Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Psalm 127:1

Our congregation has started construction to add onto our existing church building. When the building was originally built a few years ago, two additional construction phases were planned for. This is the third and final phase, which will complete the structure.

It took a few months to make some changes to the plans and secure the building permits from the city. So on Sunday morning we were all excited to see that work had begun. Of course, demolition must come before construction, so this was the view that greeted us on Sunday. The whole congregation gathered outside with our shovels, after the morning worship service, for a picture of the official groundbreaking.

Tonight, when we arrived for our Wednesday evening Bible study, even more of the parking lot was demolished. The first picture, below, shows our front doors. As you can see, we can't use them, so must enter through a side door for the time being. Much of our parking has been eliminated, but we have a large unpaved area, north of the building, where we can park during the construction.

This congregation is such an inspiration to Dan and me. We've heard nothing but cooperative and positive words regarding this effort. And the prayers being offered up are encouraging and serve as a reminder that "unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." (Psalm 127:1)

50 Things About Me

This one's from Patty. Play along if you want.

1. Do you like blue cheese? No
2. Have you ever been to Yellowstone Park? No
3. Do you own a gun? No.
4. What are your favorite songs? One of my favorites is kind of an obscure song from years ago - Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) by Billy Joel.
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Yes
6. What do you think about hot dogs? Now and then I actually have a craving for one. But they are BEST when cooked on a stick over a camp fire.
7. Favorite Christmas song? Mary’s Boy Child
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Milk
9. Can you do push ups? I doubt it. Haven’t tried in awhile.
10. What was the name of your first pet? Taffy
11. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? The Alaskan ivory and sterling silver pin my husband gave me one Christmas.
12. Favorite hobby? Photography (And close contenders: writing, reading, digital scrapbooking)
13. Secret weapon to get the opposite sex? Homemade chocolate chip cookies
14. Do you have ADD? No.
15. What one trait do you hate about yourself? Weight
16. What's your middle name? Margaret (First name of my Mom; middle name of my granddaughter)
17. Name 3 thoughts you are thinking at this exact moment? I have a headache. I need to get a few more things done around the house before Dan gets home. Blogging takes up a lot of my time, but it's fun!
18. What did you buy yesterday? Lunch at Sweet Tomatoes with my friend, Pam
19. Favorite vegetable? It’s a toss up – red bell peppers, out-of-the-garden tomatoes or sweet corn
20. Current worry right now? Finding a new primary care physician (my insurance changed)
21. Current hate right now? Dealing with health insurance providers.
22. Favorite place to be? Anywhere with Sweetpea
23, What did you do to bring in the New Year? Kissed my husband.
24. Name three people who will complete this? Marci, ummmm, and hmmmm (I don’t know – but I do know that the only reason I’m doing this is to not let John down, since he named ME as one who would complete it!)
25. Believe in God? Without a doubt
26. Do you have an unusual skill? I learned my baking skill from my dad, who was a master baker. I’ve been thinking, lately, of making some real Danish pastry, like he taught me. Haven’t done it in years.
27. What shirt are you wearing? I’m “layered.” I have a white/light blue striped T-shirt under a red shirt, open in the front.
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Not really.
29. Can you whistle? Yes
30. Favorite color? I like a "dusty" seafoam green/blue
31. Would you be a pirate? No, but I love stories about them.
32. What songs do you sing in the shower? I’m more of a tub-bath person, and I don’t sing there.
33. Favorite girl's name. Clara
34. Favorite boy's name? This is a trick question – I have two sons!
35. What's in your pocket right now? Nothing.
36. What made you laugh last? A co-worker who, this morning, ran down the hall hollering, “Don’t talk to me now. I have to pee.” (I think she’d been stopped one too many times on her way to the restroom)
37. Best bed sheets as a child? I don’t remember. But my favorite blanket was a Canadian Hudson's Bay wool blanket.
38. Worst injury you've ever had? Dislocated shoulder (same one, twice). VERY painful.
39. Who is your loudest friend? Val (see #36 above)
40. Do you like where you live? Yes, but I’m open to other possibilities.
41. How many TV's do you have? One
42 . How many dogs do you own? None
43. What would you do if you hit a deer while driving? Dial Dan on my cell phone, and (in tears), say, “Dan, I just hit a deer. What do I do? Come help me! I NEED you!”
44. What is your favorite book? Too many contenders!
45. What is your favorite candy? Chocolate covered gummy bears (not easy to find, but worth the effort)
46. Favorite Sports Team? None
47. What were you doing at 12 am last night? Sleeping
48. What was the first thing that you thought of when you woke up this morning? “You are lying, but I love you for it.” OH, you want the rest of the story? That’s what I thought when Dan woke me up, at 5:45 a.m. with, “Time to get up, Beautiful.”
49. What songs do you want played at your funeral? I’ll Fly Away and Walking Alone at Eve.
50. Does someone have a crush on you? See #48. I think he does.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mom Overcomes!

