Monthly Archives: June 2016

Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner

Ft McHenry

MD Star Spangled Platejpg





Over the weekend, my husband asked if I wanted to drive to Fort McHenry in Baltimore to visit the place where the Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. When we moved to Maryland, the state was celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812. There were many activities taking place in the Baltimore area and ships from around the world docked over the summer to commemorate the event. Even our license plates celebrated the event with a colorful array of fireworks and the flag. Two years later, in 2014, the celebrations began again to celebrate the end of the war.

We headed out early on Saturday while it was still cool outside and cloudy since they were calling for rain later in the afternoon. I made sure to bring a hat in case the sun came out and of course it did. First, I was surprised at how small the fort actually was. The photo above is from the National Parks Service and gives a good aerial view of the fort which is somewhat star-shaped.  When you look out over Baltimore Harbor, it seems small and very close to the fort. The area surrounding the fort has been well cared for and the grounds provide plenty of benches if you just want to sit and enjoy the view. Several times a day, the Park Rangers will lower and raise the flag, and if boy or girl scouts or military veterans are present, they will ask them to help. If you want to bring a picnic lunch, there is plenty of open space to do so. The Rangers also give tours and throughout the year special events are held at the fort. There were plenty of Park Rangers throughout the area and all were willing to answer questions that anyone might have. The one Park Ranger I didn’t see was Ranger Vince, who has become something of a local celebrity thanks to his quirky personality that comes through during his frequent appearances on local television. It was just announced that he will be leaving Fort McHenry after being promoted and taking a new position in Washington, D.C. Many visitors to the fort will be saddened by this news.

Nearby is the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House that tells the story of the woman who made the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the battle. The actual flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814 was flown again in 2014 for the 200th Anniversary. Touring both places can take as little as two hours or longer if you want to go at your own pace. If you are near Baltimore, you might want to stop and take a quick tour. The links below will give you more information.

Fort McHenry National Historic Monument

The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House



Happy Father’s Day


Wishing all a Wonderful Father’s Day!!!

Sun And Skin

ahhaDid you ever have one of those “Ah Ha Moments?” Working with cancer patients, you would think that we would be all about testing to make sure that we are healthy, but as with most of us, we would prefer to bury our heads in the sand and hope that the day never comes where we have to deal with cancer ourselves. At work last week, the hospital set up a table outside of the cafeteria where employees could see if their skin has been damaged by the sun. There was a machine on the table where you placed your face inside and the special lights showed where your face has damage from the sun. They also had brochures that tell your risk for sun damage based upon your hair color, eye color and whether you have freckles or not. And they were giving away free packs of sunscreen, so it was all good. Until you put your face into the machine. And that is when the “Ah Ha” turned into “Oh S@#t!!”

As I was waiting for my turn, I was listening to the nurse describe the damage of the people ahead of me. Several of the men work both inside and outside the buildings, so they were asked if they wear sunscreen when they are outside and none of them said they did when working. They admitted to using sunscreen when boating or fishing. The guy who was blond, had blue eyes and freckles was told that he was at the top of the list for damage from the sun. Listening, I realized that I had two out of three, those being blue eyes and freckles. My brown hair brought me down one notch. I am someone who burns easily and for the past several years, I have been on a medication that has a side effect that makes me susceptible to sun and heat. I turn very red and break out in a hive-like rash, so I limit my time in the sun and try to stay indoors when it is hot out.

I thought I’d be good to go. Nope. I put my face in the machine and she asked if I see the areas in purple around my face. Yes, I did. And then she said that those were the areas that were showing the damage from the sun. I was stunned. It showed areas of purple on my forehead, cheeks, nose, chin and area around my eyes. She said that I should wear a moisturizer with sunscreen every day. Later, reading over the brochures she gave us, I learned that most of the sun damage to our skin happens before age 20. I didn’t even vacation in Mexico until I was 25 and I went to the tanning salon for a week prior to my trip so I didn’t burn. That was the last time I went to a beach. Looking back at the pictures, I had a great tan, but now, years later, a machine showed what damage had been done up to this point. I also learned that if you work inside, if there is a window that lets sun in, you are still being exposed to sun and should protect yourself from exposure.

The good news is that it isn’t too late to start protecting your skin. I tried a sunscreen made specifically for the face, but after two days, my skin was drying out, so I will switch to a moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or 30. Any sunscreen that you choose should have Broad Spectrum in its name, which means it protects from UVA and UVB rays. I also bought a hat and I’m not a hat person, but if it means I’ll be protected a little more, I don’t care how goofy I look.

If you would like to learn more, you can visit one of the sites below. And if you don’t use a sunscreen everyday, it’s not too late to start.

Skin Cancer Foundation

Melanoma Awareness


Pray For Orlando

gay pride flag

#Pray For Orlando

And There Is Tartan–Shout Out To JP

As I searched for my family history, I mentioned in a previous post that one of my Great-grandfather’s x 5 was a Revolutionary War Patriot who immigrated from Scotland and fought on the side of the Colonies, North Carolina to be precise. Jean Paul replied that there must be tartan and he was right. After a search for the Clan Balfour, I learned that each tartan has what is considered the Ancient colors and the Modern Colors. I also learned that there were everyday tartans and ones used for hunting. So here are the tartans that represents the Balfour family:

Balfour Blue and the Balfour Clan Crest:







Hunting Tartan (Below)

Hunting Tartan










I know that there are many variations of the tartans, but these were the two that I came across most often in my research. It has been fun learning the history of my family came from.  And thank you JP, I have tartan and I am sure that there are other clans represented in my family. I will be looking for those as well. There are also castles, some of which still exist today.

National Cancer Survivor Month

The month of June is National Cancer Survivor month. For all who have fought the fight, this month celebrates you!


National Cancer Survivors Day

Choose Hope

American Cancer Society


roads bel travelled

Exploring open roads without breaking the bank


Lifestyle and Fun

Meg Kem Magic

Discover the magic of beauty!

Going Gently

Moments in life...


two guys making out & trying to make it

I Should Be Laughing

Moments in life...

Art By Yukari

Moments in life...

Just Joshin

Moments in life...