Sunday, November 29, 2009

We are family

I went to Jersey on Saturday to visit my brother and his family. My sister Judy had flown in from Florida for a surprise 50th birthday party for a friend and was staying at my brother’s place. I hadn’t seen my niece and nephew for awhile, and realized while I was there how much I’d missed them.

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This is Alexa. She was off to a soccer game (the second one of the day). She’s a tiger when it comes to playing soccer.

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This is Josh with his dad, my brother Pete. Josh is a hoot and a half.

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And he loves the camera.

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They wanted to see the photos as soon as I took them and seemed happy with the results.

All of these photographs, with the exception of the first, were processed using my favorite b&w actions. They’re from Kevin Kubota and are called chocolate syrup. I love the softness of the sepia tones. The chocolate syrup actions are included in his Artistic Tools V.1 pack, for those out there who are into this sort of thing. I bought the pack as a birthday present to myself last fall.

We went out to dinner and I rarely go out to dinner, so this was a treat. And then we went across the road to the mall at Cherry Hill. Wow! The Cherry Hill Mall is huge! The kids wanted to visit Santa and thankfully, there were only a few families in line ahead of us. It was a fun afternoon and I’m so glad I made the trip.

Today I am planning on avoiding Christmas decorating. I used to love doing it, but lately for some reason, it just makes me sad. What is up with that?!!

So what are you up to today? Inquiring minds want to know.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Meredith’s mom

This is Chris. She’s Meredith’s mom. She’s also mom to Danny and Billy. I see her every so often, as she is the daughter of the sister of my sister-in-law’s husband. You know, those people that you see at holidays and other special occasions?

I’ve known her since she was just a wee little thing, but I wish I saw her more often, because she’s totally cool.

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Due to events that were beyond my control, the last time I saw this family was [here].

And she has the most fantastic family, too. Nice husband and three well-mannered kids. And Meredith is her daughter.

Meredith does not enjoy being photographed.

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No. No. No. Meredith does not.

Run away from the lady with the camera, Meredith!

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Her brother Billy, on the other hand, is a natural. Thank you Billy, for making it so darn easy.

I would have photographed his older brother, Danny, but he was busy losing at Wii Bowling to my mother-in-law, who dusted the lanes with everyone present.

Apparently, my MIL is the queen of Wii Bowling.

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It wasn’t until my lovely niece, Kim asked Meredith to pose for a photo to put in her new apartment. “C’mon, Mer, I need a picture of you and I together for my apartment, k. Please?”

And Meredith acquiesced. (Dear Meredith: If you are reading this now, please look up the word ‘acquiesced’. I love vocabulary and I think you will, too.)

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And once she warmed up to the nice lady with the camera, I got this one as well.

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Thanks, Kim. I couldn’t have done it without you. And to Meredith’s mom: You have the most well-behaved, personable kids. It’s such a wonderful reflection on the parents when the children are a joy to be around. I’m just sayin’.

I’m already looking forward to the next time I see you all.


Friday, November 27, 2009

All I wanted on this day

Long-time readers of this blog know that I rarely, if ever, post photos of myself. But when I downloaded my Thanksgiving shots after getting home tonight, well I couldn’t help it just this once.

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I think that my joy in being with my sons is quite apparent. It’s all I wanted today. That’s Matt on the left and Shaun on the right, who I hadn’t seen for awhile.

The food was great, the company was a pleasure, but seeing my sons and listening to Shaun play the piano meant the world to me.

I think I need a frame for this one.

Next month, I celebrate my two year blogging anniversary. For two years, I’ve been writing a post nearly every day and I can’t believe how much I enjoy it. In July of 2008, I began my other blog, A Picture A Day. It’s been wonderful getting to know you, my readers, and visiting all the wonderful blogs out there. To celebrate, I’m going to be holding a giveaway later in December. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Until tomorrow, then . . .

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sometimes it’s better to have an empty plate

This post goes to all the people who are having a rough time of it out there.

You know who you are.

Life has handed you a plateful of trouble, and you're doing your best to deal with it and maybe praying for a bigger plate.

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Holidays are difficult, and I want you to know that I’m thinking of you today.

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I want you to know that I hope what's been put on your plate becomes more bearable soon.

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But for now, I want to say that it won’t always be like this. It will get better and it will get easier.

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All of the photos in this post were taken last Thanksgiving. This year my plate seems so much lighter.

Thanks to everyone who visits this little blog of mine, for your comments, for your support and for the absolutely incredible things you say sometimes. You rock my world.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The perils of working at a school

I don’t think I’ve done this little sweet treat justice with my photography. To see them all laid out, all 24 of them for a classroom and some extras, well it just makes me happy.

Sometimes I think it’s some sort of affliction that I have that makes me well up at the simplest things. Seeing these little treats brings back memories of when I was a doting mom and did things such as this.

This was made with all of the obvious ingredients shown here and was held together by frosting. I brought him home wrapped up and safely secured in my lunchbox so that I could share him with you. This cookie is just too darn cute.