My mom is making great strides (both literal and figurative) at getting back to her pre-fall condition and lifestyle. She does not remember much of what went on during her hospitalization, probably because of the potent drugs they were giving her to control the pain. I think that’s a good thing, because most of those experiences were painful and unpleasant.

Here’s a little summary of her current status:

• She is not in any pain.

• She is using a cane instead of a walker, except when she needs to carry more than an arm-load. Then the walker, which has a basket attached, comes in pretty handy. Next goal: no cane.

• While she was healing, her driver’s license expired. She recently got it renewed and is driving herself short distances now.

• The swelling in her foot has gone down so that she can now wear real shoes.

• She is doing her own laundry and housecleaning, and is in the midst of preparing for company. Her brother and sister-in-law, from Alaska, are due to arrive at her house later this week for a visit.

• Yesterday the visiting nurse prepared paperwork to terminate her home healthcare, because she has regained so much of her independence. (Way to go, Mom!)

• During her recovery, it was discovered that she is diabetic, so she is learning a new way of eating, and is testing her blood on a regular basis. It appears that she will be able to control it by diet, and not need any insulin injections.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Keeping it a Secret

Last night we went to dinner at the home of some good friends, Jim and Sally. Jim and Sally have done a lot of traveling in their years together, but have one destination that is their hands-down favorite, which explains why they've spent five vacations there. It just so happens that Dan and I are considering a trip there next year, ourselves, to celebrate our 40th anniversary. So, gracious people that they are, Jim and Sally invited us to their home for a typical meal from that region, and to share with us personal stories and information about traveling there. We came home, late last night, with a bag full of literature, stomachs full of delicious food, and heads full of dreams!

I'm keeping the destination a secret for now. After all, our hope is to go in the fall of 2009, and it is too soon to know whether our plans will all come together. I thought it might be fun, though, as we move forward in our preparations, to provide hints - vague ones, early on; and more definitive ones, later . Can you figure it out before I tell? I'll bring back a souvenir for the first person to leave a comment with the correct guess. [Close family and friends who have inside knowledge are disqualified. But maybe I'll bring you back a souvenir, anyway :-) ]

HINT #1: We will need airline reservations.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Spool of Copper Wire

My best school friend, Shelley, and I took all four years of our English/Literature classes together. One Friday our teacher, Mrs. Green, gave us a writing assignment that was due the next Monday. We were to write a creative short story, based upon some real incident - an incident that had a tragic side to it.

Immediately my mind went to an event that had been in the local news, two or three years earlier. It was the tragic story of a murder that had happened at the local garbage dump (the same one, on Thane Road, that I told about in THIS post).

The story was that a homeless man had taken up residence in a big shipping crate, there at the dump. He slept in the crate at night and spent his days rummaging through the debris for items of any value. He would then take his "treasures" to town (it was walking distance) and pawn them.

