The scanning of family photos that my husband made his winter project came to an end shortly before the remodeling of the man cave/media room began. Once all the photos were scanned, my husband brought up a packet of photos that I realized I had never seen before. It was several photos of he and our son taken in California when our son had joined him for a long weekend while he was on a two-week business trip.
The photos were of the two of them at Legoland. We had told our son when he was younger that if we were ever near a Legoland, we would take him there. I had originally thought we would find time to visit the one in Florida when we lived in the south, but things had never worked out. So here were photos taken when my son was 17 and his dad took him to Legoland, fulfilling a promise made a long time ago. While my son was too big for many of the rides, they still had a great time. They also weren’t the only father/older son there. Looking at the photos, I saw two happy people and realized that it was probably the last time the two of them were in a photo together.
We have gotten away from taking pictures together and use our phone most of the time to capture events in our life. Very few of those are of more than one person in the picture. And even fewer have my son as a part of them. While cell phones are great to capture a moment, we should pull out an actual camera to capture family times that we can look back on and remember everyone together. Time is too precious and there are too many memories left to make.
Okay, I have to admit that I have become a little obsessed with the eagle camera that is showing the Fort Myer, Florida bald eagle couple, Harriet and M15 and their little eaglet that hatched last weekend. Sadly, one of the eggs did not hatch and it is rather heartwarming to see Mom and Dad still taking care of the egg and their new baby. There are two cameras that record the coming and goings of the family 24 hours a day, even at night with the help of night vision. If you get a chance, stop in to watch the activity at the site here, which is hosted by the Dick Pritchett real estate company in Florida which has hosted the cameras for several years and have followed Harriet with her previous mate, Ozzie, who died in 2014.
It is something to see Harriet squawking at her mate, M15. Sometimes he listens and other times not. At times I find myself laughing because they seem like such a normal couple. It is also interesting to see these big predators feeding their little one. Both mom and dad bring fish to the nest to feed the little one. Sometimes the fish is still alive, so if you are someone who gets queasy easily, this might not be for you. It is nature and sometimes nature is not pretty. The cameras make you think the eagles are rather small, but the nest is about six feet across and the birds are about 2 feet tall, maybe more, so they are much larger than they look.
It has been such a stress reliever. Last week at work, during lunch, I clicked on the link and watched for a few minutes. It was just so relaxing. At night, I check in to see how big the little eaglet is getting.
There are several eagle cameras set up around the country. If you do a Google search for : Eagle Cam, you will find links to several others. There is one in Northern Florida where you will see Romeo and Juliet with their two eaglets that are just over two weeks old. The President and First Lady are the Washington, D.C. eagles that are getting their nest ready and will be laying their eggs in a few weeks. One click and I’m sure you will be hooked like I am.
You can find their links below:
Christmas is behind us and New Year’s will be here in a few days. Looking at our tree, it looks so sad with all the presents gone. I love looking at the lights, especially at night if we have a fire going in the fireplace, but we haven’t really been cold enough for a fire lately. We didn’t have any snow for Christmas this year and that has been the case since we moved to Maryland. Snow seems to come in little bits until February. That’s when we get a lot…should I mention last year and the 3 feet plus snow storm that we got in one day?
Our pug only managed to get one present out from under the tree. He somehow managed to sniff out one of his new squeaky toys from among all the wrapped gifts. It was cute to watch him stretch his little body under the tree. He kept his back feet on the carpet and used his front paws to bat the package closed and then he tugged the string holding it together. After all of that effort, my husband and I let him have his toy. There is something so precious when a dog gets a new squeaky toy. He is just so exited and happy. He wore himself out playing with it. I was worried he would try to find his other gifts, so we moved them up higher.
My husband also gave me one of the best gifts. It is a hook that attaches to the headrest of a vehicle. It holds my purse and that means it doesn’t get tossed around the backseat of the car when we are together. It also means that I don’t put it on the floorboard when it is wet. I can hook it behind the seat, his if he is driving, and I can reach for my phone or wallet. I never knew I needed it, but now that I have it, I wished I had it sooner.
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!!!
Growing up, our Christmas tree always went up on Thanksgiving. It was an absolute huge fake tree that had color coded branches that had to be put together in a certain order. It took hours, especially when the colors started fading, but the end result was a beautiful tree that visitors always thought was real. The decorating of the tree would take place throughout the day, in between cooking and eating and socializing. When I married, I told my husband of this tradition and while he didn’t understand the need to put the tree up on Thanksgiving, he humored me because he loved me. It also helped that he enjoys the holidays and making the house look festive. My mother always said that once we were settled into a place of our own, we could haul the huge tree in its huge box (think bigger than the biggest refrigerator box you’ve ever seen) to our home and carry on the tradition of the tree. When my husband saw the size of the box in my parents store-room he stated that he didn’t think we would ever have a place big enough for the tree and I whispered that it was fine because we could always start new traditions.
