Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dreaming of Acadia

It’s well after 9 PM as I write this and Lost is on and I don’t know if you know this, but I am such a Lost dork. I had some work to do on some photos for school tonight and am only now getting to my post. I’ve decided to use some old stock photos from the summer of 2007 when my husband and I took a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. We’ve been toying with the idea of heading back up there this summer, so I’ve been looking at pictures.

This is the view from the top of Cadillac Mountain. Bar Harbor is below and the Porcupine Islands are straight ahead. You can drive up to Cadillac Mountain, which is what we did this fine morning. And then we began our hike at the top.

Oh, look! It’s another photo of My Husband’s Back. I’ll have to put this in my imaginary album that’s full of photos of him walking ahead of me.

I loved the week we spent here. Every morning, we’d wake, have a quick breakfast, pack our backpacks and then take the car for the half hour drive to the park. And every day, we’d take a killer hike. I remember crying once, to myself, of course. Some of the trails are so difficult. And my knee was hurting. The trails take you up masses of rock, following cairns that led the way. Handrails made of iron were driven into boulders to aid in climbing them.

But I did it. And the views were spectacular. This was taken along the Ocean Path looking down onto Sand Beach.

I took all these photos with the only digital camera I had at the time: my old reliable Sony Cybershot. I needed something I could slip in a pocket and it was perfect for the job.

Another view from the Ocean Path. If you ever find yourself in Maine, a visit to Acadia is a must. And now I must get back to Lost. Daniel Farraday is back and all hell is breaking loose.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The story behind the house (and a link to a ghost story)

Many of you who have been following this blog already know the circumstances in which we came to live in this home. But lately, I’ve had so many questions on the subject of the house that I’ve decided to post about it, then put it on the sidebar with a link to this post.

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Here’s the driveway as it looked back in October of last year when I came to see the property.

DSC_0157 copy 2To begin: This home is not owned by us. We are caretaking the house and property until the owners put it on the market for sale.

I want to respect their privacy, and although they have told me it’s alright to post photos of the house, I still don’t want to say too much about something that doesn’t belong to me.

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The original section was built in 1769 and there was a large addition added in 1810 with a Widow’s Walk on the rooftop.

And yes, there is a way to get up there.

It has been documented that General George Washington, the General Marquis de Lafayette and several others were here on this property in the summer of 1777. They came to observe British troops, under the direction of General Howe, who were making landfall down on the river's edge about 8 miles away. This hill would have afforded an excellent view, using a telescope. But it didn’t show the whole story. Washington needed more intelligence and a small party was sent to investigate.

The story gets interesting here, because one of the soldiers was caught and hung as a spy. His name was Choffee, and he was an aide to Lafayette. He was a French watchmaker who was sympathetic toward the American cause.

Twelve years ago, when we first came to Maryland, we moved to a horse farm along the Elk River. It was there that the story was told to us of a ghost that haunted the property, a spy who was caught and hung in an old apple tree that had been long gone. I never saw him, however.

Local historian Ed Okonowicz wrote about Choffee in one of his books, “Pulling Back the Curtain”, in his Spirits Between the Bays series. To read the entire story, go to the link above where it will take you to an Amazon page and do a ‘search within this book’. Search for keywords Friendly Ghost. It will give you 3 pages (11-13). To read the rest of the story, search for the word re-enactors and you will be able to read the 3 remaining pages (14-16). I lived in the house right next door to where this took place and met “Penny” in the story. (Their real names were changed to protect their privacy).

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Back to this house, though. Below are a few photos of the inside.

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The dining room and former main staircase. This one leads to the master bedroom.

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Walking towards the library which we’re using as a living room.

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One of my favorite photos, on the shelf in the living room.

It isn’t in the best of condition and needs some loving care. But it’s really quite nice in a faded old grand dame sort of way. I don’t know how long we’ll be here. But I do know that we’re fortunate to have somewhere private and homey.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And the winner is . . .

I love the random integer generator. I asked it to kindly give me one single number between 1 and 72 and it chose number 56. Congratulations, Oliag! By the way, the photographs on your blog are beautiful. “Spring Blossoms” will be on its way to you.  Please e-mail me at with your mailing address.