One day, another fellow showed up on the scene to see what he could salvage. One of the two men discovered a wooden spool of copper wire, which would have been worth a fair amount of money. A scuffle ensued over the rights to the spool, and it escalated into a fierce fight. The newcomer on the scene picked up a heavy object - it may have been a stone - and killed the man whose home was the shipping crate.

I went home and worked on the assignment, trying to recall the details of the news event, but embellishing the story with my own imaginative touches.

Monday morning, as usual, I walked downhill from my house to Shelley's. Shelley and I usually spent a half-hour or so at her house together before we left for school. That morning I remember asking Shelley what she had written for her short story. She told me her story was about something that had happened a couple years earlier . . . at the dump. NO, I thought. We couldn't have written about the very same thing! But we had.

All the way to school we talked about our predicament. Would our teacher think we had collaborated, or that one of us had copied the idea from the other one? It wasn't so! We hadn't discussed the assignment at all until that morning. We just knew that our grades would suffer.

Before the first bell rang, we went directly to Mrs. Green's class and found her there, alone. We spilled our tale of woe, pleading with her to believe that we had each come up with the theme of our assignment independently. Mrs. Green was a tough teacher, but she was also insightful and fair. She looked at our two short stories - vastly different in every way except for the event that they were both based upon. "Girls," Mrs. Green said, with a wry smile, "I'd never suspect either one of you of copying or cheating on an assignment. And I can tell by your creative stories that you each put in a lot of time and effort on them. Good work!"

Whew! Thanking her profusely, we left the classroom together, breathing a sigh of relief. And after the sigh, we looked at each other and broke into a chorus of giggles. Was it a gift or a curse - this strange ability we had, as inseparable best friends, to think, speak and write so much alike?

It's Been One Year

Do you notice anything different? Yes, in honor of my blog's one-year anniversary (which was yesterday), I've changed up the template a bit and gone with a fresher new color.

It's been a good year. I started out thinking this blog would just be a journal, but it has turned into more than that. I've documented memories of my childhood, my early married life, and my years as a young mother; I've remembered old friends, told stories about my children and husband, and bragged on my granddaughter. I've penned some devotional thoughts, indulged in some rants, and posted some of my photography. I may have had a purpose in mind when I began blogging, but, in the end, I think the blog took on a life of its own, and just towed me along with it.

Through this blog, I became reacquainted with old friends, and ultimately got together with a couple of them after many long years.

Thanks to each of you who has stopped by, however often, to read my ramblings. And a special thank you to each who has left a comment along the way. I love reading them, and find a lot of encouragement in the fact that you've taken a few moments to say "hi."

Here's to another year!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Good-bye Big John

Clara lost her great-grandpa, known to the family as Big John, on June 23. He was Kelsey's last living grandparent, and loved by everyone who knew him. Here's a scrapbook page I did some time ago of Clara with Big John.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

God Bless America vs The Macarena

Something has been nagging at me since Independence Day.

For those who read my Fourth of July blog, you'll remember that I went to the Balloon Park to watch the fireworks. I got there well ahead of the start of the fireworks show, so had time to relax and enjoy the last rays of sunshine. At one end of the huge field, a well-known band (Blood, Sweat and Tears) was performing. But at my end, some local talent was on a portable stage.

People were talking and snacking, children were running and playing - all in all, a very casual, informal crowd. One of the performers stood up and announced, "It's our nation's birthday! We can't let this day end without singing 'God Bless America.' Please, all of you join in and help us sing." When the performers started singing, I began to sing along, all be it in a rather quiet voice. And I started looking around. There were literally thousands of people within sight. Surely one or two were singing "God Bless America." No. The visiting, running, playing and snacking continued, but I didn't see even one other person singing, and very few even appeared to be aware of what was happening on stage.

"Well," I thought, "people are just a little shy about singing. Or maybe they just aren't paying attention to what is happening on stage." I gave them the benefit of the doubt . . . until, after the performers had finished their very fine rendition of that patriotic song, one of them announced, "Okay, everybody, it's time for the Macarena! Come on down to the front and up the stairs, and help us sing and dance! First come, first serve!"

