Category Archives: art

Alice in Veggie-land

If you were to have been at SnakeMaster’s school on Friday, October 29th, you might have thought you’d fallen down the rabbit hole.

The 5th graders had just completed a Language Arts unit based on Alice in Wonderland, and the Harvest Day/Halloween celebration brought out all sorts of characters.

Click on the photos to embiggen and see the wonderful details these creative kids included!

Note the hookah. There were some pretty funny comments made by adults when out of earshot of children.


I wish I had taken a picture earlier in the day before this cat’s grin started to melt.

Bill the Lizard makes another appearance, times two.  The one on the left has a pepper for a tail. SM’s creation, on right, was modeled after his leopard gecko. Be kind about that tail. He created it, and he’s an innocent child.


The white rabbit began to yellow during the day, as the warmth of the room ripened the melon.

Hopefully Alice found her way home at the end of the day.

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TP: Yellow

After the Rally to Restore Sanity, we wandered over to the Hirshhorn Museum. This piece caught my eye with the bright white and yellow; just don’t ask me what it is called!

“Thematic Photographic” — hosted by Carmi –is a weekly themed photographic challenge. This week’s theme is YELLOW. A new theme will be announced on Thursday night.

Fun Monday


Hosted today by my friend Melli

Show me (or tell me about) that ONE item in your house that you would just LOVE to put in the next neighborhood yard sale – or take to the dump – but that for SOME reason you just “can’t”… and share the reason too!

fruit cornicopia vase/pitcher

gift from the heart

Some gifts are too precious to ever give away or throw away. This pitcher/vase was a Christmas gift from one of my sons. He bought it for me at a thrift shop (so SOMEONE had given it away) because he knew I liked pretty things. It has been on display for about 6 years now.

My own mother has kept a glazed dish on her dresser that holds tiny odds and ends, made by me in elementary school. The color is a lovely periwinkle, but the pottery itself is painful to look at unless you are a mother or the child who fashioned it with her own hands.

Thankful Thursday

Last week I received a package in the mail.

If you have ever ordered from Gary — and you really should, his pottery is wonderful! — you will recognize that I had a real treat opening the box. 🙂

2 cups and a creamer

These are what I ordered. It’s my early Mother’s Day gift. When I saw the glazing on these pieces over at Gary‘s blog, I couldn’t resist!

The lighting did not do this bowl justice. This is a gift for my friend ~T~ because she just had a birthday and because she is SnakeMaster’s “other mother.”  There’s a chocolate (or perhaps black) Lab puppy on the side of the bowl. ~T~ loves Labs! She has a house full of rescued Labs, plus a pretty awesome 4th grader (and his new turtle).

And then Gary also gave me this gift!

Laughing cow? Oh, yes…

A jumping over the moon cow mug, bespeckled in my favorite color: BLUE 😀

You rock, Gary!

I am thankful to be called your friend (and facebook cousin). 😀

NYC, day 3 (final edition)

We didn’t get quite as early of a start on this day, which was a good thing — after coming home so late the night before, we needed a bit of sleep! Plus we needed to check out of our digs:

Where we stayed on Staten Island

Since a ferry was just pulling out from the dock when we pulled into the parking lot, I finally had my chance to visit a special site near the St. George terminal. I hopped out of the car and scurried over to the memorial for the Staten Island residents who died in the attack on the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.

Postcards from heaven

When you walk between the 2 “postcards” you see the names and birthdates of those who died, the company each person worked for, along with the profile of many faces… so very many victims. I focused on a firefighter who shared my year of birth.

Please click to enlarge this picture. The name on the middle row of the left column has an additional name listed. This was a mother and her unborn son.

The memorial is positioned in such a way that the site of the towers is centered between the 2 “postcards” from heaven. I hope this memorial brings some small comfort to the families and loved ones who wish they could have one more day, one more hug, one more chance…

And so I entered New York City in a somber mood today.

Manhattan skyline

We walked through Battery Park toward Ground Zero.

I don’t have much to say about visiting here. While I knew it was no longer an empty hole, I wasn’t prepared for it to be a construction site. Still… it might have been just me, but it felt a bit somber, as though everyone working there remembers that day.

I wanted to visit the nearby church, but it was nearing noon on Good Friday and I didn’t want to interrupt any church services.

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A lot of things we did on day 3 were strange… different…
Next on the agenda was the Museum of Modern Art.

MoMA had a family-inappropriate exhibit happening on the 6th floor. Frankly, I think the “artist” is/was a bit crazy… the kind that gives modern art a reputation I cannot support. (Since when is self-mutilation and audience participation in harming the artist considered ART?) Luckily, there was plenty of other cool things on the other floors.