Thank you to all who played in this month’s giveaway. It was fun, wasn’t it? And to thank all those who played, I’d love to give you something. I really would. But the best thing I can do is to offer you a Buy One, Get One Free on my etsy site.

For one week, beginning tonight and ending next Tuesday evening, readers of this blog will receive this offer. Choose any two photos from my site, but only put one in your cart. Then e-mail me with your second choice and both photographs will be on their way to you, ready for you to frame and enjoy.

This is not, I repeat NOT a blatant attempt to get you to all purchase from my site. I simply wanted to give you something and this is all I can think of. I want to thank you for your kind comments that actually make me blush sometimes when I read them. You see, I don’t think I’m all that and a bag of chips. I am just me: a dork with a camera. I’m learning as I’m going and have been taking pictures since I was in my very early 20’s. I’ve always been the unofficial photographer, not only in my family, but in my husband’s family and every place I’ve ever worked. I’m more comfortable behind the lens, and I guess I have what is called an ‘eye’ for a photograph.

Regardless, thank you. I’m glad you come by and visit. It would be lonely here in Blogaritaville without you all.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

PS ~ I tried, but was unsuccessful in publishing the page or any photos with this post. Windows Live Writer kept giving me a file error message. Sorry.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hot and bothered in Maryland (and the Giveaway is still on)

If you’d like to enter my Giveaway, see the post below this. The contest ends at 6 PM Tuesday and the winner will be announced later in the evening.

I want Spring back, please. Today it went up to 92 here in Cecil County and the entire weekend was quite warm as well. But today was a scorcher here. When I came home, I’d noticed my husband had put fans in strategic locations and had covered the kitchen windows with some interesting choices in fabrics. I found a nice linen tablecloth from Williams Sonoma in a lovely sage green hanging over one window and a textured bed linen in ochre over the other. The room was cool, and I told my husband it was tres chic, because I’m in a French mood today.

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It really wasn’t tres chic, but if he wants to hang tablecloths and bedspreads on a couple of the windows, then who’s it hurting? It’s not like we’re having guests and entertaining all the time. And besides, I really didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

We don’t plan on turning on the AC in this house too often because it’s too huge a space to cool all summer. So we’re looking for small ways to cut back on the heat entering. The walls are probably 3-feet thick on the outside and that will help a great deal. But we may get a small window unit just for the bedroom. There’s no use suffering.

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I still took George for his walk after school. Here’s a view of the backyard where my husband has a small garden. His lettuce is awesome and it’s coming in really well.

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I found this leaf sprout from a downed tree at the edge of the property. I took this with my regular 18-55 Nikon DX lens and set it to the macro setting.

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My husband took this photo of one of the azalea bushes out front. It’s beautiful here in the Spring!

Remember, the Giveaway ends at 6 PM Tuesday. Until then, my friends . . .

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It’s Another Giveaway!

In case you’re wondering why I’m holding another Giveaway, it’s just because I feel like it, that’s why. And I can do what I want.

And it’s also because I love you, dear readers. Your support has been tremendous. And it’s just fun having a Giveaway to celebrate Spring.

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Here’s how it works. Choose any picture you see here, or from my etsy site. Tell me which is your favorite by leaving that choice in a comment on this post. VERY IMPORTANT: I need you to leave a way for me to contact you if you win. One comment per person, please.

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I will let the random integer at choose the winner and on Tuesday evening, I will announce who it is and what they won. The contest will run from now (around 7ish Sunday night) until this Tuesday at 6 PM Eastern Standard Time.

It’s easy, isn’t it? The hardest part will be just choosing one.

Feel free to pimp this contest on your own blog. If you do, please come back here and leave another comment, along with the link to your post.

Until Tuesday evening then, my friends . . .

Old school on the hill

On Saturday, I went on a tour with students, alum and faculty members to see a beloved old school on the hill in Port Deposit, Maryland. It had fallen into ruin and is now being restored.

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To give it this old look, I ran TRA’s Old Skool action on it. How appropriate. I like the color version below just as much because it’s spring and lovely and I caught the cupola on Memorial Hall just as the clouds were coming in, leaving some nice blue sky peeking through.

