Friday, June 29, 2012

First Fishing Trip!

I spent the day yesterday with my very fun and funny twin granddaughters Tori and Brianna, who reminded me (again) when I picked them up that they are now SIX.  The adventure of the day was swimming and beaching by the lake at the Raymond B. Winter State Park, near Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania.
Here they are on one of the last days of kindergarten.  I think it was field day.
As I watched some fishermen across the lake having mostly no success, I was reminded of a recent fishing outing adventure that was shared with me.  The twins went to the Montour Preserve and later to another small pond at a relative's property and made their first attempt at fishing.

The way I heard the story told, it was quite a hullabaloo.  And, by the sounds of it, getting ready for the trip was most of the fun.

-There was the ceremonial outing the night before THE BIG TRIP to Wal-Mart to purchase two child sized fishing rods.

- Each girl was allowed to select one form of bait, which apparently took quite a while.  Doesn't Wal-mart have thousands of worms, lures, and other fish catchers?  They each found a pack of pretty colored, sparkly worms.  So girly.

- The sunscreen and sun hats were laid out ready to go with all the other equipment.  And chairs.  And drinks.  And snacks.

Here is the final tally:

TORI - for a long time was catching nothing.  In fact, she told her mother that "she wants to use her rod because hers doesn't work."  Eventually though, she caught one sunny.

Tori finally had success.  
BRIANNA - caught one sunny, one bass, and a mini cow bell.  Quite a successful haul, I'd say.

Brianna is one proud fisherwoman.
It seems that they had a great adventure, because they are begging to go again. I, for one, am relieved that they have inherited the family gene that loves fishing.   I'm sure there are whoppers out there, waiting to both be caught and told!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Books That Frustrate Me!

As some of you who have been following my blog for a while know, by mid-week I sometimes just seem to need to gripe a tiny little bit.  Things just build up, you know.  See this post if you don't know what I am referring to.

So today I am going to direct my venting in an atypical direction (for me, that is.)  In spite of the fact that I love love love to read, and will read just about anything, I need to complain a bit about some of the books and magazines I have that frustrate the heck out of me.

Here goes.  These are the publications that have me slightly miffed right now:

1.  Extreme Hotels (Tectum Publishers)

This book is a photographic collection of some of the most unusual places in the world to stay.  You can stay in an underwater lodge, in a wine barrel hotel, up in the Harbour Crane B & B, in a survival capsule hotel, or in the sewer pipe hotel, to list a few.  This book is fun reading, and the pictures fun to see.  What frustrates me is that so few of these hotels are in the United States, and therefore I most likely will never see nor stay in the vast majority of them.  And, anyone who knows me knows that I am always looking for unique accommodations in which to stay when I travel.  I'm putting that book back on the shelf for now.

2.  Beginning Google Blogger by Heather Wright-Porto

I bought this book because I am a beginning blogger (this is only my 66th post), and I was having a few troubles making my posts every now and then.  If I were more computer savvy I would probably not be having these difficulties, but I'm old.  I'm not of the generation that grew up with computers.  The computers I used in my college days took up half of the engineering building.  Anyway, this book claims to be "your complete resource on creating and managing a blog with Google Blogger."  I read the whole book, cover to cover, and it didn't even go near mentioning anything like the problems I've had.  Waste of $28.95?  Perhaps. May it rot on the end table.

3.  Short Styles magazine (Hairdo #47 Fall 2012)

I am getting a new haircut soon.  I need a new look.  So I purchased this magazine to page through and pick The One Perfect Haircut for me.  I always think that if I show the stylist the picture then I will look JUST LIKE THAT.  Who am I kidding?  The cover promises that these cuts will make you edgy, elegant, and even stunning.  Nah.  I may get a stylish new cut and even new color but it's still the same old me under it all.  This one's going in the trash.  Goodbye.

