Thursday, August 27, 2015

Good Bangor Fences…

We didn’t have a lot of time to tour around Bangor, Maine while we were in the vicinity. But we did have about an hour before we had to get gussied up for the wedding we attended, so we drove around Bangor a little bit.

There were some beautiful houses with fences along the main drag like this one:

But of course, the magnum opus of all fences and houses in Bangor is this one:

This is the house of none other than the prolific and brilliant writer, Stephen King.  Pretty neat, eh?

Looks like Mr. King has a pet frog.

Linking to The Run*A*Round Ranch's Good Fences!

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Concatenation of Ephemeralities and Eons…

I don’t think anyone would argue with me when I say that life can be bittersweet.  This past weekend brought it home to me in a very personal way.

On Saturday, Greg, Carrie and I attended the wedding of Greg’s cousin Anne.  Although I am not linked to her by blood, I am very happy that she is also my cousin, even if only by marriage.  She is a unique and wonderful human.  It was an honor to get to spend this special day with her and her new husband, Peter.   The service was lovely, the bride was beautiful and the reception was a truly excellent way to spend a summer afternoon in delightful surroundings with very congenial, laughing people gathered to celebrate this happy new phase of Anne and Peter’s life together.

We committed to this event a while back and before I knew that a room would become available at an assisted living facility for my 87 year old mother.

  The last time I saw my mother, it seemed clear to me that it was time for her to be cared for in a way that was not possible for me or any of my six siblings on our own and my understanding is that things have gotten progressively worse for her since I was there.

  But dealing with the logistics of the whole affair was left to my siblings who live near my mother in Ohio.  We live almost 800 miles away in Massachusetts, so I am not always up on what is happening on a day to day basis or able to contribute in a concrete, everyday way.

Yesterday, my wonderful siblings did what was best for my mother who was not happy or cooperative about her situation and I have an untold amount of gratefulness for them in my heart.  They are the best!

Life is often bittersweet and the moments, both the good ones and the bad ones, are fleeting.  Although when we are experiencing the bad moments often those moments don’t seem to be so short-lived.

Alfred E. Kahn said, “Life is a concatenation of ephemeralities” – happenings linked together that last a very short time.   To me, that seems right most of the time.  Time does fly.

Last weekend in Maine was certainly over too soon for Greg, Carrie and me.  Still, while this past weekend was technically the same number of hours both in Ohio and Maine, I’m sure the weekend must have lasted a very, very long time for my sibs.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Things You See Along the Way in Vermont…

If you were having your yard dug up, would you want it done by the bourgeois?  When I first saw this, it occurred to me that this might not be the best name for a company, but then I thought about it for a little longer.   The word bourgeois means conventional, conservative and hide-bound and the antonyms are adventurous, inspired and original.  Yes, if I wanted someone to dig up my yard, I’d want them to be bourgeois.  I don’t think we need originality in yard digging.

Ever seen one of these before?  Me, either.  I like the originality though, don't you?

The bears in Vermont are so refined, they wear clothes and they always recycle.

Even without the license plate, I would have a pretty good guess where this car has its home base.  My favorite of the bunch is, “Never give up on your dreams, unless your dreams are stupid.”  Great advice!  Well, I kind of like the “Drink Vermont Beer” one, too.  

But seriously, I really am already against the next war.

Fellow blogger Nicki (Bended Road Photos) recently posted a gas pump similar to this one. The difference is that the one she posted has the Esso logo on it.  Seems her father was an Esso dealer back in the day.  I am sure that fans and collectors of petroliana could point out more differences between the two pumpls besides the brand name, but to me they look like they might be of similar vintage.  We ran across this pump at Calvin Coolidge’s birthplace in Plymouth Notch, Vermont.  My father owned a service station in Ohio and was a Gulf dealer so, of course, I had to take a snap.
Here’s an aside about Coolidge.  An interesting thing to me about him is that before he became president, he was mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts, where my daughter Carrie lives and Calvin’s wife, Grace Anna Goodhue, who was a graduate of the University of Vermont, taught at the Clarke School for the Deaf that is located down the street from Carrie’s abode.

