Saturday, August 27, 2005

Chicken Curve Ball.

Searching the clothes in the back of my closet I found never-worn clothes with the price tags still on them that I absolutely don’t remember buying. It must have been a long time ago because they had very small-sizes printed on the tags. I can almost date the clothes by the size. Now, what to do with those clothes, tell my husband about them or discard them quietly?

It reminds me of something my beloved late mother did many years ago, which I find terribly amusing and somehow I feel there is a lesson here. And this is really true. I got a call from my mom one day asking if I’d come up and help her get a chicken off of the roof (two-story house). I couldn’t believe my ears. “ A chicken on the roof, whose chicken?” She said, “It's a frozen chicken not a live one.” I remember thinking for a split second, did it fall from a plane? Then I said, "How in the world could a frozen chicken get on your roof?” “Well, I took a chicken out of the freezer to thaw for dinner and saw that it was freezer-burned. Dad has made such a stink about wasting food so I didn’t want him to know about it. So, I thought I’d pitch it into the field behind the house and let the coyotes eat it…..but I missed.” I started laughing pretty hard by that time. “Missed?" She said that she swung her arm as hard as she could and pitched it underhand but didn’t let go in time and it landed on the roof instead of out in the field. There is no way Dad wouldn’t see it up there in plain view and it would start smelling by the end of the day. There was slight panic in her voice as how would she explain this to Dad? I lived 40 miles away and I remember there was some reason I couldn’t go up there and told her to try to take a hose and wash it off the roof. This was quite a while ago and I don’t remember how she got it down but I remember a few years after my mom died, I asked Dad about that chicken. He didn’t know anything about that. She succeeded!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Coming Soon...

Coming soon to a yard near you.

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Winter has picked them every one

(lyrics by Pete Seeger with liberties)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Losing it

About 11:00 last night I opened the microwave to warm my coffee and there sitting on a plate was a hotdog, shriveled from being heated and sitting there all day.  I thought I had eaten it for lunch.  No wonder I got hungry by the middle of the afternoon.  I often eat my meals watching TV and as often as not, I don’t remember eating them.  I’ll look down at an empty plate and want to accuse someone of taking my food.  Darn, I didn’t even get to enjoy it.  My husband was walking by when I was removing this inedible, processed all-American treat and our eyes met and I said, “Hmm. I wonder how that happened.”  He said, “That happens all the time.  I’m always removing food or coffee out of the microwave that you have left there.”  Well, that’s scary.  The upside…if I forget enough I expect to lose some weight at the same time I’m losing my mind.    

Monday, August 22, 2005

Nature All Around (pics)

We took our daily walk in the Oil Creek State Park, the Petroleum Center area, Sunday. It is just so beautiful and quiet there. You meet very few people walking the trails. Often you are the only ones around. I'm not sure why that is because it is prettier than Presque Isle (in my opinion) and it doesn't have many more bothersome insects than Presque Isle, but take your deet. It is just a bit out of the way. Blue Herons fly up and down the canyon. Once we saw an eagle, often we see beavers, racoons, a baby porcupine, bluebirds and a mink.

Oil Creek
The creek is low now but still was beautiful. I'd like to inline skate the trail sometime. There are both paved and hiking trails.

Oil Creek
There were wild flowers everywhere and plenty of butterflies.

Oil Creek
One interesting thing I came across looking up at an old rusty railroad bridge were labels with sequential numbers on them on each and every railroad tie. My best guess is that it must be for inventory or for keeping track of their age (for replacement).

If you go, take your camera because there is always a photo op there.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Saturday Night Rainbow (pic)

A late evening rainbow. This was taken Saturday night at 8:11 PM. Somehow a ray of sun managed to escape the heavy cloud cover.