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So one of the perils of working at a school is all the goodies that come out of the woodwork. I’ve been doing a great job of staying away from them lately, but I love Keebler Fudge Stripe cookies and couldn’t help myself with this one.

Another peril of working at the school involves the embarrassment I sometimes suffer in the morning car line by simply being myself. I told you about my recent Allman Bros. debacle, but what happened today was just typical me.

I never use a hairdryer at home. It’s just no use with my curly hair and it looks best when air-dryed anyway. So what I do is what anybody would do (or so I thought), and that’s dry it on the way to work using the fans from the car. I point the fans to my hair, turn the heat up just a tad, and then blast the air on my head. It takes about 10 minutes to dry my short hair this way and besides, it’s multi-tasking and is something that has always worked for me.

Unfortunately, this morning I was in lah-lah land all the way to school, day dreaming while driving, thinking about seeing my loved ones this week on Thanksgiving, and it wasn’t until I pulled into the school driveway that I noticed that my hair was still damp. Gah!

I’d forgotten to turn on the fans!

So I quickly turned it on full blast and put my head right up to the little slats on the dashboard and I didn’t care who saw me as I drove around the school and out back to my parking space. Unfortunately my co-worker Rich was outside in the car line directing traffic and now makes fun of the way I dry my hair. And he’s told everyone.

And apparently, everyone does not dry their hair thisaway.

I was more embarrassed at having been discovered rocking out to the car radio, so honestly this is nuthin’. Nuthin’ I can’t handle.

Loved loved loved reading all your comments yesterday. Thanks so much for filling in the blanks. I tried to respond to everyone who’s linked via e-mail because some of the answers were just so touching.

Until tomorrow, then?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Nothing I’ve done tonight is working out. I was fooling around with a seamless background border for my blog, but it didn’t go well. I’m going to keep at it because someday I know I’m gonna finally ‘get it’.

In lieu of a post today, I’ve decided to take the easy way out, and do this.

Outside my window it’s dark and chilly.

I am thinking that all I have done tonight is for naught.

I am thankful that I feel really well.

From the kitchen the cookies are calling me. Why can’t it be the cheerios? Or the apples?

I am wearing gray Polartech pants, white mock-turtleneck (I can’t stand turtlenecks anymore)an old Eddie Bauer wool vest, socks and my sheep slippers.

I am creating absolutely nothing. Nothing has worked all evening. It happens sometimes.

I am going out to the kitchen and pop a soft pretzel in the microwave. And have it with some Grey Poupon. I love saying Pou-pon.

I am reading Julia Child’s “My Life in France”.

I am hoping that my Thanksgiving recipes are a success.

I am hearing little yelps from George’s doggie dream. It probably involves squirrels.

Around the house it’s good to have clean windows in the living room. They were a lot of work.

One of my favorite things is when children at school are happy to see me.

A few plans for the rest of the week include gathering ingredients for my recipes, and seeing family members on Thursday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing.

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I took this photo at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania when they had their orchid display this past spring.

And now, if you will . . . Please fill in the blanks:

One of my favorite things ______________________________ .

Outside my window __________________________________ .

I am hoping ________________________________________ .

See you in the comments, my friends.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Evening in Paris

I’m apologizing immediately. I’m really really sorry if you came here solely because of the post title. (We’d all like to spend an evening in Paris, wouldn’t we?)

However, this is just a post with photos of a border collie, with the lights of the city in the background. I don’t know if I’d even call it a city. It’s just the lights along the main route.

I only wrote the title because of the lights, and that’s the truth.

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I went outside late this afternoon with camera in hand, and took some photos of George in the waning light. And it wasn’t long until I could hear the sound of


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I am not kidding. I heard them crashing from branch to branch.

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Soaring through the canopy of leafless tree limbs . . . and running along the ground.

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It’s distracting, I tell you. And I love the bokeh in this last shot.

And the border collie in it, as well.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Bokeh is pronounced bow-kay or bow-keh and it refers to that lovely out-of-focus light and all the different shapes and colors you see in the background of photos taken with a digital camera. It is created by light and and the glass in your lens and distance and wind and focus. It's a Japanese term for the subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of a photographic image.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A sunset, a border collie, a barracuda and a good movie

Does that sound like a good recipe for a lovely evening, or what? Well, except for the barracuda, that is.

First, the sunset.

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My husband took all of these photos early this evening while I was sitting inside relaxing and reading blogs. This is the hickory tree out front.

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Next, the border collie. He’s on the front porch basking in the last rays of the day.

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Yes you are, you beautiful dog.

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This is the barracuda. You can see it, can’t you? My husband really liked this one.

And last but not least, the movie. Last night my sister came out in order to take me for a procedure at the hospital today. (All is well and hopefully the whole gallbladder thing is but a memory). I thought it would be fun to watch a movie with her, and when I was at the local WalMart yesterday afternoon getting some supplies, I saw the Disney-Pixar movie “Up”. And it didn’t take long to decide whether or not to buy it. I’ve been wanting to see this movie since it came out.

We watched it after Survivor last night and I wasn’t surprised at how much I enjoyed it after all the wonderful things I’ve heard about this film. My favorite character is Dug the dog, who does a perfect impression of our George when he sees a squirrel.