At least a quarter of the crowd, within hearing distance of that small stage, were up, moving forward and queuing up to go on stage. After the stage was filled to capacity, the stage hands turned back the rest of the crowd. First come, first serve! And then, the music began. Not only the people on stage were singing and dancing the Macarena, but so were most of the people in the surrounding crowd.

So much for my "They're shy" theory. So much for my "Not paying attention" theory.

It was a hands down win- Macarena, 1; God Bless America, 0 - on the Fourth of July. Am I the only one who finds that a rather sad commentary?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pictures from the Drive Home

This is a typical view of the countryside surrounding Chama -- an abundance of green meadows, ideal for ranching.

Looking west, just south of Chama, on our way home.

This picture, and the two following, were taken at Echo Amphitheater, a naturally occurring amphitheater formed out of the sandstone cliffs, near Abiquiu, NM.

Camel Rock, on the Tesuque Pueblo, is between Espanola and Santa Fe, right on the highway. Across the road from it is Camel Rock Casino, also on Pueblo land.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

All Aboard!

For Dan’s birthday, this year, I arranged for us to drive up to Chama, NM, on Thursday morning, and to ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (narrow gauge, steam engine) on Friday.

We left Albuquerque around 11:00 a.m. on Thursday for the three-hour drive up to Chama. Neither of us had ever been in this part of the state, which is pretty close to the Colorado border. The portion of the trip from Espanola to Chama was really beautiful. We didn’t stop for pictures, but promised ourselves that we would do that on our way back down. Once we got to Chama, a town of 1200 people, we were so surprised at how green it was. It really seemed to be a thriving little town, with logging, ranching and the train apparently being their main sources income. Besides some motels within the city, there are numerous big lodges that cater mostly to hunters and fishermen.

Last winter was an especially heavy snow season for the Chama area. Depending on the part of town, they had between 9 and 14 feet of snow (more, of course, in the mountains). As a result, a number of buildings in town collapsed under the weight of the snow on their roofs. The only grocery store in town was one of those casualties. A new grocery store hasn’t yet been built, so the residents have to drive a minimum of an hour-and-a-half, each way, to purchase groceries. The fire station also collapsed, and the fire chief was killed in a related accident.

We checked into our cute little motel, the Vista del Rio Lodge, when we got to town, and then went to get some late lunch at a recommended cafe, called Cookin’ Books. It seemed like an odd name, but there was a book store inside the restaurant, which somewhat explained it. The food was really good -- nice sandwiches on homemade breads, soups, salads and desserts.

After eating, we went down to the train station. It was around 3:30 p.m., and one of the trains had already pulled in. Before I knew it, Dan had struck up a conversation with the engineer, a young man who grew up in Switzerland, and who inherited his love of steam engines from his father. I asked if he’d be the engineer on our trip, the next day, and he said he would not. We mentioned that we’d ridden another narrow gauge train (though not pulled by a steam engine) from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon, and he said he, too, had ridden it.
Around 3:45 another huge, black steam engine came chuffing into the station, blowing its whistle and puffing out huge billows of black smoke. We watched all of the travelers exit the cars, and heard lots of positive comments about the trip, making us all the more excited about our own trip, the next day.

Early the next morning we got up and got ready for our train trip. On the way to the station we stopped at an espresso shop, so Dan could get his early morning Americano. We arrived at the station quite early, but already there was a lot of activity. The train had been filled with coal and water, and was building up a head of steam. Passengers were already arriving and milling about at the station. Several volunteers were there to answer questions. Dan spent a few minutes talking to one of them, a man from Mississippi, who comes to Chama every summer to volunteer on the railroad. He would be riding our train with us later that morning.
We watched as they finished preparing the train for the trip. The conductor helped the engineer to back up the engine and couple it with the other cars. Then they moved the train forward a bit, with a lot of steam spewing from the wheels and, at 9:40, allowed us to board.