4.  Road Trip USA by Jamie Jensen

This book is an enticing collection of "cross-country adventures on America's two-lane highways."  The front and back covers open out into U.S. maps with colored route lines that you can select from.  For example, I can clearly see the Route 66 mapped out in a cranberry red color.  I Will Do That Drive, someday.  Just not soon enough.  And that's frustrating because we are not retired yet.  So I'm putting that book back on my shelf, but right in the front where I can keep looking at it and dreaming.

5.  Micato Safaris 2012-2013 Catalog

I should have never even looked at this catalog of elite African tours.  You see, I've always dreamed of going on an African safari, seeing the exotic animals in Kenya, Tanzania, and I would even be happy to add on a few extra days to jaunt on over to Zanzibar.  I had myself convinced that this would be our 2013 pull-out-all-the-stops trip.  I even justified it:  in 2013 my husband and I will celebrate our 35th anniversary, AND he will celebrate his 40th year of employment at the same place, the job he has held since the summer after his high school graduation.  

We should do a big one, don't you think?  The problem here is that when I added up all the trip expenses, it came to almost $40,000 for a 20 day trip.  I'm still recovering from that bullet.  Sadly, I will need to bury this catalog.  If I keep looking at it, I will keep yearning.  I'm not throwing it away though...

6.  Weber's Big Book of Grilling by Jamie Purviance and Sandra S. McRae

It's summertime, which always brings grilling to mind.  However, it never fails that when I have found a grilling recipe I want to make, and then purchase the ingredients, the temperature soars to an ungodly 95 degrees or so.  Who wants to make MORE heat on a hot day like that?  Just today, the weatherpeople are saying a heat spell is on its way again.  I'll be stayin' in the cool.  This book goes back on the shelf to keep my other cookbooks company. 

7.  New Treehouses of the World by Pete Nelson

This book was a gift from our wonderful neighbors, Bonnie and Paul, presented to us following our 30th anniversary trip in which the husband/lover/best friend and I stayed up in a luxury treehouse in Arkansas.  In their words, "to help you plan your next treetop vacation and remember your last one."  This book takes readers on an exciting tour of 35 international  treehouses.  I can look at this book for hours.  Seriously.  These treehouses are so amazing that my frustration is that I cannot narrow it down to ONE of them to travel to next and very few of them have toilets.  I keep getting this book out again and again, and then I sigh, and put it back on the shelf.  It's good to have dreams though, I'm sure.

I'm done being frustrated now.  Thank you for enjoying my little rant.
I wonder what's on my Kindle waiting to be read?  I guess I'll go have a look.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Let's Talk About Nik Wallenda

Nik Wallenda, member of the legendary tightrope-walking Wallenda family, fulfilled a lifelong dream on Friday night, June the 15th, when he became the first person to walk across Niagara Falls on a high wire.

I am not a news reporter, so why exactly am I writing about this dangerous feat of daring?  I'll be honest.  It is because I learned a new word in one of the accounts I read about it.  (I know it doesn't take much to charge me up.)

Funambulist = a tightrope walker

So technically Nik is a seventh generation funambulist.  

According to the reports, Nik walked over the water on a two inch line from the United States to Canada.  I didn't even think of this until I learned it in the article, but even a celebrity like Wallenda must think of his travel details.  He carried his passport in a protected pocket of his outfit, and was required to immediately present it to the authorities at the end of the stunt.

Nik Wallenda, a true daredevil
Nik gave some interviews prior to and after the adventure, and specifically talked a lot about the safety tether that ABC news required he have.  I would think that it would be comforting to have one.  However, I am obviously not a FUNAMBULIST because it is exactly the opposite, according to Nik.  Based on his vast experience and success with past tightrope walks, he claims that introducing a harness insinuates that fear should be present, which leads to overcompensation, which can ultimately lead to a fall.
I think you can see the tether behind him, if you look closely.
An amazing feat, done by an amazingly talented man.  I wonder how he will top this one?!