SuperDad makes art museums a fun adventure.

We sat in front of this piece for a long time. –>

So let’s play a little art museum game.

Click on this picture below to enlarge it and gaze at it for a little bit.

I’m curious if it has the same effect in photo form as it did in person.  Can you tell me which part of this large panel makes you feel hungry?  (Give your answer in the comment section.)

*I’m referring to the picture above, not the Andy Warhol soup cans!*

I’m rather fond of art deco, so this light sculpture made me smile –>

(It was only about 4 feet tall.)

Other things related to light were rather curious…

I was actually quite fond of this dining room chandelier.  It is called “Porca Miseria!” and it is a revolt against the slickness of contemporary design. Only 10 of these are made each year, and it takes 5 days for 4 builders to carefully break the dishes and then create the arrangement. I’d hate to dust it, but I thought it was pretty awesome.

(Please click on the photograph to enlarge it.)

On the other hand, I also thought this sign (below) was pretty awesome. I had noticed it and walked away, but then MusicMan saw it, laughed, and took a photograph. By then I was laughing, too, so I took a picture with my own camera. (You might need a quirky sense of humor to laugh about this one.)

Honeycomb vase

This vase made me think of Gordo and Gary… perhaps if they were one person? 😛

Cinema Redux: Vertigo

I think staring at this series of stills from “Vertigo” for too long will give me vertigo!

Ahhh… that’s more my style! I adore Monet (and a number of other impressionist-era artists).

Moving on outside and down the street…

Someone else’s kid. I didn’t even try to get mine to pose here.

You know the saying, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus“?  Well, here’s proof: We went to Mars for lunch!

When you start to wonder why you are paying so much for atmosphere (heh), it’s probably time to have a beer and just enjoy your stay.

Texting from Mars

And who knew? You can text message back to earth when you are visiting Mars!

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After transporting ourselves back to April 2, 2010, we hopped on the subway for a final ride and caught the orange ferry back to Staten Island.  It was time to go home.

Farewell, Manhattan!

Goodbye, Lady Liberty

We pack up our memories and drive them home with us — to be shared via conversation, scrapbook, and blog.

NYC, day 2

Thursday morning we were back for more bag-sniffing from the dog and a free ferry ride (because we are all about FREE).

Good Morning, Ma'am

Well, mostly free. Some things do cost money (besides the subway, known as the thing I forgot to photograph).

Radio City Music Hall is not one of those specific “must see” places for me in NYC, but since it is a famous spot, I took the picture. The place we had tickets for is right across the street, with an address made famous by a TV show I have never seen.

The show is called “30 Rock” and the address is 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The building is The Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center

The Swarovski "Joie" Crystal Chandelier

It also has a beautiful chandelier hanging in the lobby that is rather interesting when seen from the lower level.  It is made of 14,000 crystals, is 10.6 m in length and weights 2.3 tons. It stretches over 3 floors in height. Swarovski Crystal has an impressive shop (pardon me… “boutique”) at the basement level. My family did not let me walk slowly through there.  (They must think I’m distracted by shiny things.)

Please click on images to enlarge.

We already had our tickets, and even though we arrived earlier than the stated time, we were allowed to begin our tour.

After learning about the visionary Mr. Rockefeller and having our picture taken…

… ~~~ … ~~~ …

See this familiar famous photo?

Well, here’s us:


And then an elevator whisked us up to the Top of the Rock.

Views from Top of the Rock

And here is where I had my meltdown.

Vacation is hard work, folks.
Here is a little advice:

It is best to smile for the camera.
It is best if only one person has a meltdown at a time.

Turns out it is also best if the family photographer is given a little respect… and then given some space.

“All I wanted” was a family picture in front of the Empire State Building.  You know, THIS

But without the crying 10-year-old.  (Don’t believe me? Click on the picture to embiggen.)
He complained that the light was in his eyes. I hissed that it had been cloudy for the past 10 minutes when I had been trying to get everyone together for the damn picture.  Yes, literally — it took TEN MINUTES to round everyone up for a picture in front of the Empire State Building.
By the time I was done giving them all a piece of my mind (a piece that I probably shouldn’t have given away, because really? I’m not doing so great at remembering things these days), I was in no mood at all to have someone else take a picture of the 6 of us.

Don’t go off and cry in a corner when on the observation deck of a tall building. I’m pretty sure the security chatter was about the unstable person in the corner who might have been a “jumper” risk.  I wasn’t and I’m not. For starters, I couldn’t have climbed that glass wall. Then there’s the part about me being rather uneasy about unguarded heights. And finally, I’m fond of living.  But they didn’t know that.  MusicMan finally came over and gave me a hug.  He’s a compassionate guy.