I had purchased tickets for the “parlor car,” which was the first class accommodation. Besides having individual chairs and tables, the parlor car had it’s own restroom and snack bar, with complimentary beverages and light snacks (muffins, biscotti and bagels). The lady who worked in that car was really nice, and a good conversationalist. On the trip north, we were the end car, which gave us some great photo ops of the rest of the train, as we went around curves. The car just in front of us was a platform car, where you could stand in the open air and enjoy the scenery.
At every opportunity - such as a railroad crossing, a park, or just a place to pull over on the road - cars were stopped and the people were standing outside, watching us pass and waving. It was really fun.
The scenery really was beautiful -- lots of sweeping vistas of the green valley floor, rivers and streams, and the mountains. The forested areas were mostly a mixture of aspens and spruce. One of the rivers we traveled beside for awhile was the Rio Los Pinos. Those of you who know our physical address will recognize that as the name of the street we live on. Interestingly, Rio Los Pinos -- River of the Pines -- is surrounded by spruce trees, but no pines! At Cumbres, which is the summit, the altitude was 10,015 feet.

Around 1:00 we pulled into the station at Osier, the half-way point on the full run of the Cumbres & Toltec, and our final destination, since we purchased the half trip. At Osier, we ate a wonderful lunch, which was included in the price of the train ticket. We could choose between a turkey dinner, a meatloaf dinner, or a soup/salad bar meal. All of the food was cooked fresh there, including the turkeys, which are roasted overnight for each day’s noon meal. Dan and I had the turkey dinner, and it really was delicious, more like a home cooked Thanksgiving meal than cafeteria food.

We had about an hour and fifteen minutes at Osier before we re-boarded the train. Instead of turning the train around, they just turned the engine around and brought it to the other end. So our car, which had been the last car going up, was the car right behind the engine, going back. Dan and I took advantage of this by standing on the small outside platform, directly behind the tender, during a good part of the return trip. It was the best view! There was a railing to hold onto. I thought it'd be scary, but it really wasn't. The train doesn't go too fast -- something like 13 miles per hour -- so there wasn't a lot of wind in our faces. Looking down on the tracks from the platform on the front of our car, and behind the engine.

We stopped at Cumbres Station to fill the tender with water.

Going downhill, the engineer released steam from the left side of the engine.

We pulled into the Chama station, on time, around 3:45 p.m. We were tired, so came back to our room to rest a bit before going to the High Country for dinner. It had come highly recommended, and we weren’t disappointed. We both had the New York strip dinner -- way too much food for me to finish off, but it was very good. Afterward, we drove north on the highway, paralleling the train tracks for a few miles. There was a light rain falling, but it didn’t take anything away from the beautiful scenery. In fact, it looked even greener because of the rain.

The next morning, Saturday, we would leave Chama, and return home, taking some pictures along the way. Those pictures and narrative will be a separate post.

My First 12 of 12

Please take a look at my day -- 12 pictures taken on the 12th of July. It's an internet project I'm joining in on. You can see my 12 of 12 HERE.

And, by the way, in the next day or so I'll be posting some pictures and narrative about a little 3-day get-away from which Dan and I just returned. I had it almost ready to publish, this afternoon, when Blogger appeared to "burp," and I lost all the pictures I'd posted, so I'll have to re-do it. Stay tuned! It was a great trip with lots of good pictures.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Nice to See You Again, Mr. P

Last week, to my great surprise, I ran across an Internet article with a picture of Mr. P. But could this really be the same Mr. P that I knew in high school? It was! The photo was of a gray-haired, 70-some-year-old man with very little in his aging appearance to remind me of the former, 30-year-old, curly-headed, fiery-spirited high school teacher I knew “back when.”

Mr. P taught me American History and U.S. Government, during the Vietnam War era. For two years I sat in his classes; listened to his far-left political arguments; marveled at his passion; relived his adventures while traveling in war-torn Palestine; and for the first time in my young life, became excited about current events and foreign affairs.