Fred Flinstone Feet

Background story.
I'm no shoe person, Imelda Marcos I'm not. I'm not sure why I lack that common trait in women, perhaps it is because no shoes fit my "Fred Flinstone" feet. My brother told me once that I had Fred Flinstone feet and since then I have realized it was true. To think all those years I was ignorant of that fact and showed off my feet barefoot and with sandals. Since then I only cared that my feet be hidden and that the shoes are comfortable in the process.

But The Reality Is
I had to find some shoes to go with an outfit I bought for the wedding I'm attending in California soon. I hate buying dress shoes, they hurt my feet. I tried on a pair at DW Shoes yesterday morning and I just couldn't believe it, I found a pair of high heels that don't hurt my feet! I walked back and forth on the carpet in front of the mirror and didn't trip and they were comfortable. I walked out of there all excited. I showed them off to my husband, he liked them. OH, the perfect shoe!!! Suddenly, I'm all excited about getting dressed up, something I always tried to avoid.

The Consequence
My husband and I was out at the mall yesterday evening for our daily walk and while "just looking" around in stores he'd end up finding me in the least likely spot, the shoe sections.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Behind the Mantel - Miss-Alla-Lone

"Miss Alla Lone" Puzzle piece from the 1920s
8 inches by 4 inches


There are still things behind the mantel that we can't reach. Someday we will open the area under the stairs and we'll have access to the back of the chimney area. We got these things out with a stick between some lathing strips when we removed the current mantel to refinish it. By the marks on the wall, we do not have the original mantel.
I'm am still amazed to think the little children playing with these puzzles, etc are now in their 80s.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Behind the Mantel-Shredded Wheat

More behind the mantel finds.


I'm glad my mother didn't try this one on me. Below is the transcribed recipe, circa 1920's.

One cup white stock, 1 cup milk, 4 level tablespoons flour, 4 level tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon white celery pepper, 2 cups cold chicken cut in cubes, 6 Shredded Wheat Biscuits. Put the stock and milk to heat. Blend butter and flour, add the hot milk, a little at a time, cook two minutes, add seasoning and chicken, and keep hot. With the bowl of a teaspoon, brush a cavity in the top of the Biscuit. Heat thoroughly in the oven and fill with mixture. Put back in oven five minutes, remove to warm platter, and pour over them the remaining mixture.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

People Watching

The Athletes and Not
You are always entertained when you go to Presque Isle. What a collection of people...and dogs. In the last couple of days that we've taken walks at Presque Isle I have seen some of the prettiest and ugliest dogs around. As far as people are concerned, some look like trained athletes as they run or bike by without breaking a sweat in their designer running and bicycling outfits. On the other end there are the waddlers, moving as if in slow-motion. Some of the waddlers pretend to be athletes by dressing like the athletes but the slow-motion action gives them away. The waddlers often have a dog to help pull them along. I find people watching fascinating.

Added Entertainment
You never know what you will come across when walking the beaches in the evenings. The other day we came across a photo shoot of a "want-to-be model" laying on the beach with some photographer with huge camera lenses instructing her how to pose. The setting sun was a good backdrop. A few hundred yards down the beach are several couples embraced, watching the sunset, stealing kisses. At the end of our walk, near the lighthouse, we came across a group of people doing yoga. Legs crossed, arms out, eyes closed. For heaven's sakes!!! Open your eyes!! One of the prettiest sunsets you'll ever see is going on in front of you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Solved Chipmunk Problem?

I got some advice from Toni (in a comment on a blog post) about chipmunks and it was you can't fight it. She feeds them corn and they seem to leave everything else alone. Not feeding them anything didn't make them go away so I went to the Wild Birds Unlimited in Village West on west 26th St. (my favorite store, bar none, I LOVE that store) and looked at different feeds. I saw the cracked corn and I knew I may have found something that would work for me and my chipmunks. They can have all they want, plant them in my garden and be happy and I'll only have to deal with the holes they make and not sprouting corn being the corn is in pieces. It has been a week and a half and I have busy, happy chipmunks and so far no sprouts. I'm crossing my fingers. Suddenly that little chipmunk looks cute again.