Before we left the building, SuperDad did purchase the family picture of us all sitting on the fake beam (I posted it because we paid $30 for that picture). He obviously was placating me and I appreciate it.  I’m sure I didn’t deserve it after losing my temper.

And then we got coffee — because coffee often makes everything better — (the younger boys had hot cocoa), made a bathroom stop, and went outside.

Outside Rockefeller Center

Well.  [clears throat, changes subject]

After an experience like that, I needed to spend a little time in church. Luckily, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is just around the corner.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Of course, being New York City, we had to dodge taxi cabs to get across the street.

I’m not Catholic, so the raised fancy pulpit is a different sight for me.  Our visit occurred during Holy Week (Maundy Thursday, to be specific) and the organist was practicing a bit and showing off those pipes.  The Pieta was impressive, though not nearly as moving as the incredible Pieta at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.


But let’s move on, shall we?  There’s plenty more to see.

The menfolk got sticker shock (and some smelly new fragrance on a card) in Saks Fifth Avenue.  I kept suggesting that they should NOT touch every single $3,000 item they could find.  It was embarrassing enough that I did not take any pictures there.  But at least they washed their hands.

NYC Public Library Lion

sign over doorway inside NYC Public Library

ceiling of a library reading room

We love libraries

After resisting the urge to stay put in one of those reading rooms, we trekked over to Grand Central Station for lunch in the lower level.  The ceiling of the main lobby is known for the constellations painted on it, but I wasn’t very impressed, so I didn’t take any pictures inside.  I did, however, have a delicious dish of Lo Mein, in honor of our future afternoon activities.

Oh, yes! We are only half-done with our day. We still need to walk past the Empire State Building, the flatiron building (no picture), and find a subway to take us to another part of Manhattan. Like I said, vacationing is hard work.  But nowhere near as hard as life was for immigrants to NYC…

Sadly this museum was closed.

We headed on into Chinatown to get some delicious ice cream: ginger, lychee, and black sesame, just to name a few flavors. It was delicious! I now want a recipe for ginger ice cream. YUM!!

Columbus Park

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street! 😛

Every fire truck we saw had a list of fallen firefighters from September 11, 2001.

Please click to enlarge this picture.

After more walking that took us through Little Italy, we made our way up to New York University and Washington Square Park… where I collapsed on a bench and begged my husband to rub my feet. Which he did. At least one kid fell asleep on the cement bench. The rest of us did quite a bit of people -watching. We were there for at least an hour.

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park

We were also ahead of schedule (which included “avoid a gang war”) and we needed to re-think the remainder of the day.
My feet still hurt, but they were no longer on strike. We checked our map, found a subway station and rode back to Times Square. Next stop, Toys’R’Us…

I was disappointed to learn that they charged to ride the indoor Ferris Wheel. The line to buy tickets was long and there weren’t many tickets left for the evening. I think SnakeMaster was disappointed, too, but he’s a trooper and said he didn’t mind. He did think the dinosaur was pretty cool; the 2-story Barbie house was not his favorite. 😛

And look! Gary‘s pal Georges Le Soq has friends who hang out in New York City!

We found a place to buy some New York style pizza (which was delicious) and waited for appropriate darkness outside. It was quite a sight to walk back to Times Square!

Then it was back to the ferry and “home” for the night.

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Day 3 still to come…

Playing catch-up: a Friday 5

By being all smart and time-conscious, I took a little time on Monday to write and schedule my posts for this week… and then discovered that I was missing out on some fun things!
So today I will stop and give you a Friday 5:

1. My umbrella (which was all the rage to discuss and view on Monday)

Irises, by Vincent Van Gogh

2. Although we spent the night with thunderstorms rolling through the area, it has mostly been a warm and sunny week — so warm that we sleep with the windows open. I absolutely love the fresh 2am breezes blowing through the room.  However, my week of headaches, nausea and dizziness that has magically disappeared this morning may be related to all of the pollen and allergens that were highly present until washed away last night. (I woke up feeling great today!)

3. We have a mockingbird with insomnia. I was in giggling hysterics the other night during its midnight concerto, which typically lasts about 2 hours.  Hey, it’s either laugh or cry — that bird is LOUD. I was tired enough to fall asleep before the end of its repertoire. We’ve been known to be kept awake during the entire concert then fade off to sleep…  only to be awoken by normal birds singing in the dawn.  Still, I’m grateful: we once had a resident mockingbird that had spent time under the tutelage of a car alarm.