Me?  I'm gonna stay low to the ground.  I can hurt myself down here just fine, thank you very much.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Caleb's Tiny Gym

A blog that has fascinated me for several years now, is the tiny house blog.  I have been following the tiny house movement ever since I read an article in a newspaper about 3 years ago about a man who lives in a house that is only 120 square feet.  It challenges my mind to imagine ridding myself of all the stuff I have, and radically downsizing to fit into a tiny abode.  To think tiny.

Indent now.  To the topic of getting in shape.  (I know, that was a big leap, but I am going somewhere with this.)

My son Caleb has a tiny gym!  In his tiny bedroom!  Well actually his bedroom is a very average size bedroom, but when you put a queen-sized bed in the one end, a double closet at the end of the bed, and a large dresser and chest of drawers on the other side of the room, the floor area left is fairly limited.  And yet, he has managed to use the space he has and the workout equipment he purchased and has gotten himself into pretty darn good shape.

I'm giving you all a rare insiders' look into Caleb's room, I guess to impress upon myself mostly and encourage others that a person does not need a gym membership or even a lot of space to be able to get some exercise.

Let's look at how he has organized his room and how he uses the space.  If you look into his room from the hall, first you will see the pull-up bar he hangs on the door frame.  To the left inside the door is his bed and his closet.  To the right is the dresser and chest of drawers.

Pull-up bar installed
Here you see all of his equipment
His laptop and iPad are used to watch and follow exercise software.
Caleb has used the P-90X and P-90X2 programs.  They are intense 90 day workout plans that target all areas of the body and include cardio, yoga, and stretching workouts.  In addition he uses the Polar Fitness Trainer, an app/computer website used along with his heart rate monitor.  He has used an iPhone app called "Couch to 5K Trainer," an application that helps you prepare to run a 5K race.  Lastly, he has used the APFT, Army Physical Fitness Test training program, as he is preparing himself for a career in the army.
This is the actual area that is the "gym" floor.
I think perhaps Caleb has some of my grandfather Raymond in him.  My grandfather had a lifelong ritual of rising each morning in time to see the sun come up.  He would work out down in his small, dingy cellar - running laps, doing pull-ups and sit-ups, and other calisthenics.  Following his workout, he would study his weekly Sunday school lesson (he was a teacher for the adult class his entire adult life), and then shower, have breakfast, and leave for his 8:00 AM workday start.  He was quite a man, very self-motivated.

Caleb has uncommon willpower and determination.  I wish he could bottle this and share it with all of us.  He has transformed his body and has become very healthy and fit.  Not only does he now have muscles, but he practices a well-rounded fitness program and is also very heart-healthy.  You can judge his results for yourself:

Caleb before getting started
Caleb now
Hmmmm....    Maybe I'll go take a walk.  Or eat some celery.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Make or Break

Our weekend getaway spent camping in the Raymond B. Winter State Park, near Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, was all we could have hoped for:

A smooth set up in a great site.
     Our campsite was spacious, clean and forested, giving us patches of sunshine shining down through the trees, yet lots of shade.  The campsite location can certainly make or break the enjoyment of your weekend.

Hours spent in pleasant conversation, relaxing by the campfire.
     We brought along plenty of dry wood, so there was no "cheaping out" on the fires this time.  Little wind meant we didn't have to keep moving our chairs around the fire, either.  If you are a camper you know that wind can make or break a comfortable campfire session.

Manageable mosquitos.
     Armed with five cans of bug repellant and two citronella bucket candles, we were able to keep the skeeters at bay.  The quantity and persistence of bugs can make or break the sanity factor, for sure.

An afternoon nap in a shaded hammock.
     With a pillow.  With a good book.  Even with a blanket.  And, with no rain.  The chance of rain can make or break a good snooze in a hammock.