California Here I Come

Last Minute
In a couple of weeks I get to go to California for my nephew's wedding. I hadn't planned on going but changed my mind at the last minute. (Gee, why can't this happen in the winter when I'd really want to leave Erie.) In order to get there I have to take 3 different planes and over 8 hours of flight duration. But I won't complain because I love flying out of Erie. I've done the Cleveland thing and what a hassle that is (plus long-term parking costs). My car rental was a hundred dollars more than my plane ticket. Flying is still a bargain. I'm flying into Sacramento, renting a car, will spend a day or two with my Dad in the Sierra foothills and then I'll drive my dad down to the Los Angeles area (Yikes! That's an 8 hour car trip one way and gas is $3 a gallon there). The wedding is in the San Bernadino Mountains near Los Angeles at a lovely mountain ranch near a lake. I haven't seen all of my family at one time in years.

The Shopping Begin
Ok, it began a few days ago, the minute I hit that computer button that confirmed my airplane ticket. I bought a "mobile office" carry-on bag so I can bring my laptop with me. My backpack in the past has slowed me down. This bag has wheels (hurray!!) and I can run with it. One flight only has 30 minutes between the landing and take-off of the next leg and I know I'll be running a half mile to catch my connector. I have missed one in the past, you can't even stop to use the bathroom or "you're out!". Coming home I have a 3 1/2 hour layover, fun. But with my computer I can watch some DVDs while waiting or if they have hotspots with wifi I can blog,write emails and send pictures to my husband who I'm missing already and I haven't even left yet. I hope my battery will last. I'll bring my AC adapter with me as some airports have places to plug-in. Well, there are still shoes to buy to match the outfit I bought yesterday and some other necessities. I'm quickly running out of time.

Monday, August 15, 2005

My One and Only

We purchased and planted our two dwarf pear trees ($20 each) a year and a half ago when they had several baby-sized pears set on their thin limbs. After the transplant from container to ground all the little pears fell off. This spring we had blossoms on only one of our two dwarf pear trees. I thought all the blossoms shriveled up without even one pear setting on. A few days ago I noticed a green thing on the branch. Sure enough we have one growing pear. It is almost the size of the ones you see in the stores. At some point I'm going to pick it and I'm going to slice it into small pieces and share it with the other one and only in my life and we'll savor that long-awaited,$40 pear.

My One and Only

Friday, August 12, 2005

Garden Addition (pics)

Last Sunday we spent the afternoon buying and installing lattice on the side of the garage. In another post I had complained about the brightness of the white siding that distracted from the garden. We bolted 2x4x8's up on the side of the garage and screwed in the lattice. We put up 8-2ft panels 8 feet high. The higher the better was my thinking. It doesn't look right now because the boards are showing through (more than I thought they would.) I tied up the hollyhocks and tree mallows to the lattice. They are suppose to grow 8 ft high so they will eventually cover most of lattice. I want to hang colorful bird houses and garden art on the lattice. In the corner I want to move the bird feeder to cover the spot where the drainpipe comes down. It will take a few weeks to find the decorations I'd like for the lattice. In the mean time, here is the before and after and future (as best as I can do with ancient software).I would like river rock and bluestone around the garden. Scroll down to see the transition.

Before & After

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Enjoying Gettysburg, (pics, video clip)

Because the park is so large and requires driving it (or biking) to see all of the battlefields, it just isn't very crowded, even in the summer. People are spread out over thousands of acres. The only time it would be crowded is during the July 1, 2, 3rd battlefield reenactments. That is a huge celebration that I would love to see. I believe they put on demonstations every weekend during the summer. They aren't the big reenactments but they are interesting. Here is a really scaled-down video clip (no audio and it will start automatically) of them shooting their rifles. Click on picture for high speed connection.
Click here for dial-up connection.

We took the bus tour again and happened to get the same Park Guide that we had last time. I believe his name was James Tudor, Jr.


