Sunday, May 31, 2009

Little House On The Prairie

Little House On The Prairie
Remember Michael Landon's TV show Little House On The Prairie based on the Laura Ingalls Wilder childrens books? Laura called her father Pa. Well, little Jack Aidan has started calling Jack "Pa". We refer to Jack as Grandpa and myself as Grandma. Jack Aidan doesn't call me anything but he calls Jack "Pa". It is so cute to hear! In the photo above Jack Aidan is asking Pa to show him the bluebird house that has been usurped by a pair of pretty tree swallows. Apparently tree swallows and bluebirds do not like to be in the same vicinity because since the arrival of the tree swallows our flock of bluebirds that return every year to our five bluebird houses have flew the coop! No bluebirds to watch have babies this year in the houses. But we do have the tree swallows here now and in a family mood. So little Jack is saying "Pa, bird, bird, bird."
So Pa and Jack Aidan go to the bluebird house that is on a pole in the yard. (The pole was the former lot sign for Quaker Homes who built our retirement house and I decided that it would make a good pole for a bluebird house.) Pa knocks on the side of the house to be polite and to keep the tree swallow if she is sitting on the eggs from flying out into little Jack's face. So Pa knocks. No answer. No bird sticking her head out or flying out. So Pa carefully opens the door and lets little Jack see the nest.

Little Jack says "Pa, Pa, bird, bird, egg, egg!" Except now the eggs have hatched and little Jack has discovered that there are these fuzzy looking worms with open mouths staring back at him.
"Wow!" says little Jack. Pa tells Jack Aidan that they must close the door now and let the birds alone. Then Jack Aidan says "Again, again, again!" So Pa walks little Jack around the yard and then they go back and do this all over again.

What does Grandma do? "Ma" is busy taking photos of this big event in the yard. That was until Friday when I misplaced my camera at Jack Aidan's house and haven't found it yet. Help! Wouldn't you know it. Just when this story gets good and I could climb on a step stool and snap photos of the baby birds to show you "Ma" up and loses her digital camera. Fiddlesticks!
Little House On The Prairie
to be continued as soon as Ma finds her camera.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jack Aidan

Jack Aidan, do you like your new home?
Let me think on it a moment, Grandma.

Yes, I love my new home!

What's Going On Here?

What's going on here? Can you guess? Look at this two and half foot deep and very square hole.
Look at this pile of dirt and rocks. We saw quite a few more like this in the neighborhood. By the way for all you Midwest folks, especially you Ohio folks this is Virginia clay soil. Good for baking in rectangles to make clay bricks for Virginia Georgian style homes. Not so good for growing crops. The clay needs amenities otherwise the soil clumps and doesn't allow enough oxygen to the roots of the plants. The challenge of gardening and farming in southern clay. I'm always amazed that things do grow here with this clay soil.

This man is waist deep in a hole pulling a wire across the neighbor's driveway under the driveway. These men who are mainly Hispanic are such hard hard workers. I got tired just watching them work.

You can't dig a hole without getting mud on your clothes and on yourself. And you can't get the underground utilities installed for the ability to get FIOS on June 8'th unless you do this.
All this so that we can have a better TV connection as well as Internet connection. Ten years from now do you think we will have to update again? Who know. Maybe before ten years the way technology changes. The last sentence was written by a woman who has seen heavy 78 records, small 45 records, very large 33 and a 1/3 records, then cassettes, and then Ipods that download anything from anywhere. Oh, and what were those funny shaped cassettes that Jack had in his orange BMW? I can't remember.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Skywatch Friday = My Spring Garden

Skywatch Friday = My Spring Garden
American Wisteria,Pink French Climbing Roses, Rose Knockout Roses, White Climbing Roses.
This French Climbing Rose is Zepherine Drouhin which was first introduced in 1868 in France.
It has a wonderful rich, old rose perfume scent. I sure wish that you could smell it!

