked to go see the fort, I didn't think the girls would be all that interested and I was definitely ready to go home. I think that next time I'd really like to have another adult along for the ride even though I enjoyed Amanda and Darci's company.

As per usual, I have put together a video with some of the many pictures that I took; this one is set to yet another piece of music from Doctor Who but that's probably because I've come to really like the soundtrack music as it seems to lend itself to videos! I hope you enjoy (be sure to press the HQ button as it looks so much better!) and go ahead and try to guess which picture out of all them is my very favorite ... I'll let you know tomorrow which one it was!

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Remembered

“I don't know about you, but moderation and restraint is not what I felt when I watched the twin towers crumble to the ground, a side of the Pentagon destroyed, and almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens perish in flames and rubble.” - Karl Rove

Eight years ago today one of the most horrific acts of terrorism in the history of mankind occurred less than 2-1/2 hours away from where I live. There is still no way to adequately describe the shock, dismay, and overwhelming sadness that I, like millions around the world, felt that day. I still don't understand that kind of hatred and I probably never will. To be honest, I don't ever want to as I am sure I would have lost a lot of my own humanity if I ever could understand or, heaven forbid, feel such hatred for my fellow human beings.

I wrote those very same words two years ago but they apply as much today as they did then. 9/11 was an act of terrorism - not some government plot to start a senseless war and I am appalled and disgusted with those who would suggest such a thing. To those people - including that asshat Charlie Sheen - I say get the hell out of America if it's so bad and don't let the Statute of Liberty kick you in the ass on the way out. Shame on you.

We should never forget those who died in the terror attacks - both those innocent victims on the four planes, the innocent people at the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and those heroic victims who gave their own lives to save those of their fellow men. May God continue to bless the families and friends of those whose lives were lost on 9/11 as they relive that horrifying day and may God give the rest of us the knowledge to remember what happened and why and not gloss it over these eight years later.
"On September 11 2001, America felt its vulnerability even to threats that gather on the other side of the Earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat from any source that could bring sudden terror and suffering America." - President George W. Bush

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank You So Much!

I wanted to take a quick moment or two before I went into work this morning to tell everyone who made my birthday yesterday such a wonderful one thank you! Thank you for the wishes via cell text, telephone, Facebook, this blog, radio, email, and in person. Thank you for the lovely cards, the beautiful flowers, and the hugs. Thank you for the homemade apple pie, the cheesecake platter, and the coffee brought to me in dispatch. Thank you for the lunch on Saturday, lunch on Tuesday, and the upcoming one tomorrow. Thank you for caring and for making me feel special - it means a lot! You are all the best and I am so thankful to have you all as a part of my life.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beautiful Birthday Flowers.

I just received there beautiful blooms at work sent from my dear friend Claire from across the pond. It's hard to tell here in this picture but they are actually a lovely purple color - my very favorite. Thank you, Claire for thinking of me - you are a fantastic friend in spite of being a cheeky Brit!

"Getting old ain't for sissies." ~ Betty Davis

As I was sitting here thinking about the past year and wondering just where on earth it got off to and how it seemed like there was no way that another full year just went by, I was reminded of a quote by one of my favorite cartoonists, Charles M. Schulz - "Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed."

Ya know, that just might explain where the last year went! I figure at the rate I'm going, I'll be sixty before I even had a chance to get used to being fifty!

Even though I just spent the past year at the age of 50, with the advent of my birthday today I am now officially "in" my 50's. I know that probably doesn't seem like a big difference but when you're 50, you're still awfully close to 49 - just a short step backwards and there you are but when you're 51, if you take that step backwards you're going to have to trip over 50 before you can get back to 49. You're kind of forced to continue forward or suffer the possibility of a flat tire on the road of life.

Not that I've noticed a great deal wrong with being smack-dab square in middle age - well, except for the assorted aches and pains I suffer when trying to get out of bed in the morning, the more frequent mental lapses, and the need to want to take a nap every afternoon! Fifty really didn't seem that much different to me than forty and I rather doubt that fifty-one is going to be at all different than fifty but still ... I know that time marches on but does it really need to go double-time?? Why is it when you're a kid it seems to take forever from one Christmas to another but when you're adult you still haven't put away last year's decorations and it's time to put them up again?

Is there some sort of hole in the time space continuum, a rip in the fabric of time, silicone mixed in with the sand in the hourglass of time that causes the years to fly by as fast as they do? Why is it that when you're a kid you can't wait to be an adult but when you're an adult, you wish you had enjoyed your time more as a kid? Just why is it that when you get over the hill you begin to pick up speed? And who made the wagon we're sitting in so wobbly??

Honestly, I've got no answers but I do have some wonderful quotes about aging that I thought appropriate to share with you today as my gift to you. I'd also offer to share some cake with you today, too, but as you can see, it's no longer edible! Sorry about that! So, while you guys enjoy these quotes please excuse me, I need to go out and stock up on Geritol, Metamucil, and some good vitamins!
Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened. ~ Jennifer Yane

Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children. ~ George Bernard Shaw

In childhood, we yearn to be grown-ups. In old age, we yearn to be kids. It just seems that all would be wonderful if we didn't have to celebrate our birthdays in chronological order. ~ Robert Brault

The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left. ~ Jerry M. Wright

Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself. ~ Tom Wilson

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. ~ Lucille Ball

Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle. ~ Bob Hope

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life. ~ Herbert Asquith

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Before Birthday Bingo

Not having to get up early on Wednesdays now gives me the chance to go play Bingo with my mom should I chose to go listen to other people yell out Bingo while I wonder what I did to tick off the Bingo Gods. I swear, it could be just me and the caller in the room and I still wouldn't be able to win! However, I am hoping for a miracle what with it being my birthday tomorrow so here I am with my Bingo dabber ready to go and my fingers crossed - wish me luck!