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On another note, when I woke up and checked my mail this morning, I saw I’d been spammed by that awful Ed again, only he’s changed his name to sexy and my posts were full of Chinese porn. I do not want to deal with this person any more, yet I don’t want to use comment moderation. It’s simply annoying. And as I was deleting the porn comments from my old posts, I noticed that they were the same posts that had been spammed previously. What a jerk.

I’m off to enjoy my day and hope you all have a wonderful one as well. We’re heading to Jersey to visit with my in-laws and wish mum a happy birthday.

I love coffee. I love spring mornings. I love spring flowers. I love when you visit.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

(contest tomorrow to celebrate my 200th follower. yay!)

Friday, April 24, 2009

What does your heart tell you to do?

The blogging world is an extensive network that consists of so very many caring people, I’ve come to find. Never did I realize when I wrote my first post back in December of 2007 that I would come to get to know so many different and wonderful individuals.

Today, while visiting the blog of a photographer that I admire, I found a post she’d written that directed me to a friend of hers who had blogged about a woman who needs a hand. Her name is Kelaya.

To read their story, please visit this link. I cannot do much, but I can do something. I can send her words of encouragement, and I can pass this along to you. This is a real story and it won’t take much of your time, I promise.DSC_0163 copy

Feel the love,

PS ~ I’ll be back Sunday night. I’m visiting with family this weekend.

All over the place

Just some things that I’m thinking about off the top of my head, so please don’t expect much. I took a walk around the property and shot these photos after work today. It was right after I did some exercises in the yard and some jumping jacks.

I’m serious. And they make you pee, you know.

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George loves this weather. I think he also likes the fact that he doesn’t get chapped lips from too much frisbee playing.

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This is what the house looked like coming up the driveway after work. My husband picked me up today and brought George for the ride. That dog would have loved to get out at the school, but there were kids everywhere. And little kids freak him out. He tries to hide.

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I was just playing around here with Michelle Black’s Soft Bleach-out Glaze action and one of her free textures.

I forgot about Pioneer Woman’s snapfish album contest and I was scrambling to get mine finished. The deadline was extended until tonight. Only problem is that I now have two entered. I thought that going back in and editing it would make it change in her group room. But I was wrong.

I’m wrong a lot.

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On my walk around the property this afternoon, I see George running down to greet me. He’d been playing frisbee with my husband up by the house. He wants me to come up there and watch him. If he could talk, I know he’d be saying “Watch this, mommy.” Of course, now that I’ve remembered those days when my children used to always say that, I feel a tiny bit sad.

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He leaps. He scores. He is the frisbee king.

He loves it when I say, “Good dog, George.” And “Great catch”. I can tell he loves it, you know.

A quick shout out here to Terrie and her co-workers at Johns Hopkins Bayview. Thanks for stopping by again and enjoying my dog photos. And thanks for all the children’s books that you always give the school library, Terrie.

Another shout out to one of my favorite parents at our school. Hi, Cindy. Yes, you Cindy M.

I know you read this blog sometimes, but what you don’t know is how talented you are. You are a natural photographer and your portraits are amazing. But girl, you gotta try digital.

So hi. And you can stop blushing now.

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I gots the frisbee. I gots the frisbee.

He is so proud of himself as he prances to bring it back and have it thrown to him again. And again. And again. And . . .

Oh, I just remembered. Survivor is on tonight.

Thanks again, everyone, for stopping by. I’m thinking of having another giveaway soon. Just a heads up. It’s going to be a free 10x12 print, so stay tuned.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

Thursday, April 23, 2009

After the rain

As my husband and I sat eating our dinner in the breakfast nook, we looked out the window at the rain. We’ve been getting a lot of it lately, but then it’s April and it’s not really a surprise. It’s supposed to rain in April. And this evening, it was coming down softly and steadily, making the earth lush with green. It was beautiful, actually, in this light.

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Just after dinner, my husband called me outside. It had stopped raining and the sun was peeking through the clouds, turning the world that lovely color that I love. I snapped this photo above from the back of the house. The dogwood is blooming and that stone wall is the breakfast nook.

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I shot this out the master bedroom window. These both are SOOC (straight out of camera).

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A beautiful azalea bloom from the bush out front.

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Here’s another bloom with the evening sun hitting it just right.