Pleasant wildlife.
     Birds, butterflies, squirrels, and chipmunks.  And hummingbirds - we love those!  But, no snakes (even though the warning poster about rattlesnakes is still there at the public restrooms), no skunks (amazing, when you consider this is a wooded area with the high potential for human food droppings), and no bears.
Banner at a neighboring campsite
However, we have seen bears in this campground on numerous trips in the past, and I'm sensing they are becoming a problem.

This trap was sitting in the campground near the ranger's entrance.
The type of wildlife appearing during a camping weekend can make or break our comfort level.

Delicious "camp" food.
     Smells of bacon wafting through the campground early in the morning, a cheese and crackers snack in the afternoon, and hot dogs made over the fire for dinner.  With mustard.  And onions.  Popsicles in the freezer for later.  Campground cooking does not have to be difficult.  Simple foods always work for us.  The menu can certainly make or break the adventure.

The reading of some good books.
     Actually I read 3 1/2 magazines, 2 USA Today newspapers, 1 travel catalog, and made a good start into a new book.  Having enough reading material along to challenge the mind can make or break a weekend anywhere.

Kids having fun.
     I enjoy watching nearby children riding bikes, playing, eating s'mores (real s'mores), and having good old fashioned camping fun.  Unfortunately, across the way from us, there were 5 unruly young children who cried and whined a lot and really needed a nap.  The sounds of children in a campground can make or break the weekend.

Perfect weather.
     High temperatures in the low 80's, sunny, no humidity.  Perfect.  We don't often get weekends like this one in central Pennsylvania.  We all know that the weather can most definitely make or break the camping adventure.

Camping companions.
     It is fun to camp with family members.  Or with friends you've known for years.  We enjoy having them camp in a nearby site, available to play games, give us their desserts share meals, and visit around the campfire.  However, my very best camping adventures happen with just me and my  husband/lover/best friend.  It was just the two of us this weekend.  I sure do love this guy.

Your camping buddy/buddies can most definitely make or break your experience.

All in all, it was a "perfect storm" of all the components required for a lovely weekend getaway.  I'm grateful for that.

Now, what's next?  (See below!)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ellie Is One!

WARNING!  Do not read any further, if you do not want to see and hear about the birthday extravaganza celebrating the cutest-in-the-whole-world grandbaby's first birthday.  Please be forewarned that this is a blog post from a totally smitten grandma, and will contain about a gazillion cute baby pictures.  I cannot help myself.  Nor can I believe she is already one year old.

Let's start at the beginning:

The Decor:   ladybug theme (all the invitations, decorations, the cake, Ellie's outfit, the colors)

The Birthday Outfit:  was custom created for little Ellie by Just Add A Bow, a small company that creates custom hair bows for little girls and is expanding into party outfits too.

The fancy pants
The Birthday Girl, in all her cuteness:

Ellie with mommy Lindsay

                                                        Ellie with Auntie Sarah
This is major cuteness
The Party Food:

The Birthday Cake:

Ellie's outfit is removed for her first cake encounter.
The Family and Friends of the Birthday Girl:

Ellie with Daddy and Great Grandma

There was a baby in that sling.
The Party Girl's Fun Gifts:

Happy Birthday, Ellie!  We love you!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Solving the Problems of the World

...is often accomplished by having a good old-fashioned neighborly porch sit, don't you think?

I recall doing this as a kid, sometimes for HOURS AND HOURS.  Summers were enjoyed OUTSIDE, with friends, from the minute the breakfast cereal was gone until the lightning bugs came out in the evening.

Do people still sit on their porches?  We do.  But no other porches in our neighborhood seem to have these gatherings.

Well, we had one of those the other night, and it was a pleasant few hours spent out there - catching up on each other's business,  catching up on other people's business, making fun of the silly-lookin' dogs that waddled by, and solving a few Problems Of The World.  They back up, you know, and somebody's gotta do something about it.