Our first tree was one that was maybe two feet tall and we put it on the middle of our coffee table. We chose some of the family ornaments that we had brought with us and gradually added new ones as well. Every Thanksgiving we decorated the tree while the turkey was in the oven. At the end of the day, we would turn the lights on the tree and everything seemed peaceful and calming. The only time our tree didn’t get put up on Thanksgiving was when my husband had been deployed on a peace keeping mission to Kosovo and actually returned home the day before Thanksgiving. We picked him up at 3:00 am and he spent most of the next 48 hours sleeping. I put up a few things while he was sleeping, but it has always been something that we have done together.
Decorating the outside of the house has always been his territory. He can see in his head what he wants to do with the decorations and while he will ask me my opinion, I really leave it up to him. The only thing I insist on is that the lights be multicolored. I am not a fan of lights being one color, so he goes along with me on that.When our son was young, he went all out, but as we have all gotten older, we have kept the outside simple, yet welcoming. One of my favorite holiday looks was the first year in our house in Kansas. We purchased real pine garland and outlined the front of the house with it and had the lights shining out from the branches. Large burgundy bows and a huge wreath completed the look.
One year my husband was off and I had to work, so he decided that he and our son would get the lights up outside early. When I pulled up, I noticed that our neighbor, who never seemed to get his outside lights up all the way, had actually put up lights. Lights that looked like ours. My husband was sitting on a stool in the garage with strings of lights laying in rows on the floor, testing bulbs because they wouldn’t come on. I noticed there were no lights on the house.
“What’s wrong with the lights?” I asked getting out of the car.
“They won’t come on. I’ve been checking the bulbs. But every time I find one, another goes out.”
Hmmm, I thought, that’s what happened last year and we had to buy new lights. I got into the garage and I noticed that the lights on the floor were the lights from last year. You know, the broken ones that we couldn’t fix so we had to buy new ones. I stepped back out of the garage and looked at our neighbors house. “So Robert put up lights too?” I asked.
My husband looked at me, “Yeah, we helped him. His didn’t work so I gave him our old set.”
“That’s why they look familiar.” I replied. I looked back at the strings of lights on the garage floor. “Do you remember last year, when you couldn’t get the lights to work?”
He grunted, “That seems like every year, but yes I remember. We had to go out and buy new ones.” He looked up at me looking over at the neighbors lights and the light bulb went off. “Son of a !@#$%!!!”
“Yeppers!” I replied walking back to my car. He began rolling up the broken lights before joining me in the car where we went to buy new holiday lights for the outside of the house.
“At least Robert won’t look like Grinch this year.” he said nodding to the lights.
As part of our decluttering and reorganizing the basement, we have started to tackle the many photo albums and loose photos that we have. The first thing I did was take all of them out of the musty smelling, old albums. My husband then started to sort them into family photos, his growing up, mine growing up and ours. And also those from before we got together, his military photos and my vacation photos. The goal is to sort through them. Eliminate the duplicates. Yes, there really are three photos of me in kindergarten. And then they will be scanned and saved on a thumb drive for viewing whenever we want.
Looking through my family photos, I was struck by how many of them were tied to food. One of the first photos of me was when my mom brought me home and she is holding me in her parent’s kitchen. For my first birthday, I was placed on the table and my birthday cake was in front of me. Clutched in my hand was a piece of cake. There are other photos of us outside in the summer, faces dripping with ice cream or snow cones. I remember that they were made by my mom, who would crush up the ice in the blender and add Kool-Aid to sweeten it up. Or we would make homemade popsicles in ice-cube trays. Other photos were taken at family events, but the one constant in many of the photos was the food.
I grew up in a large blended family. My father was married before and had four children. He then married my mom and had myself and my brother. Money was always tight, but I don’t ever remember being hungry. Sunday dinners would be a big roast, potatoes, some type of veggie and milk or Kool-Aid for the kids. Dessert would be something my mom made, be it cake or cookies or pudding. That roast would make an appearance several more times during the week as leftovers. One of my favorites was roast beef and gravy over bread. The bread would make the meat stretch for several meals. Wednesday really was spaghetti day in our house. Remember the commercials in the 1970’s about Wednesday being Prince spaghetti day?
