Friday, February 28, 2014

Two roads diverged

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

    Were I traveling with Robert Frost he would approve of my highway and byway choices.  I found Pennsylvania charming with it's little roads all parting ways through wooded hills or old towns.  One such smaller road off of a smaller highway led me past a Pennsylvania vernacular house.  I'd been looking for such a house.

     I had noticed the term Pennsylvania vernacular  and liked the way it rolled off the tongue and sounded so educated.

    Next to that Pennsylvania vernacular house was a Pennsylvania vernacular barn.

     The intended destination on this side road was a covered bridge.  I'd noticed signs indicating others, but this one turned out to be a particularly attractive one.  A hunting dog barked at me as I got out to survey the bridge.  Felt like a fitting sound in this country.

     I'm staying in a delightful small cabin for a few days gathering my thoughts, sorting piles and circling destinations on my maps. If you were in the area and wished to stay here contact Steve Wenham at

     The sun draws lines in the snow.  Today I drove out of the snow line into Connellsville and realized that I'll be sad to see the end of the shine on the icy snow and the light between the trees. When I got back home I took a swing on the tire hanging in front of my cabin enjoying the light.

     Last night the clean winter air let the stars shine brighter.  The Big Dipper was closer and larger than I have ever seen it.  The scoop poured out the dark sky onto my cabin.  I came in to sit by the fire and plan.

      My plans are loosely conceived, the better to allow for the unexpected.  I'll end this post with photos of the reconstructed Fort Necessity just a few miles from my cabin.  I kind of remembered that my 5th great grand uncle fought there with George Washington as a drummer boy.  The park ranger had him on their list for this battle.

      Washington lost the battle in this hastily constructed structure of necessity and surrendered.  I appreciated the unplanned opportunity to visit this site.  (Many years after the battle George Washington returned and bought this meadow.  Most curious.)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Taking a Battery Break!

     I may not post many blogs for a few weeks while I get a replacement battery for my computer!  I will catch up on some older blogs later.  In the mean time, I can use my phone to post, but it is slower.

Friday, February 21, 2014


        Dairy farms in Wisconsin set me to thinking about work. 

     When I stopped for lunch in Dubuque, Iowa, I found a little cafe.  The only customer was an elderly gentleman who invited me to join him at his table.  He opened the conversation by saying that he was older than me. He explained that he had fought in World War II, joining the Navy the final year of the war.  He manned amphibious landing boats in the Pacific.  I realized that as he talked that he had dementia.  He asked me a number of times where I was from and when I would say "Washington", he would begin talking about his work during the war.  He trained for awhile along the coast catching his first boat out from Ilwaco on the Columbia River.

     If you had dementia, what work would you recall over and over?

     The red barns of Wisconsin hunkered on field stone foundations, the cleared fields and welcoming farmhouses bespoke of work.  Work of a lifetime.  

     Wisconsin quite took my heart with it's wintery beauty.  As I drove back roads I spotted an older farmer driving his antique-looking tractor pushing snow aside.  I wondered how often he paused in his chores and looked about at the work of his lifetime.  His home itself was a work of art.

     Recently I finally located my Swedish great grandparents.  They came from Sweden as farmers and likely were homesteaders in Pilot Mound, Iowa.  My grandfather remained a farmer all of his life.  Maybe this is why I am so enchanted with farms and loved working hard. 

      I drove across Illinois and Indiana all on two-lane farm roads.  Slowing to thirty five miles an hour with each little town reminded me that those stretches in between weren't so lonesome.

          Whizzing by on the Federal highways, one misses so much.  Today I passed hundreds of farms and had the time to be pleased by the unique qualities of the structures and had places to pull over and take photos.  Each of these farm buildings displayed a willingness on the farmer's part to construct a place that would last for years of a hardworking life.

Enough sides to challenge a mathematician!
Enough said!
Humor in the Heartland.
    I was lucky.  I had a job that I got to build.  I loved my work.  I suppose when I have dementia, I'll tell silly stories about kids over and over...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Final Post for New York.. Winter Travel

     I know that I have said this before, but traveling in the winter to big cities is just the best.  There are always some sunny or lightly cloudy "warm" days.  One of those days I walked across Central Park.

Runners Trail around the Lake

And ate a hot dog while sitting on the steps to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Love the mustard!
A winter museum is a place to wander slowly.  No jostling the crowds.

One can look at old favorites, as long as one likes.

George Washington

This painting was considered a scandal at first showing.  The artist, Singer,  had to repaint one strap so that it was not off the shoulder!  Would it have made any difference?

