Sunday, July 31, 2011

Drive by shootings…

Greg and I have a pretty good system worked out when we go on road trips.  He drives and I don’t.  At least, I don’t drive very much, only when he is really tired.  I don’t mind.  I don’t mind driving, mind you, but I don’t mind sitting in the passenger seat either.  On road trips, especially when we get off of the Interstate, I have my camera armed and ready.

Over the years I’ve found that photos taken out of car windows usually suck…to put it bluntly.  But, I’ve gotten lucky now and then.  I know I can’t take a spectacular landscape when we are moving along at 60 mph.  I just snap things that are interesting to me and when I get them home, I make the decision as to whether or not they need to be tossed into the virtual garbage can.

Sometimes it’s an old barn, sometimes it’s a faded sign, sometimes it’s just an interesting curve in the road.  There’s always something worth seeing if you look out the window.

You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave...

If you see a curve in the road...take it.

A rather strange and macabre claim to fame for Norwich, Ohio

Friday, July 29, 2011

Staying in Altoona...

There is a feeling I get when I finally zip my duffel bag shut and start carrying stuff downstairs to load into the car.  It’s a feeling of both satisfaction and anticipation.  We’re going on a road trip.  I like travel of all kinds pretty much, but there is something fundamentally fulfilling about a simple road trip. 
It’s a good thing for me that I like it.  After all, I chose to live about 800 miles from my family.  And although these days we could probably fly that would take so much of the fun out of it.

What I like is tooling down the road to see where and how people live.  Of course, that means getting off of the highway now and then.  When time is no object, that’s what Greg and I do.  At our ages now, we also have to stop somewhere along the line and take a night off.  We just can’t do that 13+ hour drive straight through anymore. 
Greg and I decided to stay for two nights in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and take in an Altoona Curve baseball game, go to the Railroaders Memorial Museum and check out the actual Altoona Curve, a horseshoe curved railroad track that is billed as “one of the world’s most incredible engineering feats.”  In spite of the horrendous heat, we had a good time doing all of the above.  Here are some of my shots from our stay to Altoona…

Breakfast at Tom & Joe's

Inside the Railroaders Memorial Museum

The Knickerbocker Building

Inside the Knickerbocker Tavern

How many ballparks have an old wooden roller coaster in the outfield?? 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tomato Angst...

Summer equals bounty, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.  But I am disappointed in the tomatoes I bought at the farmers market in New York last week.  They needed to ripen up so up on the windowsill they went.  It has been a week.  Instead of ripening, they just have started to melt.  Well, not melt exactly, but they have gotten mushy, bad spots on them.  And they are still a bit on the hard side in general.  I guess I will just cut around the bad spots when I throw together the salad tonight.

What happened to the tomatoes of my childhood?  I can remember having them still warm off the vine with a little salt and pepper…summer heaven.  It has been years since I have gotten the same delight out of a fresh tomato.  Is it something I’m doing or are tomatoes just different?

I imagine that it is a little of both.  Tomatoes aren’t the same.  I am not the same.
  Heck, the world is not the same.

Tomorrow, I am on my way back to Ohio for my 40th class reunion.  I never thought this day would come.  How did I get so old?  I imagine that many of the people who have decided to attend are wondering what the others will think about the way they turned out.  I’m not all that concerned about what the others think.  I am sure that we all had hopes and dreams that didn’t come to fruition, in spite of our successes.  Some of us have gotten fat, some have gone bald, and some of us might look pretty much the same on the outside, but have not had such good things happening on the inside.  Like the damn tomatoes on my windowsill, all of our lives have had mushy, bad spots whether or not we want to admit to them.  But I guess I am grateful that bad spots and all, we are able to get together for a few hours, laugh and share some old stories…and, knowing my class, share a few cocktails.

While I have been sorely disappointed with the tomatoes in my life lately, I have been thrilled over the cherries and the radishes.  And I’ve never known an onion that disappoints.

Not complaining about the fennel either...


Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Virtual Riot of Flowers....

We’re in the middle of summer.

  This is flower season in the northern hemisphere.  There are flowers all around us here in Massachusetts.

  There is a plethora, a surplus, a virtual riot, a downright glut of flowers.

So wouldn’t I be remiss if I didn’t photograph a few? 


Straight or Curly?

I'm just mad about saffron....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bird Identification Needed Please...

Rumor has it that the woman who lived in our house before we moved in had an unholy fear of fire.  Whether or not this is true, I have no idea.  But I suspect that there may be some truth to the rumor because there are two large firebells in the house.   These bells would do an elementary school (built in the early 1900s) proud.  One is located on the front porch and one is located on the wall where our bed sits.  We disabled these bells shortly after moving into the house some ten years ago or so.  I figured that if one went off in the middle of the night, I would probably die of a heart attack before I would have any way of dealing with a fire.  We go with the modern smoke alarms now.

Of course, we have never bothered to remove these bells and the one on the porch has proved to be useful as a nesting place for barn swallows.  Probably five out of the ten years we have lived here, there has been a swallow nesting on that bell.

A bird took up residence again this year.  About a week and a half ago, I started hearing little teeny chirps coming from the nest.  Pretty soon the little head popped up.  Then soon after that, the baby was standing on the side of the nest.  When I saw that I naturally said, “Get back in there.  You’re going to fall.  What would your mother think?”  I am a mother after all and have a few mothering instincts.  But the next day, big and little bird had flown the coop.  I guess the baby was ready after all.

Now the dilemma…these were not swallows.  I am not certain what they are but we are torn between a Least Flycatcher and an Eastern Phoebe.  It kind of looks more like a Flycatcher but acts more like a Phoebe.  I got confused after I saw the pics I took.  After all, while the bird was nesting, we went out of our way to give her privacy and didn’t really do a lot of looking.  So, I am asking anyone who knows birds to help me identify our recent boarder. 

As an aside, the day after those birds left, I was looking out the window and saw a turkey walking through the yard.  We have turkeys pass through here on many occasions but this particular turkey was trailed by three little turkeys.  How cute!  I took a few pictures but the light was too low to get a good one.  I hope they pass through again before the babies get too big.