Friday, July 31, 2015

Out of the mouths of babes

Doesn't it seem like only yesterday Nicole was little like Liam? She is seven, will be eight in October and she is a big girl, now. Notice the red sunglasses hanging from her shirt.

She and I went to the Muny, which is an outdoor theater with live performances at dark. The St. Louis Municipal Opera is located in Forest Park where the 1904 World's Fair was held. There are 1,486 free seats, and on any given night during the summer, the 11,000 paid seat theater is filled to capacity.The Muny is the largest outdoor musical theatre in North America. It has produced and presented seven exciting Broadway-style musicals every summer since 1914. Many of the shows are ‘whole family friendly’ so everyone can enjoy great theatre under the stars! Generations of St. Louisans have been to the Muny. We may have sat in the very seats where my mom, Nicole's great grandma sat as a girl, who knows?

Nicole was thrilled to be watching Into the Woods. When Little Red stomped on the bad guy's foot, and said, "Take that!" Nicole cackled out loud, which caused everyone around us to turn around and laugh, too.

She didn't make it until intermission. We'd been swimming and having fun all day, and she was ready to conk out by 9:30, so we headed home. I'm telling you, one of these days she just might be on stage; she is a character.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Spirit of Adventure

You all know about "Wal-Mart People." Everyone has a story or two about a sight to behold inside a Wal-Mart store. Today we saw a sight outside, and we had to stop and say hello to Christine from Houston, Texas.

She has been widowed seven years, but prior to her husband's death, they travelled in a huge Winnebago. She said after he passed, she decided to sell the camper. When she opened the bathroom door, she couldn't eat for two days after cleaning the mess. So she bought this little treat for herself. She gets much better mileage than the 7 miles to the gallon they used to get in the Winnebago.

Her little myPod can be towed by a car because it is a lightweight camper built on a motorcycle frame. She has arthritis, so she likes to travel to warmer states. She is visiting someone locally, but has spent the summer in Akron, Ohio and travelled down the Eastern Seaboard. She sleeps where she wants, usually at Wal-Mart or other stores, or at friends' and relatives' homes. She loves meeting people.

Of course my honey had to peek inside. He discovered a bed, an air conditioner, computer, television. All operate on a rechargeable battery. I guess she was making a bathroom stop, because that's about the only thing that little self-contained camper didn't have.

Now, I ask you, if someone gave you one of these, would YOU take off in it to see America?  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A real live episode of COPS

I was writing when my honey went into the backyard. He flung the door open and said, "Come out here, you've got to see this!"
I figured he had another ripe Big Boy tomato he wanted to brag about, or perhaps he'd spotted the two baby bunnies that I had seen earlier.

So I didn't rush to the door. When he shouted again with urgency, I bolted out the door and saw almost two dozen police cars with flashing red lights lining our street, along with state police, the feds, bomb squad, detectives, and overhead helicopter news crews.
I stepped out on the front porch (in the open), and saw Bill shielding himself behind my car in the driveway watching a female police officer pointing her weapon across the street into a field.

We live on a four lane street. There are ten houses on our side of the street, and directly across is a once thriving truck farm, which is now pretty much an overgrown five acre plot with a farm house. Two elderly brothers, 85 & 90 years old still live there. They sit outside occasionally.
Along their property lies a chain link fence line and the interstate highway. Down on the corner there is a bank.

It's old news now; it happened last week. If you haven't figured it out, some 59 year old genius decided to rob the bank. He told the teller he had a bomb, dropped the package in the bank, and got away with $2,000. His getaway driver got away without him. As the robber ran toward the fence line to the highway, police swarmed in full force for the silent alarm, and the accomplice left his partner standing in a field.

Police officers had their automatic rifles trained across the street. Officers ran through brush and past out buildings and sheds with weapons. Then a police K9 unit arrived. The dog tracked the guy but lost his scent, then picked it up again down by the barn.