Backside of swing and arbor with French Zepherine Drouhin rose climbing and blooming.
Another view of the backside of our swing and arbor which is my favorite spot in my yard.
The side of the arbor featuring purple American wisteria, pink French climbing rose and a very large rose colored Knockout rose.
Here they are: my older daughter Jennifer, my husband Jack and my grandson, little Jack Aidan. Jenn and Grandpa were showing little Jack how to smell the flowers.
More blue skies and more climbing roses.There must be over a thousand rose blooms on the two white Jackson Perkins climbing roses on the black rose arbor on the side of our house!
Yes, we had to show little Jack how to smell these white roses too!
Hope you enjoyed the blue skies of Virginia and our spring roses. Now go visit some other Skywatch Friday memes around the world by clicking here:

Happy Belated Birthday to Denny

Happy Belated Birthday to Denny
Born in May of 1957
The second son of my brother Paul and his wife Iona Mae
In the photo above Denny is eleven years old and playing with the family dog by his mother's flower bed. Do you remember those metal balls that people used to place on a concrete pillar years ago? I think the one behind Denny got broken when a beef cow broke out of Paul's barn and made a beeline to that glittery gold ball and rammed it to kingdom come. In the distance you can see Miller Road that runs from Russia, Ohio to the south and Miami County. In the distance too is the crossroad which is the Russia-Versailles Road.

This was the most recent photo that I could find of Denny. This was 1995 and he was showing my husband Jack his workshop in his garage. Jack and I are wishing you a very happy belated 52'nd birthday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When You Have Peonies In Bloom

When You Have Peonies In Bloom
When you have peonies in bloom you need to stay home and enjoy them. The look, the smell, the touch. The buds take a long time to develop and open but the blossoms go so quickly. As you can see by the bottom photo mine are starting to shed already and soon will be gone for another year.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Forty Three Years Later We Meet Again

Forty six years ago my sophomore roommate in Hamilton Hall at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio was Marian Sirotak of Brooklyn, Ohio which was and still is a southwestern suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. The last time I saw Marian was 43 years ago in her hometown of Brooklyn. Well, all these years we have kept in contact once a year thru our annual Christmas letters. But this past weekend we got back together for the first time in forty three years. When Marian emailed and asked permission to be our houseguest I jumped at the opportunity to see her in person once again but I must admit that I was a little apprehensive. Would we have anything to talk about after the first five minutes? And would our husbands who had never met each other get along and have something to say to each other? Well, to make a long story short there was absolutely no problem. We started talking and never stopped and our husbands started talking and they never stopped either.

Marian and Joe drove over from Morgantown, West Virginia which is exactly three and half hours away from our house in Virginia. They spent two nights with us and Marian and I had a great time remembering the things we did in our shared dorm room as well as classes and friends we had in common.

We each have lost track of all the girls we used to hang out with in Hamilton Hall and at the Catholic Newman Club at church. Conversation flowed like this. Remember the three girls who roomed together down the hall? Whatever happened to Barbara Ann Mushinko who worked as a waitress with you Joann? And whatever happened to Kathy Rock who was also from Euclid, Ohio and went to high school with Barbara Mushinko. Didn't they both marry Miami guys who were in the military NECEP program? What was their roommate"s name. Was it Paula? Wasn't she planning to marry a fellow by the name of Marcy from Akron who was going to be an army officer in '64? And what about that cute blond and blue eyed girl from Milford, Ohio outside of Cincinnati who converted to Catholicism our sophomore year? Obviously we had lots of catching up to do after forty three years! And we had a lot of unanswered questions too to ponder.

I found some old photo albums and we enjoyed looking at these photos. You can take a look too.
Here's Marian Sirotak in yellow and Kathy Rock in red, white and blue dressed to go to some costume party. Notice the cigarettes being held fashionably like Audrey Hepburn. This photo was in Kathy's dorm room where we hung out with Kathy and her two roomies Barb and Paula.I think the year was 1964. Here's yours truly in red with the gang of girls getting ready for the Miami Homecoming Dance of 1963. From left to right we have Sharon Patchell, Barbara Ann Mushinko, Paula Linton, Kathy Rock and myself. Now look below to see our dates for that homecoming dance.
Kathy Rock in blue with date Robert Huber from Findley. They married and Robert went to Vietnam as a marine officer. Paula Linton from Akron who married a Marcy. Paula's hubby went to Vietnam as an army officer I believe. In red is yours truly with Stan Shellenback from St. Louis who went in the navy as an enlisted sailor in the fall of 1964 at which time he and I went our separate ways. And last but now least is Barbara Ann Mushinko with her date Donald Mandeville. They married and Donald went to Vietnam as a Navy officer. I believe it was Marian who took this photo. She didn't go to the homecoming dance that year.