Hope you have a wonderful day, my friends. It’s always good to have you stop by and I’m grateful for your visits.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The final leg of our journey

I’m so glad you could all come with me on my tour of the old village of Hopewell Furnace in southeastern Pennsylvania. This is the fourth leg of our journey and if you’re interested, you are welcome to read the three previous posts on the subject, explaining how this village came to be.

After a hot cup of coffee for my husband at the NPS office, we headed over to where the charcoal was made.

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If’s off to the right, down this path behind the ironmaster’s home.

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In the center left of this photo, just to the left of the fence, you will see the remnants of an old anthracite furnace. This furnace turned out to be a failed attempt at hotblast technology. The charcoal area is just to the left now.

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This gives us a good idea of where we are. With Valley Forge only 25 miles away, you can understand why General Washington had the Continental Army camped there. It was to protect the furnaces along the route that were supplying much needed ammunition to the army and navy.

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Here we have another endeavor that went south. This is all that’s left of the charcoal kilns that were built in the mid 1800’s in an attempt to modernize the charcoal making process. Below is a photo of what it looked like when it was in operation.

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Hundreds of hearths were located up on this hill, where workers turned 5,000 to 6,000 cords of wood a year into charcoal to heat the furnace. They sort of looked like small teepees made of thatch.

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The stream is directed to the water wheel which drove the blast machinery.

We continue on down the hill, passing the cast house and the blacksmith shop (seen in previous posts), traveling along the Horseshoe Trail which cuts off to the right here where the tenant houses are located. I didn’t get any photos here because there were a few families who were exploring in the houses. I waited until they were all inside to shoot the photo below.

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We’re going to take a right here, and head back into the woods, traveling along Hopewell Lake through French Creek State Park and eventually to our parking spot.

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But before we enter the woods, I take one last look at Hopewell Village and my favorite Robert Frost poem comes to mind.

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village, though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.


He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sounds the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.


The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

~ Robert Frost

Thanks for coming along on the journey with me. I loved walking on this historic property with you and hope you’ll come with me for future hikes.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our tour continues. Let’s take a walk on historic ground.

We’re back to our tour of Hopewell Village and Furnace in Pennsylvania, and this is the third installment. If you’re interested, the other two posts are below.

I liked the colors of this wagon that’s housed in the barn, but first I’d like to give you a brief history of this place:

Hopewell Furnace was built in 1771 by Mark Bird, who was already an important figure in the quickly growing iron business in the colonies. When the American Revolution came about in 1775, the furnace turned from casting stove plates to supplying cannon and shot to the Continental Army and Navy.

The Hopewell Plantation was sold at a sheriff’s sale in 1788 after Bird suffered financial setbacks that occurred after the war.

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The new owners suffered natural disasters, national recession and in the end, litigation closed the furnace in 1808.

It reopened in 1816 and from then until 1831, Hopewell enjoyed its best years under the leadership of Clement Brooke, the furnace’s resident manager, supplying iron products up and down the East Coast. The furnace went out of blast for the last time in June of 1883 after the steel industry began to flourish.

The property remained a summer home for the descendants of the Brooke family until 1935 when it was sold to the federal government and its 214 acres of historic land was set aside as a national historic site in 1938.

Are you taking notes? I hope so.

After we left the cast house, we headed up towards the barn. At each location, the park service has installed audio background on the building, where you can listen to people describe their position on the plantation, facts about their daily life and even what the weather was like.

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We met this handsome rooster who showed us who was boss.

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George has never seen chickens before and seemed a little interested.

After leaving the barn, we headed towards the springhouse where I pressed the audio button and listened as a woman described her life. She was in charge of housekeeping in the ironmaster’s house and she and her crew of unmarried girls kept the house shipshape, which was quite a job due to the dust created by the furnace.

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I’m coming up the little set of steps now that leads down into the springhouse. According to the audio and the sign I read, this is where the girls did the wash and in the fall, made cider and apple butter in the kettle on the big stove. The hogs and cattle were also butchered down here, and their meat and fat was boiled for scrapple, liver pudding and sausage.

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When I was growing up, scrapple was one of my favorite things to eat at my house. I loved how my mother cooked it, and served with ketchup, it was the best thing about breakfast.

When I grew up however, and found out what exactly was in scrapple, I stopped eating it.

Ok. Where were we? Oh yes, the house.

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The ironmaster’s house was built in three stages as the plantation grew. There are a few rooms that are open downstairs, but someone was getting very impatient with me. Someone had already been in the house and out again and was waiting for me to get on with it now.

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So I quickly went inside and shot this photo in what looks like the dining room. I think the kitchen is through that door and if I’m not mistaken, that’s a dog bowl on the floor by the door. I’m just saying.

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We’re now on the side of the hill and behind us, the NPS has built a visitor’s station. There are also restrooms and much to my husband’s delight, a coffee machine. Tomorrow, if you are still with me, we’ll walk around to the side of the hill where the charcoal was made, and then head back down to the road that will lead us to our path through the woods.

If you’re still with me, that is.

Respectfully submitted,