We didn’t really eat out. A treat for us would be pizza or sliders from White Castle. Pizza night would be the first Friday of the month, which was also my dad’s payday. I remember my mom would order the Family Pizza from Cold Spot. It was always thin crust and always Italian sausage. I remember that the family size was huge and fit in the back of our station wagon. Pizza night was also the only time we got to drink soda. Mom would open a bottle of Pepsi and split it among us kids. Leftover pizza was reheated in the little toaster oven. We didn’t have microwaves back then. To this day, pizza doesn’t taste good to me unless it’s reheated in a toaster oven. If not, I’d rather eat it cold.
Another rare treat would be when we would get sliders from White Castle. I remember that my dad would get a bag of 30 sliders and some fries. Each of us kids would get 3 sliders and some fries. When I moved away, I missed those little burgers. In the south, they had Krystal, which were just like White Castle. I got used to eating them and when they built a White Castle near us in Tennessee, I couldn’t wait until they opened. Once they did, I went for my slider fix and promptly discovered that I liked Krystal’s better. Taste buds change I guess.
My family was also a part of the clean plate club. Whatever food my mom put on our plates, we had to eat. And it didn’t matter how long it took you to eat. I remember getting vegetable beef soup for lunch and eating everything but the mushy vegetables. My mom wouldn’t let me leave the table until I ate all of it. I also remember the gallon of milk and my glass being filled over and over again to get me to swallow the vegetables. To this day, I will not eat vegetable beef soup. It is also probably why I find myself not wanting to eat many vegetables and may be why I am lactose intolerant. And I know that it is what contributed to my continual fight with my weight for most of my life. But it is also why I always let my son stop eating when he wanted. He doesn’t know what the clean plate club is and that’s a good thing. I guess there was a lesson learned in there along the way.
When I went away to college, I remember my dad slipping me $20 for pizza whenever I came home for the weekend. He always whispered for me not to tell my mom. Since she never slipped me any money, I have a feeling she knew. There were plenty of pizza places around my school that sold it by the slice, so that $20 went along way back then.
The food pictures didn’t stop when I married. There are the photos of the cakes that I made for my son for his birthday. I remember the Thomas the Tank Engine cake took me 4 days to finish. We were living in Louisiana and it was so humid that I could only ice a little of the cake at a time. I kept having to put it in the refrigerator to keep from melting. I also remember the pain in my back and shoulders from being hunched over as I iced it. It turned out really well and the pain was forgotten. Of course, it all came back when he asked for the same cake the next year. But it was worth it to see how happy he was.
Over time, there were less photos. Or maybe the photos are different. When before we were recording our family as it was growing, we are grown. The photos we take now are mostly of our pug and of the places that we visit. Sometimes those places involve food, but mostly they remind us of the happy times we spend together.
I have been thinking about my dad a lot lately. He passed away in October of 2006 and he was a fan of Halloween. Halloween was always fun. I remember how our costumes would be homemade and when we were small, my dad would take us trick-or-treating. As we got older, we were trusted to go on our own with other kids in the neighborhood, but the one thing we had to do was check in at our house every half hour and be home at the time he set. If we were late, the punishment was no candy until he said we could have it. We were always on time. I remember the elderly couple that lived down the block who put out full size candy bars on a snack table on their porch with a note to “Take just one. We know where you live.” We always thought they were watching us from inside the house and they did know where we lived, so we only took one. There was another couple that would had out $1 bills to each child. Back then a dollar to a child was a lot of money, so everyone tried to get to their house first before they ran out of money and turned out their lights.
One of the things that I used to do with my dad was watch the old Abbott and Costello movies that used to air on one of the Chicago stations on Saturdays. As Halloween got closer, they would have a horror movie marathon and we would always watch the Abbott and Costello ones. They were Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, Meet the Invisible Man and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which is where they also met Dracula and the Wolfman. We also watched the Godzilla movies from Japan. You know the ones where the dialogue was dubbed and never matched the action on-screen. They were wonderful campy movies and a great time with my dad. On Halloween, my dad liked scaring the neighborhood kids. One year he grew a beard and dressed up like the Wolfman. He hid out on the porch and after the kids would ring the doorbell, he would start growling and rise up out of a chair and the kids would run away screaming.