Look at this mess. This is the night Marian and I played a joke on those city girls from northeast Ohio. With the help of my then boyfriend Stan we got a bale of straw from Stan's grandparents' beautiful farm in Lebanon, Ohio and drug it up the stairs to the third floor and into the girls' dorm room and spread it all around the floor. How did we get in their room? We claimed to the front desk that we had locked ourselves out of our room and so we needed the master key! And I think Sharon Patchell was in on the joke. She steered the girls to her room so that Marian and I could do our dirty deed.
Here's the three roomies trying to figure out what they are going to do with all that straw. Notice that two of them (Paula and Barb) had their hair already rolled up in curlers for the night. No blow drying in 1963! Instead every night you set your hair in curlers and then took the curlers out in the morning to comb and style your hair. Every girl on campus was an awkward caterpiller in the late evening for bed and a beautiful butterfly in the morning for class.
And here is Barbara Mushinko at her surprise bridal shower in the spring of 1965 in Hamilton Hall. Notice the white cake. I had to make a second trip to the bakery with that gosh darn cake because I messed up the icing in carrying it to the dorm for the party and the cake had to be re-decorated on top.
Marian and I enjoyed reminiscing about the old Hamilton Hall gang and we both wondered where those girls are today and what they are doing. They are probably grandmothers now too. Dear blog readers, if you recognize any of these lost friends of ours, please contact us and give us an update on their lives. Marian and I would surely love that.
Now back to the top photo. Saturday night Jack and I took Marian and Joe to branch of Mimi's Cafe. where one of our neighbors saw us and was willing took our group photo. On the left in apricot is Marian with her husband Joe who is currently the vice-president of facilites and planning at West Virginia University in Morgantown. Of course, on the right is Jack and Joann, old retirees living in Virginia.
Memorial Day Weekend In The Suburbs of Washington D.C.
The air is filled with the sights and sounds of the men and women riding bikes to the Vietnam War Memorial from Virginia and 49 other states. This annual event always brings chills to my heart. What dedicated riders. This ride is now in its 22'nd year. Some of the riders are in their seventies and need the three wheelers to make the ride to the wall. I wonder if the number of riders will drop off as these Vietnam vets get older and eventually die? Or will their numbers be replaced by the Iraq and Afghanistan vets?
The biggest event was yesterday when they gathered in the Pentagon parking lot in Arlington and rode together over the bridge and into the District of Columbia to the wall but today they will be all around the D.C. metro area because it is Memorial Day. The day to remember all like my husband who had the courage to wear a uniform and go do what Uncle Sam wanted whether in times of peace or in times or war.
Many wars.
Many dead.
Many permanently wounded.
Many who served and returned home safely to go on with their lives.
Many who served and didn't ever walk thru that home door again.
Many who returned to spend the rest of their lives stagnating in a VA Hospital.
Many who came home but who never could get the war out of their minds.
Many who eventually became homeless.
Many who love their country but wonder why this had to happen and continues to happen.
Many who remind us that freedom isn't free but comes with a price.
Many are signing up right now after graduation to go serve.
Many lives.
Many stories.
Many memories.
This is Memorial Day.
The black flags are to remind all of us of the servicemen who are still POW's or MIA's. This is another very big reason for the ride each year. To remind us that not all those who went made it home safely. That we still have men aging and dying in Vietnam and there are others whose bodies have not been found yet and brought back to the United States for burial.

I took these photos during the 2008 Rolling Thunder Ride thru the streets of Washington D.C. And yes, all those bikes rolling by your spot on the sidewalk sounds exactly like rolling thunder on a beautiful spring day.