All NOT HEAVEN broke loose when the dog cornered the guy and he tried to fight off the dog. You know who won. The dog ripped the robber's neck and bit up his head. The guy was a bloody mess, laying on the ground right in front of us, surrounded by police officers who bandaged his exposed larynx and throat before the ambulance arrived.

After they hauled him away, the bomb squad suited up and scoured the field, came out with a package, probably the bank bag. What a fright! We live in a nice and quiet residential area, very low crime. This was unbelievable directly across the street.
My concern was for the farmers who had arrived home minutes before it all went down. The police questioned them and every neighbor. They were safe inside, and nobody could provide information.

The bank robber was hospitalized, and survived. What makes a 59 year old man do such a thing? 
Folks aren't safe anywhere, anymore. Be cautious, be aware.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Slowly I turn, step by step... some of you may not understand the Three Stooges reference

The day was gloomy, rainy and chilly at Niagara Falls. We had visited the Falls in the past and ridden the Maid of the Mist on the U.S. side. This time we observed.

Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States; more specifically, between the province of Ontario and the state of New York. They form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge.

From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Horseshoe Falls lie mostly on the Canadian side and the American Falls entirely on the American side, separated by Goat Island. The smaller Bridal Veil Falls are also located on the American side, separated from the other waterfalls by Luna Island. The international boundary line was originally drawn through Horseshoe Falls in 1819, but the boundary has long been in dispute due to natural erosion and construction

Niagara Falls were formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation (the last ice age), and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment en route to the Atlantic Ocean. While not exceptionally high, the Niagara Falls are very wide. More than six million cubic feet (168,000 m3) of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost four million cubic feet (110,000 m3) on average.Niagara Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America. It has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, provides 4.4 gigawatts of energy to the region, and a staggering 3,160 tons of water flow over the Falls every second. The Niagara Falls State Park is also the oldest state park in the United States.
Information from Wikkipedia

 Look at the power of that water, and do you see the seagull soaring through the mist?
 Below is a Horn Blower tour boat on the Canadian side. The tourists on the Canadian side are decked out in red rain coats, and the US visitors who ride Maid of the Mist wear blue raincoats. The boats go right up to the falls and of course everyone gets drenched. But oh, what an experience.
Note the bronze statue of Chief Clinton Rickard,
RO-WA-DA-GAH-RA-DEH  "Loud Voice" of the Tuscarora Beaver Clan.
 My sweetheart suggested I may be related.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Very Beautiful, indeed

What a surprise to discover a real castle as we drove through New England. I took this photo of the historic Winnekenni Castle in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The exterior survived a fire, but the interior was destroyed. It has been restored. The gorgeous grounds, lakes, ponds and castle today are used for recreational purposes and maintained by a conservation department.

1861, Dr. James R. Nichols, a chemist and agriculturist bought the Darling Farm, which sat on a hill overlooking Kenoza Lake to use for his experiments with chemical fertilizers. After a visit to England he was inspired by castles and convinced that the granite boulders found locally in the state on most farms, could be used as building materials. Construction of his castle began in 1873 and was completed two years later in 1875. He called the building Winnekenni Castle and the surrounding farm Winnekenni, an Algonquin Indian word for “Very Beautiful!”

Then we were off to New Hampshire to Hampton Beach where I dipped my toes in the Atlantic Ocean and left my footprints in the sand.

Bruce, my late friend's husband showed us around the beach town.

And of course the guys couldn't pass up the arcade. This is a picture within a picture. Can you see their reflection on the screen? 


We had a picnic on a rocky area of the beach, but because protected birds were nesting, we could not walk on the beach. I did find some interesting shells at low tide. There is so much rich history and natural beauty in New England.

The two day drive from the Midwest was indeed worth it. America the beautiful!



Sunday, July 19, 2015

We laughed, we cried, we sang, we played, we hugged...we had fun!