I know that the above is true but is this?

OOPS!  I forgot something.  As we were traveling down the road, we spied this sign:

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you may know that I fell in love with Scotland when we visited a few years back.  While we were there, we visited the Isle of Skye and I wanted to buy a Skye tartan scarf because I really, really liked it.  Well, long story short, I didn't buy it and have regretted it ever since.  When we spied this sign, Greg turned around and let me go in to look for my Skye tartan.  Now, I have it and it's beautiful!  Yay!

Thanks, Greg!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Ilovermont, Part 2…

My Grandpa Lambert worked for the Rutland Railroad in Alburgh, Vermont, about a five minute drive from the Canadian border.  That’s where my father was born and grew up.  So my ties to Vermont are actually blood ties.  I am not sure if that has anything to do with the fact that when I cross the border into Vermont, I tend to decompress and feel more peaceful internally.

This is a photo of my Grandpa's baseball team.  George is the adult sitting on the bottom step in the front on the right.
I come from a long line of baseball lovers, too.

Most likely, this has more to do with me feeling good about Vermont:  The largest city in Vermont is Burlington, which is located an hour due south of Alburgh.  It is a city of approximately 42, 000 people, which makes it about the same size as the city I grew up in – Middletown, Ohio – although Middletown does have a few more people.  Burlington is the most populous city in Vermont, while there are 17 cities larger than Middletown in Ohio.  That leaves room in Vermont for a lot of this:

...and this:

Of course, it doesn’t mean that these kind of scenes don’t exist in Ohio.  They do.  But in Vermont, it's that in between those rural scenes are just more of those rural scenes with picturesque little towns sprinkled around.  I love it!

  Now and then you see a sign that makes a human heart and a pug heart skip a beat.  It looks like this:

Our trip to Vermont this time was prompted by Greg finding a bed & breakfast in West Rutland, Vermont, called The Paw House Inn.  The Paw House caters to dogs and dog-people.  It’s a great place to stay if you love dogs and travel with a dog.

Olive the pug had a great time there as did we.  Unfortunately, I had a brain fart while there and neglected to take my camera down to breakfast so I have no photos of the Inn Dog, Stanley, a friendly, but serious little terrier mix who helped to greet us and make us feel right at home.  You can see a nice photo of Stanley sitting on a big yellow chair on the inn's website.  Click here.

  Stanley and Olive saw eye to eye and that was a good thing.  The seven other dogs who were there at the time were all bigger than pug-sized.  No matter.  They all got along fine.  Well, there were a few episodes of barking and showing off, but mostly there was a lot of face licking and butt sniffing going on. It was a peaceable kingdom of dogs.

I must have been in a haze each morning, because I got no pictures of the other dogs either.  My BAD!  What was I thinking?????  My only excuse is that I had to come downstairs and take Olive out before I had my coffee.  But I did manage a shot of the downstairs parlor with its doggie wallpaper.

Anyhow, it’s time to call it a day here.  Guess what?  I have a lot more photos of Vermont and hope to go through them more thoroughly soon.

 I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Good Vermont Fences...

On our recent trip to Vermont, we saw town fences...

and we saw country fences.

That is New York and the Adirondack Mountains in the distance.

But, those parts are blessedly free of city fences.

Linking up with The Run*A*Round Ranch's Good Fences!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Last week Greg, Olive the pug and I took a short break and drove up to Vermont.   When I say I love Vermont, it is a bit of an understatement.  Personally, I think Vermont might just be the most wonderful place on earth.  I’ve often fantasized about living up there, but I don’t suppose at this point in my life, it will ever happen.  Still, I feel lucky that we live only about three hours from one of the most beautiful places on earth – The Republic of Vermont.