Once I married my husband and our son was born, I looked forward to taking him trick-or-treating and introducing him to those classic movies. Our son was diagnosed with an allergy to nuts and nut products when he was very young, so we had to navigate Halloween candy in order for him not to get sick. In the beginning, it was easy to switch out his bag of candy with one that was safe for him to eat and he was none the wiser. Of course my husband and I would have a sugar fest with the candy that he originally brought home. When he was old enough to realize that we had been switching out his candy, he stopped going trick-or-treating because it really wasn’t fun for him. When I asked him what he wanted to do instead, he said he wanted scary movies and snack food, so I introduced him to Abbott and Costello and Godzilla and we would snack our way through the night.
Now that he is older, he still wants scary movies and snack food on Halloween. While his idea of scary movies and mine are different, he will humor me with Abbott and Costello and Godzilla (the originals, not the new ones). And I’ll show him pictures of his grandfather dressed up like the Wolfman and tell him how he used to scare the kids in the neighborhood. Good times.
We recently returned from our trip to the Poconos, specifically the area around Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The trip up was very pretty. I was surprised by how much further along the trees in Pennsylvania are in terms of turning colors for autumn than we are here in Maryland. We ran into a little glitch during the planning phase. The place that we originally planned to stay notified us about a month out that they had made an error in booking and we would only be able to stay one night with them and would have to move somewhere else. They seemed surprised when I asked for a refund and declined to stay one night with them. I informed them that I didn’t want to move somewhere else so I would not be staying with them at all. They finally agreed to a full refund and I went to our second choice, which was a Victorian Bed and Breakfast in the main historic area downtown.
We planned to arrive early enough to catch one of the train rides that would take us into the mountains to view the fall foliage. As we drove into town, we saw that there was a picnic area by the train station, so we decided to take our snacks and have a light lunch before the train ride. While my husband purchased the tickets, I went to scout out a spot for lunch. And immediately discovered that the area was swarming with bees. Not just a few, but hundreds of bees. They were everywhere. Even in the shade, which is rare as bees tend to like sunshine and not shade, but it didn’t matter to them. As for me, I am someone who if bitten, swells up a lot. Like major swelling. So I hurried back to my husband, who was noticing the bees around the ticket window as well. Lunch was eaten back in our car and we waited to board the train until they blew the five-minute warning whistle.
The ride into the mountains was very pretty. I left most of the picture-taking to my husband as he is taller and can hold the camera higher. We saw several roads that led to some of the areas around the mountain, so we decided to go back the next morning to check out some of the old tunnels that had been used to haul coal back in the 1800’s. After the train ride, we had some time before we could check into the B & B, so we drove out to find the monument to Jim Thorpe, which was in the other area of town.
Upon checking into the B & B, we were told to just go up to our room on the third floor and the owner would be up in a few minutes to go show us where everything was. Our room was the only one on the floor and we had a small terrace that had a nice view of the mountains. After a brief meeting with the owner, she gave us our keys and said that she would bring up our breakfast baked goods before she left for the day. After unpacking a few things, my husband and I decided to go explore the downtown area. There is a street that runs behind the building that we were staying with little shops and restaurants dotted among the houses. The surprising thing was that many of the shops were already closed for the day. Checking the hours, most were open from 11-4. We poked around those that were still open. My husband was looking for a little gift for his co-worker that would be picking up most of his work while he was gone. He didn’t find anything for her, but we did find a set of slate coasters that were made in Pennsylvania and were rather cute. We ended up back at the B & B and sat on the front porch for a while as we tried to decide where to go for dinner. We had passed several places, so we pulled out our phones and searched for recommendations. We ended up going to a little Asian restaurant down the street and it ended up being very good.
The next day we left after breakfast and found the roads that we had seen the day before from the train. We explored the tunnels and enjoyed the mist floating down from the mountain. We also explored the surrounding area in our search for the covered bridges that I had read about when researching the trip. We found both of them. One is still in use today and the other is located in a State Park. We planned on lunch at Roadies Restaurant and Bar, which is located at Penn’s Peak, which is a concert venue. The food was typical bar food, but was really good. It was the view that was the main feature. We ate lunch while bopping to music from the 80’s and relaxing with the view. If you are in the area, even if you just get to the parking lot, stop and take a look. You won’t be disappointed.
We made it back into town in time to tour a couple of the museums and shops. Before dinner we decided to take advantage of the little terrace outside our room, catch up on the news and read a little. After just a few minutes we started to hear a loud buzzing. Looking up we realized that it was a drone. Someone thought it would be a good idea to buzz the street. It kept going back and forth and was rather annoying so after flipping it off, we went back inside. After dinner, we found a shop that we knew would have the perfect gift for our son, the House of Jerky. We had a really nice time getting away and spending time together. There were some WTF moments, so I will write about those next time.