Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer at last

Finally, it feels like summer.  I don’t mean in terms of the weather, but more like the things I’ve been doing.  The weather has been pretty spectacular, mostly…other than a horrid flooding storm two nights ago.  We were not flooded, but many people were, and still are.

Someone and I played golf at my favorite golf course last week (Shawnee Golf Course in Shawnee State Park).  My game is not so wonderful lately…despite new grips (which really helped), something is not right.  I need to spend some time at the driving range to figure out the issue and correct it.  Even so, I had enough good shots to keep me in the game.

Favorite green - #5 at Shawnee

Also recently, I took my kayak out for the first time in 2017.  It was just a quick adventure Friday evening – I went to Greenbo Lake which is a nice place to go when time is short.  From my driveway to the marina is a 22-minute drive (well, assuming I don’t get stuck driving behind a tractor or other slow-moving vehicle.  There are few places to pass anything moving slow).  Me and my kayak are going on a proper adventure tomorrow.  The weather is supposed to be beyond perfect for June – sunny and low-70s.  Since it will be Monday morning, I’m hoping there will be very few people on the water.  I love to be out on the water when there are no people making noise.  Sometimes the fish swim up to investigate my kayak.  I like to stop paddling, slouch down, and put my feet out over the top, and just drift – let the current take me whichever way it goes (sometimes, there is no current).  When there are no people, sometimes I see beavers and deer on the shore.  It’s a wondrous thing, as if God created the world just for me.  My world, all mine, all to myself.

drifting on Greenbo

My raised bed has been giving us plenty of lettuce and radishes.  The lettuce – two kinds – has been WONDERFUL.  I’ll post a photo so you can be envious.  The pale green is called Green Ice.  The lettuce in the front left area is Simpson.  It tastes good, but it hasn’t been as prolific.  The carrots were pretty much a complete no-show.  I bought more seeds and planted them, but they don’t seem to be wanting to grow either.  As for the radishes, the first days that I used them, they were fabulous.  Now they are too big and tough.  They are very hot, and hard to even slice.  I should just pull the rest up and put them in our compost pile.  The beans are growing like crazy, but sadly, I think they will be ready to pick when I’m at the beach with someone on his vacation.  Maybe one of the girls will pick and eat them…but I doubt it.  The next time I plant radishes, I will only plant 25% as many.  I intend to plant more when I return from Myrtle Beach.

Carrots??  MIA

Right from the garden
Someone and I grilled out tonight for dinner.  That’s another summer thing we do, and something we did for the first time this summer.  We grilled pork chops.  I cut and cooked a small head of cabbage from our garden, and made salad with our lettuce.  The cabbage was wonderful – fresh cabbage is nothing like what you buy in the store that’s shipped in from Florida, or Texas, (or any other place its shipped from).  While we were eating on our screened porch, I kept smelling something that reminded me of honeysuckle, even though honeysuckle is not blooming right now.  Finally, I realized it was my corn plant.  My plant seems to be dying, but it put out two blooms after I repotted it last month.   It smells wonderful (but it is not a healthy plant).

Top of the corn plant - it's 12-feet tall now, and blooming!

Now for the big news…someone and I are grandparents.  Someone’s daughter, Katie, gave birth to a girl last Thursday (6/22).  Baby Alice is adorable.  Someone and I drove over to see Katie and meet the baby on Friday.  We don’t see Katie often, but I think with the baby, we will try to go more often.  It’s three hours, which is not too much, but everyone has busy lives.  My hope for the future is that Alice at least have some sense of who we are, and will look forward to seeing us.  I don’t want for us to be strangers.

Alice - born 6/22

Happy mama (Katie) with baby Alice

Speaking of strangers, it’s time for me to plan a trip to Indiana to visit my dad. That is a long haul – 6.5 hours or so to visit him.  It will likely not happen until we get back from Myrtle Beach.  He (and my mother) will be 80 this summer.  Which reminds me…I need to get a birthday card for my mother in the mail.  Her birthday is coming soon.  Knowing how my parents are (have always been) with my kids, it reminds me that I want to see Alice at least once every few months.  If not, we will always be irrelevant.

Today was gorgeous – sunny and cool.  Someone and I took Gracie to Greenbo Lake for a walk.  It was pretty muddy out there after all the rain Friday night that caused the flooding, so we stayed off the trails.  We walked past one of my favorite places, an old iron furnace that was built in 1850 and operated until 1900.  What I like about it, is that it is in a grove of mature walnut trees.  Absolutely wonderful to walk under.  

Buffalo Furnace - in a beautiful grove of walnut trees
Walnut trees on a beautiful day

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Girls' vacay - 2017

I am back (as of late yesterday afternoon) from a vacation with my girls.  It was wonderful to have six days with them – just me and them…my girls, all to myself.  I’m a bit greedy like that…or maybe that is me being selfish.  I don’t care – it is whatever it is.