What prompted our visit this time was that Greg heard about a bed and breakfast in West Rutland that caters to dogs and dog-people called The Paw House Inn.  We put the question to Olive and she decided that she wanted to check it out, too.  I’ll blog a little more about that later, but right now, I’m just going to post a few photos of our trip up north.

On our way, we stopped for lunch at a nice little roadside restaurant called Grandpa Joe's Fried Food somewhere in northern Massachusetts.  When we travel with Olive, we love finding places where we can eat outside.  At Grandpa Joe's, this little girl spied Olive and was pretty taken with her, but she wasn't allowed to come down and pet her.  Isn't she cute?

For the first time in my life, I had an Elvis Sandwich.  It consisted of grilled peanut butter and bananas.  It was pretty good, but I don't think I'll make a habit of it.

Once we were back on the road, we made it into Vermont pretty quickly.

And eventually, we ended up in West Rutland where Olive was royally greeted at The Paw House Inn.

One of the innkeeper Mitch's suggestions for dinner was a dog-friendly place on Lake Bomoseen called The Lake House Pub & Grill.  Olive was once again treated like royalty and was given many treats and pets.  I got myself a treat, too.

As the sun was setting over Lake Bomoseen, we headed for our temporary home.

And Olive enjoyed the bed that was put there just for her majesty.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Watercolor Before and Digital After...

One morning back in June, after I walked the dog and fixed my coffee, I sat down at my computer to read my email.  There was an email from a friend of mine, Debbie, inviting me (along with a bunch of other people) to join her in “an experimental, FUN, no pressure” watercolor class.  I thought about it for a while and looked at my calendar.  It was scheduled for four Wednesday evenings in July at 7 pm and I was free.  I emailed Deb back and said I had absolutely NO experience in watercolors and had probably not picked up a brush since I was a kid in grade school.  What did she think?  She said she was in the same boat.  So, sucker that I am, I signed up.

Well, I learned a few of things about watercolor through those classes.  I learned that watercolor is both very fun and very frustrating.  I also learned that I’m not a natural with a brush.  I think it would take a lot of work and a ton of lessons for me to get anywhere near proficient.  Of course, that’s the way life is, isn’t it?  Anything worth pursuing takes work.  Regardless of that, I did have fun and I did learn a few things and spent four pleasant evenings with a bunch of congenial women.

After I brought my work home and looked at it for a little while, it occurred to me that I might be able to improve the little devils if I messed with them a bit digitally.  So out came my trusty Nikon and I snapped them up.  Here are some of the befores and afters.

Here's a before.

And here's the after.  I just decided a forest would look better than three lone trees so I copied the original ,  flipped it over and layered it on top.

Here's the before.  I think I was trying to make kind of another forest scene here too.

But after I messed with it for a while, I decided it was really an abstract and it looked more like a bunch of women standing out in the rain.  So I call it "Rainy Day Women."

Our teacher Renee Malowitz, told us about using resists in watercolor like crayon, rubber cement and frisket.  I was a bit overwhelmed with this idea and the best I could come up with was this.

I looked at it for a while and decided it looked to me like a bunch of weird snakes shedding their skins.  So I found the quote:  "Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again."  And this is where it took me.

Renee also showed us how to do a black line drawing and fill it in with watercolor.  Here's my attempt at copying the flowers she brought in for us.

I thought the before looked a bit flat, so I added a little texture and framed it like the masterpiece that it isn't.

On our last day, we were supposed to do whatever popped into our heads using the techniques we were taught.  For some reason, I had feathers on my mind that day so I took a couple with me to copy.  Here's one of a crow feather I found in the yard.  I know it's not crow-colored, but I couldn't figure out how to do a black feather.

And here's what I decided to do with it.

And lastly, here's my pathetic attempt at a peacock feather.  It's like I completely forgot about the rule of thirds and everything.

But I kind of liked it after I was done messing with its pixels.

I suppose this is cheating.  But I don't care.  I had fun.  I might just do more of these.  Who knows?
  I might  just learn something.