I knew, even then, that Mr. P’s political leanings were edgy and counter-culture. I knew that his arguments might not stand up against those of someone, on the other side of the issues, who was equally educated and equally persuasive. But, in a class full of na├»ve and malleable youngsters, he had no competition. His conviction, his charisma, his camaraderie with his students, made us easy targets.

My Mom and Dad must have wondered what had come over me. At dinner time, knowing that Dad would counter with a more conservative point of view, I would toss out one of Mr. P’s hot topics, parroting his leftist position as closely as I could. These dinner-time debates often became tense. I’m not sure I really understood what was motivating me, at the time, and I doubt that my dad did, either. But, in retrospect, I know that I was just pressing my dad for some ammunition against Mr. P’s leftist volleys – although the ammunition was internal ammo, because I never openly countered his views in class.

At the end of my two years under Mr. P’s tutelage, he presented all of us with a test. It was a test supplied by the American Civil Liberties Union, to see how closely aligned a person was with their philosophy. To my own surprise, I scored 90-some percent on that test! How had this happened?!

Mr. P left our school shortly thereafter. There were rumors, though I don’t know if they were true, that his departure wasn’t voluntary.

Once away from Mr. P’s influence, I had a rather speedy and easy trek back to a much more conservative belief system. I don’t think of those two years as a negative experience. No permanent harm was done, and Mr. P’s passion for politics and government woke me up from my previous total apathy about those subjects.

I was a devotee of Mr. P. Despite his political leanings, I admired him for his convictions and his passion. He had a wonderful talent of persuasion, and he was devoted to his students, taking a personal interest in our lives.

When I found the article on the Internet, I couldn't stop smiling. The article was about politics. He was being contrasted with another fellow, on the other side of the political fence. His physical appearance has changed greatly, but he still holds the same convictions. And he is still trying to persuade people that his way – the left way – is the right way.

Yes, it really was nice to see you, again, Mr. P!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dan

It was one year ago, yesterday, when Sherry and I threw the 110th birthday party for Dan and Keith. And, as of today, which is DAN’S BIRTHDAY, their cumulative age has grown to 112.

Here’s wishing you, Dan, a day full of happy moments and, for the year ahead, showers of great blessings.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Death Cookies

We went to a Greek cafe last Wednesday evening, before church. This particular little cafe opened recently, although the owner (he's Greek, of course) has operated, for a long time, some non-Greek delis around town. This cafe, though, must be his and his family's favorite. We've eaten there twice now, and each time it was as if we were invited guests at a family get-together. On Wednesday, for example, there must have been 12 or 15 family members there, some working, others sitting at tables and talking or eating. Greek music was playing, and we felt as if we were in a scene straight out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

So we ate our gyros, and then decided to try a dessert. Dan went with baklava, but I wanted to be adventurous. I talked with the owner about the selections he had in his display case. He recommended one made, of all things, from cream of wheat. He said it was his mother's own recipe and was "to die for." I asked about another tray of desserts. They were little round balls, and very white. He told me that his mother makes them for the shop, and that they are a citrus flavored cookie with LOTS of powdered sugar on the outside (called Kourabiethes). He said most people who eat them for the first time accidentally inhale the powdered sugar and have a choking fit. For that reason, he has nicknamed them "Death Cookies." I decided to pass on the Death Cookies, and try the dessert made from cream of wheat. I had to ask him to pronounce it several times (mostly because it sounded so beautiful, rolling off his tongue), but by the time I got home, I had forgotten the name again. I searched the Internet to find it: Galaktoboureko! (You have to go to the link and look at it. It's just a beautiful dessert. I notice this recipe uses semolina flour instead of cream of wheat, but it looks the same to me.) It was a custardy, lemon flavored dessert, with a top and bottom crust of phyllo. I had to agree, it was "to die for." I think I may have to try to make some, myself, sometime.