4. The stinkbugs have decided that the weather is pleasant enough outside to leave the warmth and safety of our house — or at least their hiding places. I thought last fall was bad, but we are sending them to Davy Jones’ locker by the dozens this week.

5. Five pictures from our trip to NYC

the show we saw

(click on photographs to enlarge)
Yes, I know I need to write a post about the trip!

Tree of Desire

**Image found at http://www.hollyhilldaylilies.com**

I recently read about bottle trees over at Doves Today.  I am tempted to make one, but for now I will have to satisfy myself with these images of beautyGo ahead and click away — I’ll still be here when you return to comment. 🙂

SuperDad thinks I might be loony.

The remainder of this weekend will be all about getting ready for the start of the school year (Tuesday is the day!) and hopefully creating some adventures for Ella.

Here’s what’s on my mind…

Open Secrets

Words by Neil Peart
music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson
from the HOLD YOUR FIRE cd

It went right by me --
At the time it went over my head
I was looking out the window
I should have looked
At your face instead

It went right by me --
Just another wall
There should have been a moment
When we let our barriers fall
I never meant
What you’re thinking --
That is not what I meant at all...

Well I guess we all
Have these feelings
We can’t leave unreconciled
Some of them burned on our ceilings
Some of them learned as a child

The things that we’re concealing
Will never let us grow
Time will do it’s healing
You’ve got to let it go

Closed for my protection --
Open to your scorn
Between these two directions
My heart is sometimes torn

I lie awake with my secrets
Spinning around my head
Something that somehow
Escaped me --
Something you shouldn’t have said
I was looking out the window
I should have looked
At your face instead...

I find no absolution
In my rational point of view
Maybe some things are instinctive
But there’s one thing you could do
You could try to understand me --
I could try to understand you...

Gimme a “P”… Gimme an “A”

What do you do when you’ve canceled your reservations for a NYC spring break trip? For us, that meant 2 days of day trips into Washington, D.C. and then 2 days in Pennsylvania.

Tuesday morning: Out the door at the crack of 9:20am (we don’t go anywhere at the crack of dawn), with Encyclopedia Blue at the wheel (YIKES!!) we headed to

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July 1-2-3, 1863 was a great deal warmer than April 7, 2009

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close-up-of-robert-e-lee-on-travellerBut General Robert E. Lee still sat tall and proud on “Traveller”

dscn0489 …and we still climbed the platforms in the wind and snow flurries to see views like this:

Gettysburg, PA

Gettysburg, PA

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I don’t know if it was sobering to the kids or not, but at least they will have a little bit more context the next time we sit down to watch the Ken Burns documentary “The Civil War.”

It was so cold and windy that we skipped the cemetery, swung into a McDonald’s for a pit stop (bathrooms and 15 dollar-menu cheeseburgers) before continuing on to Philadelphia.

Friendship Gate in Chinatown

Friendship Gate in Chinatown

in the Shanghai Bazaar

in the Shanghai Bazaar

Independence Hall (formerly known as the State House)

Independence Hall (formerly known as the State House)

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We got settled into our hotel for the night and paid the $20 to park the car in an attended lot. Then we walked through Chinatown to Independence Square. Everything was closed up for the night, but we could still walk around and take pictures and make plans for tomorrow.

Nearly everything we saw on this trip was FREE (a favorite word for a family of 6), including the timed entrance tickets for Independence Hall.

dscn0515-liberty-bell-viewed-through-off-hours-window

The Liberty Bell is enclosed in a building (again, FREE to see) which was closed for the night; however, there is a viewing window for those who come after-hours.

We meandered down toward the waterfront in search of a place to eat dinner.

Irish Memorial

Irish Memorial

When you think Philly, what do you think of? What, you don’t think of Irish immigrants? After seeing this moving memorial, I certainly will!

great hunger, starvation, and desparation

great hunger, starvation, and desparation

mixed feelings about the journey

mixed feelings about the journey

Welcome hope from those who came before

Welcome hope from those who came before

SuperDad kept referring to that guy as “Uncle Sven” even when I pointed out that Sven is a Scandinavian name. “Seamus” didn’t stick!

In Remembrance

In Remembrance

Okay, so yes, you might also think of Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches, which is what I had for dinner (with onions, peppers, and mushrooms) along with a Harp lager (gotta keep with the Irish theme).

We kept to well-lit streets on the way back to the hotel. I’m told that Philly has a higher crime rate than NYC.

dscn0529-6-in-a-roomWe don’t need much for the night, just a bathroom and a place to sleep… but TV helps to keep us occupied while waiting for our turn in the bathroom. We put a boy on the floor, 2 boys in a bed, another boy on the floor, 2 parents in a bed, and there was still room for my new CPAP machine in the corner!