I was really happy about that because he has to be the best. He makes it so interesting and you can tell he really loves telling the stories. Then we drove the whole park with the History Channel's Gettysburg Expedition Guide.(apprx.$30)
You put the CD in and follow the signs on the road that takes you to all the points of interests and the CD explains what happened at each place. The one we bought also has a DVD with interesting info on it.

There is a stark contrast between inside the park and just outside the park. Inside the park it is quiet and people spend most of the time reading the monuments and taking pictures and looking over the countryside visualizing what it must have been like back in 1863.
You feel a sense of sadness at such a loss of life. These were our own people, they each thought what they were fighting for was just. It wasn't just about slavery, it was also about states rights, issues that didn't get cleared up back during the forming of our country.

Outside the park is a mini-circus. General Pickett's Buffet Pickett,
Rebel Yell Rebeland Yankee Hoorah Yankeeflavored ice-cream.

See Jennie Wade's house, Jennie
the only civilian killed in the Battle of Gettysburg and so on. Last time I was a bit put off by such things as this was a site of a terrible and sad battle. But this time I actually enjoyed walking down Old Town Gettysburg and sampling the ice cream.

There is a big push to try and keep a Casino and Spa from being built near the base of Culp's Hill. Casinos are going up everywhere in this country but big-time gambling, and the problems it brings with it, so close to such an important battlefield I think is worth opposing. You can sign the petition against the casino by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Erie Cemetery's Treasures

Yesterday evening we took a quick trip to the Erie Cemetery. The cemetery is so full of history. The names, the art work on the headstones and the styles will keep you interested for a long time. It is a beautiful place for a walk.

Beautiful Art Nouveau style. You can see the set designers for Lord of the Ring's Rivendale got their inspiration from the Art Nouveau style. Some mausoleums are creepy but this particular mausoleum is as enchanting as a fairy tale.

Stained Glass From Firch Mausoleum, Erie
Stained Glass in the above mausoleum. If you peer through many of the mausoleums you get a beautiful surprise and will see some of the finest stained-glass work around.

Strong Vincent Grave Marker
The under-celebrated hero from Erie.
Brig. Gen. Strong Vincent, hero of Gettysburg is buried in the Erie Cemetery. He doesn't have but a pretty common marker for his gravestone.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Teapot Mystery Solved

After finding out the manufacture date of 1927 and what kind of silver (hotel silver) the teapot was (see my last post,pics), I wanted to find out which hotel it was from.

How I solved the mystery.

1.) I started researching the coat of arms that is on the side. Deciding a good place to start was to Google for vintage postcards and articles of old hotels in Minnesota because that is where my grandmother lived her whole life and didn't travel that I knew of.

2.) After getting a large list of possibilities from the Google searches, I narrowed it down to the ones I thought she may have stayed at or known about. Also ones that were higher-class hotels that would have had silver tea services.

3.) Since it is a matching coat of arms that I'm looking for I found some websites that you can type in a name and it shows you the coat of arms for that name. These are for people's surnames. So all the hotels that had names that sounded like surnames I typed in and I found a very similar coat of arms when I put in "Lowry" (for the Hotel Lowry in St. Paul, MN), one of the hotels on my list. Then I started researching the Lowry name and found an Irish version of the coat of arms for "Lowry" that is an almost perfect match for the one on my teapot. I found it in a person's genealogy family website. Here is a picture of my teapot's coat of arms and the Lowry family's coat of arms. Mine also has the family motto, Virtus Semper Viridis which I found out means, Virtue is always flourishing. Mine doesn't have, Floreant Lauri that means, May the laurels flourish.


4.) On the bottom of my teapot was a name that had been removed by engraving lines over it. Before I started researching I thought I could make out part of a name with "way" at the end if you held it just right in the light. Now I think it is "wry" for Hotel Lowry.

5.) The number 27 in a box on the bottom of my teapot refers to 1927. Reading articles about the Hotel Lowry I found out it was built in 1927.