We went to visit my late best friend's family in New Hampshire. Sheila and I were next door neighbors and soldiers' wives in Alaska. Our friendship lasted 45 years. During that time, Bill became good friends with her husband, Bruce. I will post more pictures of him next time. We spent a few days at his lovely home, and then spent the weekend at the "camp." The little house in Bristol, New Hampshire was Sheila's parent's summer cottage. Her mother took the kids from Boston to Newfound Lake, and this is where Sheila and her siblings spent every summer. When her parents passed away, she and Bruce bought it, enlarged it and completely renovated it.
This lake is not far from Squam Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee. The movie, On Golden Pond was filmed on Squam Lake,  and Lake Winnipesaukee is gorgeous. I love that name! In the past we rode the mail boat out and gasped in awe at the many mini islands with homes built on them right in the lake. Unbelievable. How would you like to boat to and from your home?
The sun set on a wonderful vacation with gracious hosts, friends and our "adopted" grandchildren. 
It was hard to say good-bye to this gorgeous place. I swam in the lake, and sat on the dock, and talked to two of Sheila's daughter's Shannon and Erin. I spoke to Michele on the phone. I met four of the grandkids, and the girls prepared a delicious supper. We shared stories, photos, laughter, and tears.
This is not a duplicate. Jayden wanted in on the action of our sunset photo. He and Bill became good buddies.

Shannon, her dad, and his lady friend, took us to a general store that was built in the 1700's. The boys selected a big sour pickle from the old fashioned wooden pickle barrel. A step back in time.
This is the...well you know...out house. I didn't look to see if it was a one seater or two seater.
We also stopped at a thrift store. I was drawn to a shelf in the back room. It was as if I was compelled to go there. At eye-level was a white ceramic bell with the word "Alaska" on the front. Below in small script, I smiled when I read "BEST FRIENDS." Was it a message from my dear friend? I certainly believe so. 
Jayden was forever chasing Bill. Notice the book I am reading on the nightstand? Lisa Ricard Claro's romance, Love Built to Last.
Cameron is the nicest ten year old we have ever met. Such a polite, happy and friendly young man. We could have brought these two guys home with us!
Come back next time for more photos, and continue our journey with us. You'll want to know about the castle, Hampton Beach, the Holy Grail, and so much more.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Did I see that clearly?

We have been on vacation visiting friends who live in New England. After a day of travel on our way home, we stopped at a motel. We boarded the free trolley. I saw a tour bus with this on the side:

I had mixed feelings about that. Hmmm, a bit presumptuous to assume all seniors had cataracts, but if the window glass had magnification, that WOULD be helpful. But still, somehow it didn't seem nice.
Everywhere we went we saw references to cataracts. Probably some rich optometrist's way of advertising, I thought. Then I saw another sign: CATARACT CITY AHEAD.

I had no idea Niagara Falls,  NY is nicknamed the Cataract City, derived from the Latin word cararacta, which means "waterfall." Much like The Big Apple or Gateway City (St. Louis: gateway to the West.) The things you learn!

Monday, July 6, 2015

My life!

Pizza, fully loaded,
one large slice;
one soda,
cup filled twice.

I wanted ice cream,
but I was nice;
I didn't give in
to my other vice!

Now I am off to do some writing.
How about you?


Friday, July 3, 2015

How far would you go to offer comfort?

This week we had torrential rains. Nine inches overnight caused flash flooding, washed out roads, swept away cars, and flooded homes in a rural town about half hour away where my daughter lives. My granddaughter who lives near there, found her neighbor's uprooted Bradford pear tree in her front yard. Sadly, people and pets lost their lives.
My daughter has an in-home day care now in her new home. She called to say the lower level, day care area, was taking on water.  Luckily it was rainwater and not sewage or river water. She and her husband were up all night soaking it up and trying to salvage and prevent further damage. She was exhausted. So, I told her I would come help her with the four babies and a three year old yesterday.
We put baby Isabelle on Liam's lap because she was crying. He smiled at her. She wailed. He laughed out loud. She continued to cry. I said, "Love her." So he patted her.
When she wouldn't stop crying, he did what any big helper would do. He put HIS thumb in HER mouth to shush her.
What a boy!