I opened my eyes to this sight

With complimentary breakfast in the morning downstairs, it was just right for one night. It also had some impressive views out the window the next morning! I opened my eyes to this sight —->

dscn0531-broader-view

dscn0538-crane-lifting-girder-into-place2We were across the street from the new addition to the Convention Center.

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We ate breakfast and checked out of the hotel but kept the parking spot (good until 3pm), then we moseyed back over to the tourist part of town. SuperDad and the boys toured the US Mint, but I couldn’t go in because I had a camera. (I wasn’t the only person standing outside while the rest of my group went inside). Then we all went over to see the Liberty Bell up close and in person:

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We also had our free tour of Independence Hall:

Court room with 3 judges, jury box, and witness STAND

Court room with 3 judges, jury box, and witness STAND

Assembly room

Assembly room

Now it’s nearly noon… what should we do next?

dscn0567wondering-whats-next

A 20-minute carriage ride? That driver looks hopeful…

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Nah… we need to spend the $30 on lunch.

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(Sorry, sad driver — the economy sucks, doesn’t it?)

We try one final time (two previous stops have been unsuccessful thanks to large groups ahead of us) and manage to get into the Federal Reserve for the “Money in Motion” exhibit. It was FREE, but it wasn’t a free lunch…

SuperDad says we should Subway to the car. Huh? Why not walk? Oh. That kind of Subway! Five dollar foot-longs? Great idea! Four tuna and one roast beef on wheat, please. (We’ve got water, chips, and cookies stashed in the car.) Then we are off to our final tourist destination…

dscn0568-imposing-fortress-with-30ft-walls

With 30 ft walls (ten more feet of wall underground) and an imposing facade… (those windows are fake — a trick of the eye, making the outside more imposing to those used to seeing European fortresses, while leaving the inside plain)

dscn0569-faux-windows-on-the-outside

Eastern State Penitentiary was an active prison for 142 years. It closed in 1971 and is now a fascinating facility to tour. SuperDad read online that it was a great place to take families! I wouldn’t want to take preschoolers or toddlers there, but it was a great place for a family like ours.

dscn0585-eye-of-godThis was the world’s first true penitentiary; its goal was to inspire penitence. While the prisoners were in austere and solitary confinement, their arched cells were lit from above with a skylight (“the eye of God”)

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They were supplied with a Bible, bed, desk, toilet, and meals. This place had central heating and running water before the White House did!

dscn0595-original-cells-had-individual-exercise-yards

See that wooden door in the rear? It led out to a solitary exercise yard, which looked like this:

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(SnakeMaster not included in prison yard package)

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The rooms were small:

listening to a description

listening to a description

dscn0587-facilities-in-each-cellBut at least there was a toilet!

Officials from other American cities and from Europe came to visit this new kind of prison, where the goal was focused on reform instead of simply punishment.
The building itself (along with the “new approach”) became a model for over 300 prisons world-wide.

Al Capone was the most famous prisoner here, but there were plenty of others, too. There are several escape stories, including the infamous tunnel:

dscn0598-site-of-the-infamous-tunnelUnder the guise of fixing up an old storage room at the end of the hall, a prisoner (who was trained as a stonemason) dug out a hole in the wall, which he hid behind a wall-mounted wastebasket. Over the next 18 months, he dug 15 feet down, then tunneled the full distance across the prison yard, under the 40-ft prison wall (10ft of which was underground) and up & out into the street! He didn’t make his escape that night, but came back for his buddies. Twelve men made it out through that tunnel before they were caught! The final man turned himself in on the 8th day — he knocked on the warden’s door and asked to be re-jailed. He was hungry and didn’t know where else to turn. Everyone from that incident was re-captured, as well as most of the other attempted escapes. There was only one man in 142 years of prison operation who escaped; to this day, no one knows what happened to him.

After the prison closed in 1971, feral cats made this place “home.” A sculptor has created 36 different “ghost cats” which can be found throughout the building.

ghost cat

ghost cat

Eventually a humane society stepped in to spay/neuter these cats, and the last of them died in 2002 or 2003. A wonderful man named Dan McCloud fed them every day for 28 years; he died in 2002.

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I was navigating for our return trip, so I nixed the turnpike in favor of driving on highway 30 through Lancaster County. I was rewarded with the sight of an Amish horse & buggy (and driver, of course) crossing the highway as we drove through a small town.

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We learned a lesson here: staying in the city is a BIG time-saver. The less time spent commuting to where you want to be, the better! For the still-to-happen NYC trip, while I don’t think we can scrape up the funds to stay in $$~Manhattan~$$, I think we need to stay closer in than Elizabeth, NJ.