    With a little map I took the time at the museum cafe to mark the rooms that I wanted to visit.  The Met has huge collections.  One could not see them all even in one day.  In the summer I might not have found a table to sit to and organize my thoughts.  The visit produced a couple of finds in the rooms with knight's armor and in the collection of the art from Greece:

Elegant Detail on a Knight's Horse's Armor

Hinged Foot Armor

Henry VIII's Armor in His More Robust Years

Room from Pompeii

Vases that I have loved since Miss Anderson's High School History Class!
The day ended with a return to town to visit another VERY quiet place.  Can you guess where?

Great Art Deco Detail

Best Views from Up High
Nothing quite like New York

Guessed it yet?

Bye, Empire State Building and New York.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Rim Shop

    Do you have a Rim Shop on your block?  

  How about barber shops, corner groceries, restaurants and laundromats?  Shops, shops and shops.

      I took a walk around the block today.  I actually was confined to the block unless I was prepared to leap over the puddles swamping each corner. 

     No one knows me here.  I passed dozens of people. I was spoken to often.  There was an elderly lady grumbling about the sidewalks, a mom who greeted me smiling and a storekeeper salting the walk,. The latter simply addressed me as “beautiful” while we talked.  He noticed that I was taking photos and pointed out trees down the block that were snow covered earlier.  Friendly neighborhood.  On the subway home and walking the area, I am very much a minority.  Often I see only a couple of people who are not of color.  Yet, I feel so welcomed.  Here are a few photos of the neighborhood taken during the rain and snowstorm.

The building on the right is a primary school, hence the buses.
Every building has fire escapes.
Stage four snowstorm.


     I am staying in a densely populated neighborhood just north of Harlem with Maddie, an African American from Portugal.  She has helped put a face on New York’s evolving potential.  We discussed 9/11.  She has asthma from having been downtown when the towers crashed.  She hasn’t been able to bring herself to visit the site of the 9/11 Memorial.  One evening walking back from Battery Park, I came across the site and being one of the last ones allowed in for the day I took this photo of one of the pools marking a tower.  The site has a distinctive emotional impact.

     Maddie said that 9/11 changed New Yorkers, as did the Blackout in 2003 and the storm Sandy last year.  Her neighborhood is seeing renovations as people move away from the areas of downtown that experienced flooding last year.  Her neighborhood of Hamilton Heights has a wealth of housing options from old brownstones to large older elegant apartments.  Many have seen some rough times, but the area is a good one.

My block.

Side street.

     Maddie mentioned that the former Mayor pushed hard to rid the city of crime.  He added more cops and detectives in every neighborhood.  I love coming home late at night.  I always pass a couple of cops walking the beat on my block.  This sign is on my building.

     Signs deter unwanted activity.

     Maddie epitomizes the New Yorker who is there for her fellow Island inhabitants.  During Sandy she took coffee down to the flooded area, invited many people to come stay with her in her two bedroom apartment and share her food.

     New York has been good to her.  She came to visit a relative and stayed.  While a single mom she worked full time and earned her Bachelors Degree. She works directing health services in a hospital.  She raised her son well.  By almost a fluke she managed to get his name into a lottery for a school she happened to pass by two days before the enrollment deadline.  The school is the one in Harlem that has gotten so much attention for graduating students and sending them all to college.  Prince Charles visited the school and sat next to her son for a half an hour conversing.  Her son graduated top in his class and has a full ride scholarship to Boston College.  This is the American dream. 

    New York is working hard to reinvent herself once again.  One rim at a time.

The Lady Likes Dogs

      The Westminster Dog Show has been held in New York for 138 years.  The renovation of Madison Square Garden a few years ago eliminated enough space for all of dogs to be groomed prior to showing.  The solution has been to have a majority of the judging during the day done at the Piers 92 and 94.  The final judging is still done in the evenings at Madison Square Gardens. 
Border Terrier Judging at the Piers

     The work of preparing for this show is complicated.  Rolling out the Westminster purple carpets and unfolding the yellow and purple grooming partitions and running the wires for all of the blow dryers must take some hours.  Dog owners bring their own water for preparing the dogs. 

     My friend, Jackie, has bred dogs for years and has won at Westminster often.  She breeds bedlington terriers and basset hounds.  Here are just a few photos from the show:

Jackie during judging.
         An adoring look from one of Jackie's bedlingtons.  Sweetest dogs.

     Westminster at Madison Square Garden makes the event special.  Even the changes of box labels was interesting to watch.

    The judge was dressed in Westminster purple and diamonds!

 Who me?  I won!

 The Lady has welcomed the dogs.  After all many of them emigrated too!

 Heel dogs.