6.) I believe my grandmother bought it during an auction or sale because hotels would often remove their names from the silver before selling it off when replacing their silver settings with new ones.

Now the teapot has a personality. Just think, the likes of
Bing Crosby
Glenn Miller and Clyde McCoy
Charles Lindbergh
President Harry S. Truman
kidnapper Alvin "Creepy" Karris
Ed Sullivan
could have poured tea out of my teapot (OK, that's a stretch but it could be true.)

I'm thinking about buying a vintage postcard of the Hotel Lowry and keep it with the teapot. It was fun investigating and finding out the what,when, and wheres of it.

Some interesting facts I found out about this hotel. Credits of the excerpt: BY KARL J. KARLSON
Pioneer Press
_________________partial story._________
The hotel is named for businessman Horace Lowry, who owned it when it was built in
1927, according to Pioneer Press files.
It opened to extensive news media attention that made note of its marble stairway,
grand lobby and mezzanine. There was a private elevator to the 11th-floor rooms.
Six years later, the ballroom — still cited for its art-deco interior and exterior — was
Chefs at the hotel's Driftwood Restaurant made
rib-eye steaks a specialty, and big bands like
those of Glenn Miller and Clyde McCoy played at
the hotel's Terrace Restaurant and nightclub.
Over the years, the 350-room hotel had its
share of famous and infamous guests, whose
visits were often noted by the news media. The
visitors included aviator Charles Lindbergh,
singer and actor Bing Crosby, television host Ed
Sullivan, President Harry S. Truman and 1930s
kidnapper Alvin "Creepy" Karris.
In 1946, the hotel celebrated its 2 millionth
guest, a Canadian on his honeymoon. The
couple got a free stay.

According to the rest of the article the hotel had fallen into disrepair and had been shuttered up. A developer is now going the bring it back to its former elegance with a $34 million makeover.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Teapot, Hummingbirds, and Chipmunks

I searched the internet and finally had to become a member of a message board on silver to get any kind of answer about my. I got berated by the board's moderator for posting pictures on my webpage and linked to them instead of using their site with the 72 dpi rule. I thought it would save time and it didn't say anywhere in their 3 pages of rules on posting pictures that you couldn' I'm going back to that website, NOT. Someone must have saw the post before they yanked it "for misbehaving". I did get a one sentence reply from someone that my teapot looked to be "hotel silver". I hadn't heard that term before. I then took that term and searched and found some teapots similar to mine. The number in the box on the bottom of the teapot is the date. So, now I know it was made in 1927. Now I'm searching for the company that used that decorative logo on the front.

I put out a hummingbird feeder a few years in a row and never got any hummingbirds. I figured because we are surrounded by other houses that the hummers just couldn't spot it. A couple of days ago I spotted hummingbirds several times in my garden and on my potted nastertiums. Gee, all you have to do is plant the flowers and they will come.

What is more adorable than a chipmunk with his little chubby cheeks? They used to entertain me but now I've resorted to chasing chipmunks. I stopped feeding the birds because the chipmunk took all the seed. They nested in our front porch canopy over the winter that was stored in the garage and when we unrolled it, there was a softball-sized hole where they had chewed it to make a nest. They dug up many of my plants when I started my garden. I have been babying a beautiful blue flower and got it to bloom again and this morning I saw a chipmunk grab the flower bud with his paws and bend it down and eat it. The chipmunk constantly plants bird seed that they get from neighbors in my garden. I don't know if the plants growing are the wildflower seeds I planted or bird seed sprouting. Just say NO to chipmunks.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Antique Teapot (pics)