Early Friday morning, we loaded up and headed for Weston, West Virginia for our first stop – the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.  The building has a very long and interesting history.  The building and grounds are huge – it’s hard to imagine the need for so many beds and rooms to store “crazy” people.  Of course, not everyone who was put there was mentally-ill.  Long ago, husbands could commit their wives for a variety of ridiculous reasons.  There is a separate building on the grounds behind the big stone building that was used only for criminally insane.  Also, we learned that during the times when lobotomies were common, according to hospital records, a famous surgeon (I forget his name) came three times per week and did an average of 100 lobotomies on each visit…for several years.  What amazed me most of all was that the place was open and a functioning hospital until 1989 when it was finally replaced with a more modern hospital in Weston.  We toured parts of four floors and some of the building for the criminals.

Directly in front - with some construction happening.
Center and left side - right side looks the same except it has mature trees in front.

After our tour in the sleepy little town of Weston, we drove another 4.5 hours to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  We crossed through some beautiful mountains and scenic views.  I had never visited those parts of the country (northern West Virginia, central Pennsylvania, and southern Maryland) – very pretty.

The next day, we drove a short distance to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to visit Chocolate World.  This is something both Erin and Emily had been begging to do for quite some time.  We learned how chocolate is made, and did a taste testing thing that was interesting.  There’s actually quite a bit of science (and art) that goes into chocolate making, because cocoa beans pick up flavors from the plants that grow around them.  We were given small bars of chocolate and a wheel of flavors to consider.  People in the audience voted for flavors they tasted in the chocolate – flavors like tobacco, cheese, cherry, banana, leather, wood, cinnamon, pepper, and many others.  Other than chocolate tasting, the most exciting part of the day was standing in line with a couple who were high out of their minds on something.  Sadly, they had two young boys with them.  The family was removed by park security.

At Chocolate World
Emily fulfills a fantasy.  

The next morning, Sunday, we took a train (Amtrak) from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.  It’s a short train ride – less than two hours.  The trip was great – going and returning.  I’m a fan of Amtrak.  

Philadelphia was not a great place to visit (my impression, and opinion).  For one, the streets are narrow, the sidewalks are narrow, and there are just too many people.  Traffic moves fast, there are lots of cars honking, and the cars drive close to sidewalks (because space is so tight).  Everything is expensive in Philadelphia.  Sanitation is not good – lots of smelly garbage and trash on the streets. Worst of all, it was beastly hot (mid 90s), and with all the asphalt and concrete and people – it was pretty miserable.

But...we had some fun.  I arranged an after-hours private tour of the Mütter Museum for us, which was a long-time fantasy of all my girls (and really, the only reason we were in Philadelphia).  They loved it – it was the highlight of our vacation.  Also, there was a Chinese Lantern Festival set up in a park not far from our hotel.  That was a wonderful surprise.  We visited that and had a nice time.  Our hotel was located on the riverfront of the Delaware River.  On our last night, we walked out on a pier across the street to get a better look at the river.  We made our way to the end of the pier where we saw some people sitting around, but we didn’t really think much about it…until fireworks began.  It was a nice show that we got to see, completely by unplanned accident.  After that, we walked on down the river to Dave & Busters – a restaurant that has a huge adult game room.  Loads of fun!  We played a Walking Dead game where we killed zombies with cross bows.  We also played 4-person air hockey, and some other games.  

We saw the Liberty Bell (of course!!!).  
We walked past Constitution Hall.  
We enjoyed the Chinese Lantern Festival.

The coy blowing bubbles was one of my favorites.
Lots of color!!
A glimpse of City Hall - my favorite building (from an architectural perspective).
Walking out on the Race Street Pier.  

On our last day together, we caught a very early train back to Harrisburg.  Gratefully, the long drive home from Harrisburg was uneventful.  We got to our house around 5:30 PM.  Sarah had to get all the way home last night, so we unloaded the car, and she left us for another 90-minute drive (thereabouts) to get to her house.  Erin will go back to Louisville tomorrow morning, and Emily is home for the summer.

Someone left early yesterday afternoon for a conference near Weston (where we had visited on the first day).  Since Someone is mostly undomesticated and he was home alone for five days, the house was pretty much a complete wreck.  It was disheartening to come home, tired from the long drive, and see hours of work to do.  Emily and I walked in first and just stood there in the kitchen surveying the utter devastation for a few moments.  She said, “So Mom, what’s it like to be living with a raccoon?”  I couldn’t help but laugh.

I love my girls.  What a lucky person I am to have had the opportunity to vacation with them!  In less than a month, I will do the beach vacation with Someone and his entire family.  Someone has already started packing.  I am not excited or eager to go, but it will be OK.  Someone’s folks will not be able to do this vacation too many more years, and it means a lot to them to have their kids there.