Here's an army truck to remind us that on this fun holiday weekend we have men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and being sent into harm's way. Did you watch the live concert on the mall last night? It was very moving---especially the two actresses who portrayed in a somber skit the mother and daughter who cared for their badly wounded son and brother home from Iraq. The wounded soldier who will never have a normal life again was in the audience in a wheelchair along with many other severely wounded and disfigured soldiers.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Today's Flowers Is Featuring Flowers In Middleburg, Va

Today's Flowers Is Featuring Flowers in Middleburg, VA
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Saturday morning Jack and I took a drive over to Middleburg, VA which is the epic center of the Virginia horse country where fox hunting and polo riding reigns supreme. There are several historic churches in Middleburg that have nice landscaped grounds. These spring flowers were at the peak of bloom along the side yard of the Methodist Church grounds. Enjoy.
White and Pink Peonies
Purple Pansies in the Bird bath.
A Stand of Orchid Irises
Pink Primroses Peaking From Both Sides of the Wrought Iron Fence

Now go visit some other My Fowers memes by clicking here:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Skywatch Friday On The New Jersey Shore

Skywatch Friday On The New Jersey Shore

Spring Lake, New Jersey

May 16, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

The Advent of Summer

Are You Going To The Beach Soon?

The homes, hotels and bed and breakfasts remind me of the Hamptons on Long Island.

The longest non-commercial boardwalk in the U.S. is at Spring Lake.

This long long boardwalk that is great for walking, running and biking exists thru the efforts of

folks who donated a bench with a plaque commemorating something or someone.

We enjoyed walking along and reading the plaques.

Of course, yours truly had to snap a few pics of the various plaques.

Jack told me I missed the best one that he read. It said in memory of ______who liked to bike along the boardwalk and check out the girls in bikini swimsuits.

Below are some beach plants sporting pink blooms.

Would you like to put your toes in that white sand?Below is a short video I made of the sounds of the ocean on a very grey and misty day. Click the arrow to watch and listen.

Hope you all will have a chance this summer to walk on a boardwalk and put your toes in the sand and the ocean.

Happy Skywatch Friday!

And Happy Memorial Day Weekend.

Now please go visit some other Skywatch Friday memes to see what other folks are photographing this weekend. Click here:

Heading Down The Highway Part II

Heading Down The Highway Part II

(Going From Berlin, NJ to the Jersey Shore at Silver Lake via the New Jersey Turnpike)

But first stopping for gas before heading to the turnpike.
New Jersey is only one of two states where you are not allowed to pump your own gas.
They do it for you and clean your windshield too!
And the gas is even cheaper in New Jersey than Virginia because the sales tax on gas is lower.
By the way, the other state where they pump the gas for you is Oregon.

These guys are really serious about getting your windshield clean.
First, the soapy water from the bucket and then the squeegy dry brush stroke.
It is like a scene from the '50s. Where's Fonzie?

Heading down the highway.

Admiring the homes in Hammontown, NJ which has the very interesting distinction by the Philadelphia Inquirer as being the most Italian city in the United States. More Italians per households of any town in the U.S. Who knew?! And how do they verify this statement? By the census? Maybe by counting all the Italian flags flying in the town or by counting all the garden plots? In Hammontown, NJ there are lots of organic Italian gardens and lots of grape arbors for growing grapes for making homemade Italian style wine. Sandra says this will be her project after retiring from teaching this June. Making homemade wine from grapes grown on the Jersey shore.
Which house do you like? The ranch above or this one with the big wraparound porch?

Heading down the highway.

Passing all the pine trees in the pine barrens of New Jersey and then admiring the acres and acres of blueberry fields. Reminding ourselves that New Jersey is The Garden State that grows lots of fresh veggies as well as fruits like blueberries, cranberries, apples and peaches.

At last reaching our destination: the boardwalk at Silver Lake on the Jersey shore.
Look below. There's the boardwalk.
It is the longest non- commercial boardwalk in New Jersey as well as the United States.
Only don't technically call it a boardwalk because it is made of Trex.
On the boardwalk.
More photos tonight for Skywatch Friday.