Before my mom passed away she gave to me a teapot that belonged to her mother. I love having that teapot and have always been curious about it. I thought it was pewter at first because of its color, then thought because it doesn't say sterling it may have been silver plate that just got worn off over the years. I've had it a long time now and took it out the other day to examine it. It looks very old and looks almost handmade with lots of hammer-like marks on it. I took some Tarn-x to the lid and it turned silver, the brite white color of coin silver. Yesterday I put Tarn-x on the rest of it and it sure doesn't look silver-plated as there is no corrosion anywhere. It is very heavy for its size. I want to find out if that is a family coat of arms or a company logo on the side, my grandma's family crest maybe? I'm going to do some research at the bookstores and library and see if I can figure it out on my own. Then I'll try one of those online appraisals and see what they say and to see if they are worth using. I know silver teapots are not worth much, I just would like to know the history. I'll blog the results when I get them. Here is my teapot before and after polishing.

Clean Sweep

I watch almost all of those DIY or home improvement shows. After watching a very successful transformation on the show "Clean Sweep", my enthusiasm sparked up. One look around our home office and I knew we needed a "clean sweep". It was difficult to let go. Even more difficult to keep and find places for everything I decided to keep. Before I "clean swept" it, I knew where everything was or at least in what area of the office it was in. About a week before we were to leave for Gettysburg I went to find the Gettysburg Driving Tour CD and booklet that we bought the last time we were there. "Oh, the pile of stuff on the desk where it used to be isn't there now. Now, where did I put it?" I remember debating if it should be with the books or with CDs. It was with neither and as time ran short for looking I actually was loosing sleep over this. I went through the attic, every folder, drawer and box in the office. I couldn't find it and we left for Gettysburg without tour instructions and had to buy another one. I felt awful. The whole point of clean sweeping is to be able to find everything. Beware of "clean sweeping". You'll be spending countless hours looking for things.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Campbells Pottery

My husband had Monday off and we drove around the countryside which is one of our favorite things to do. My dad used to take our family on Sunday afternoon drives when I was young so I guess those good memories are part of the reason I love doing it (and, of course, spending stress-free time with my husband). I thought my husband was randomly driving around but he pulled into Campbells Pottery and that was a pleasant surprise. I just go crazy in there, everything is so beautiful. The glass, pottery and craft items are exquisite. I'd love to have just about everything in that place. His stop wasn't cheap, though. I came out with a large mug, a Flambeaux art pottery dish and a strawberry solid-lotion bar to go in it. It is a great place to spend a few hours. I love and marvel that they have a cat lounging on the counter with all that expensive, breakable glass around. That must be one well-behaved cat.

No Backpacks or Large Bags

The sign greeting us on the door of the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitors Center read, "No Backpacks or Large Bags Allowed". Phew!, I left my backpack in the car. A woman at the doorway with several children and a friend was debating whether to enter. She had a large diaper bag. Her friend said she shouldn't enter but the woman said that was silly, it was more of a purse than a bag. Guilt-ridden they entered without consequence. The Electric Map presentation was held up at the last minute. We all waited, and waited. Then here comes a bus load of teenagers from what we think was Brazil. Their bus got there late. Here's the catch. Most were carrying large backpacks. So who exactly was the sign on the front doors for? Do they think the terrorists will stop at the sign and turn back? It only stops people that follow the rules and what good does that do, are those the ones you want not to enter? I wonder if the people in charge actually think those signs will deter any terror-inclined people. Without enforcement it is worse than no security at all, it becomes a joke.

Monday, August 01, 2005


We had a great 4 days in Gettysburg. This is my second time seeing it, the first being a very humbling experience. I went this time wanting to find the places where those first photos from 1863 were taken. I was only successful in a few and was distracted by so many things I had missed the first time there. Here is one of my photos of where the famous picture of the breasthworks at Devils Den was taken. The 1863 photo was taken to the left, closer and lower than where I took mine. The breastwork stones had disappeared over the years to souvenir seekers but have been replace and cemented in now. This was a "staged" photograph. The dead man was killed during the battle not far from there and dragged by the photographer to where he is laying. I can't believe someone would do that for the sake of a picture.

1863 picture - Library of Congress