As we were savoring our baklava and galaktoboureko, the owner came to our table with a small plate of some of his Death Cookies. He wanted us to try them. Knowing their reputation, we were very careful not to inhale as we tasted. They were lovely cookies, sort of like a Mexican wedding cookie, but with a hint of citrus and a melt-in-the-mouth delicacy.

The food was good, but the warm hospitality is what won me over. I'm sure we'll be returning customers.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fourth of July

We had a very nice Independence Day, this year. It started out with an afternoon barbecue/picnic at some friends' home, and ended with a BANG! There were about 80 people at the picnic, and it was just a lazy, relaxing summer afternoon. We talked with friends, ate more food than we should have, and enjoyed watching the children have fun as only children can do.

A nice canopy for shade.

The barbecue chefs.

An abundance of good food and good friends.

A little guy tries his hand at croquet.

More croquet.

Chess -- a game that crosses the generations.

This little girl gave us an amazing performance, singing "Tomorrow" from Annie. I may be able to say, "I knew her when . . ."

And these girlfriends were just hanging out on the swing.

In the evening, I struck out on my own to the city fireworks show, which is held at the Balloon Fiesta Park. (Dan didn't care to go, and I was fine with that, since I knew I'd be glued to my camera the entire time anyway.) Knowing that traffic and parking would be a problem, I opted to take advantage of the Park 'n' Ride program sponsored by the city. A mere $1.00 per adult provided entrance into the park as well as bus transportation to and from.

The trip to the park was problem-free. I only waited about three or four minutes to get onto one of the comfortable air conditioned buses, and was at the park, picking out my space, in about a half hour. I was surprised at how many people were there. The park, which is the size of 54 football fields (78 acres), was just a sea of people, as far as the eye could see.

I got there well before the start of the fireworks. The sun was about to set, and the air was cool, with a light breeze. After the sun set, I saw a little sliver of a moon, toward the west.

The band, Blood, Sweat and Tears, were performing at the north end of the park, but I was not very close, so only heard the music drifting softly across the field. I got my camera set up on a tripod, made all the settings that I wanted to use for the evening, and spent an hour-and-a-half people-watching. It seemed every child had one type or another of those glow sticks, some in the shape of light sabers, others in rings or ropes. As the sky grew steadily darker, these glow sticks, spread across the acres, were a light show in themselves.

And then, what I had come for . . . the fireworks show! The pictures came out pretty good. Next time I might go for a slightly longer shutter speed, but this was my best fireworks photography to date, so I was pleased with my progress. I'll put a couple of them here, in this post; and additional ones can be seen HERE. (f8, ss 1 sec, ISO 100, manual focus at infinity, white balance = daylight)

Although the trip to the park went smoothly, the return trip was crazy. Since there had been activities going on all afternoon, people had arrived at the park at different times. But once the fireworks were over, everyone exited at once. I stood in line for a bus for almost an hour-and-a-half! It was 11:45 p.m. by the time I got home. Dan was still up, waiting for me, and wanting to see my pictures.

All in all, the day, for us, was spectacular . . . a fitting celebration for our nation's birthday.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Locked Out

My car has those chimes that warn me, when I open the door, if I’ve left the keys in the ignition. But there are no such chimes to warn me that I’ve left the keys lying on the passenger seat … which I did yesterday. At the very moment that I pushed the lock button and slammed the door shut, I realized my foolish mistake.

I tried reaching Dan on my cell phone. He should have been on his way home from work at that time, so it wouldn’t be too much out of his way to stop and unlock my car. But he had his cell phone turned off (dead battery, he told me later).

I waited until I thought he might be home, and then began calling our home phone. After a couple of unanswered calls, I left a message. It worked. He called me, a few minutes later, and said he’d be there soon.

Although there wasn’t anywhere to get inside, out of the sun, I was thankful that there was a place with some shade and a little bench; and thankful, too, for my knight in shining armor (or, more accurately, in his shining Ford Taurus), who came to my rescue.