So the husband/lover/best friend (Bob) and I went out and sat down on the front porch, accompanied by a drink of our choice (a chocolate mint martini pour moi, because I missed celebrating National Martini Day on Monday) and a vitamin drink for Bob (his boring choice).  We had just returned from a fine dinner at Olive Garden, and it seemed to be a good time to "set a spell."

It wasn't long before our magnetic and lovely personalities porch began attracting the folks.  A pretty girl passed by, walking her tiny schnauza-poo sort of dog.  Faster than a speeding bullet, our son Caleb burst through the front door and yelled "Hey Jenni!"  Apparently he had just met this very girl several days ago while walking his dog.  Last I knew it, he was working on his computer in the way back of the house, yet somehow his internal sensors were saying "Alert!  Alert!  Pretty girl walking by!"

So the four of us chatted and visited and solved one or two Problems Of The World.  Meanwhile Caleb's weimaraner puppy watched the goings on through the door window.

Jenni's dog, Olive, has a "Napolean complex, " she tells us, and does not play well with others.  Caleb made it clear to me at the end of the evening that he is mighty saddened that Jenni is moving to New York City in a week.  She will be working at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  I wished her well and told her to work hard and find a cure, as one of my daughters has been fighting thyroid cancer for about 10 years now.  It breaks my heart.
Next Paul came by and sat a spell.  Paul is a tall, lanky, very funny neighbor who lives across the street.  Sometimes Paul's "filter" is not functioning and he says some pretty hilarious stuff.  Not tonight, though.  After meeting the pretty girl Jenni, and while Jenni and Caleb were having their own tete-a-tete on the end of the porch (I wonder what kind of problems they were solving?), Paul opened up about a very rough day he had just had.  That very morning he had placed his elderly and extremely ill father into a nursing home.  The entire previous day and evening had been spent in a frenzy of gathering records, accumulating financial papers, and filling out forms and applications.  We felt his concern, as Bob and I still have our 4 parents, and wonder what the future holds for them.

We all watch a gold Honda van park out front, and Bonnie and Ciel, Paul's wife and daughter, come over and join us on the porch.  We then learned some tidbits about the running of a Bed and Breakfast from Bonnie, who covered for the owners of a local Bed and Breakfast who were vacationing.  Did you realize that makeup STAINS those white towels?  Hotels all use white towels because you can bleach the heck out of them, hopefully removing stains.  Bonnie recalled washing one particular towel 5 cycles and still was unable to remove a stain.  That towel now goes up into the owners' quarters.  I'm glad we solved that World Problem.  I learned there is way more to running one of those establishments than what may appear.  What you don't discuss on the porch?!

Ciel had just come from ballet class and was dressed in traditional ballerina garb:  leotards and hair up in a bun, IN A NET.  We all debated the merits of placing a net over the bun or not (two of my daughters danced and were net-users), and we decided a real ballerina must use a net.  Another World Problem taken care of!

After a bit, Bob was recalling a funny happening which followed a recent fishing trip with Nevin, another neighbor up the street, when they stopped for ice cream cones.  When Nevin pulled the car door shut, his ice cream kerblobbed right off the cone, leaving him upset and Bob laughing like a hyena.  Bob was retelling how Barbara, Nevin's mate, said to Nevin, "What?  Are you six?  You're a grown man, you should have learned how to eat an ice cream cone by now."  

Lo and behold, wouldn't you know here comes Nevin and Barbara driving up the street, ice cream cones in hand.  Again, there was a kerblob.  And again, it was Nevin's cone.  We all had some good belly laughs about that one, as they and their adorable little one-year-old little girl came and joined our little porch party.  

"Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."
(Eleanor Roosevelt)

We covered a lot of topics there on the porch that evening:  ideas, plans, concerns, people, places, food, dogs, romances and so much more.  Do we have great minds, or just mini minds?  I don't know.  All I know is that a good time was had on the porch and a few of the Problems Of The World were solved. 

If you're ever in our neck of the woods, please come and "set a spell," we'd be glad to have you.