Thanks to all who enjoyed my day hike posts below. My husband and I used to hike and backpack all the time, and once took our boys on a three-day trek through the backcountry at Shenandoah. They were middle-school aged at the time and I think they really liked it, although it was hard work. My husband also took each of them separately on backpacking adventures.

And speaking of sons, I’m glad because my eldest is coming to visit this weekend from the Big City. We’re having an Alumni Banquet and a feature this year is a tour of the old school campus, which should be pretty interesting. The campus was moved to its present location in the 1970’s but back in the early 1900’s, it was one of the premier academic establishments on the east coast and the tree lined streets of the campus were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. Mr. Olmstead was known as the father of American landscape architecture and was famous for his design of many urban parks, most notably Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City.

Ok. I have a rule about not talking about where I work, so I’ll stop now.

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Last night we had a wicked little storm blow in. I took this photo off the front porch when my husband called me and told me to bring the camera. These are both SOOC as well.

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I’ve never known George to be afraid during storms, but last night, for some reason, he was scared out of his gourd. He wouldn’t leave my side, hiding under my legs, burrowing into me while I sat on the couch; why the poor dog was just a mess. Luckily it was over quickly.

Hope you all have a great day. And until tomorrow then, my friends . . .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One last hike, to Rapidan Camp in Shenandoah Nat’l Park

Indulge me, please, in this one last hike that I will share with you from our visit to Virginia last week. The trail that leads to Rapidan Camp is a beautiful walk with a gradual decline of about 850 feet. Believe me, it’s a lot when you ascend, but I just kept taking small breaks on the way back up.

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The Mill Prong Trail begins at milepost 52.8, up by Big Meadows. The camp was formerly named Camp Hoover and was Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover’s home away from home from 1929 to 1932.

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That’s my husband, crossing the stream in the first photo up there. We crossed Mill Prong Stream back and forth for a total of three times and the footing was pretty good on all three crosses. There are beautiful pools and little waterfalls along the trail as well.

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We hiked for approximately 2 miles and the photo above shows us coming out to the edge of the camp on the main camp road.  There are three buildings that have been restored and the rest of the camp is gone except for the trails that still run through the retreat. The house we’re coming to first is the Creel.

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The Creel housed two of the president’s chief aids. Larry Richey, his personal secretary and former FBI agent, shared this cabin with the president’s personal physician, Joel T. Boone, Jr.

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Presidential aids that were stationed at the camp have said that this fireplace was mainly used for outdoor photographs. When reporters and authors wanted pictures of the Chief Executive and his guests, they were often posed here. Logs were positioned around the hearth for people to sit upon.


Here’s the fireplace, circa 1930. That fire looks pretty photogenic, too.

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President Hoover was an avid outdoorsman and loved to fish, saying that it was “an excuse and a valid reason of the widest range of usefulness for temporary retreat from our busy world”. He and his wife wanted a place within 100 miles driving distance from the capitol and chose this spot because of the natural beauty and the proximity to the Rapidan River which flows right by the camp. The photo above shows the presidential cabin which is callled The Brown House. During the week, they lived in The White House. Get it?


This is a file photo of President Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover standing on the footbridge that you see in the photo above.

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“This camp,—at the end of nowhere, with a road that in wet weather lets you sink to your hubs in slushy mush and while there bump over the most amazing boulders . . . -- has electric lights and a telephone and its morning papers. The mail is dropped from an airplane!”

—Mrs. Lou Henry Hoover

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US and foreign leaders came to the isolated and secure location of this camp for strategy sessions with the president.

It’s really an interesting place. And what’s even better is that if you don’t want to do the hike, a little tour van leaves from Big Meadows, driving the two miles in to the camp. Plus, you get to go inside all the buildings and get a guided tour from a park official. The last time we were here, we lucked out and all the buildings were open as there was a tour going on.

To view some wonderful old photographs of the camp, visit this site.

Thanks, everyone, for sharing this hike with me. I do have to admit that on the way back up the trail, just after we’d eaten our lunch, I spotted a black bear cub running up the trail about 100 yards behind us. I freaked out and took off up the trail! My husband thought I was crazy and told me to change the lens, to put on the zoom. I just wanted to get out of there because I knew that momma bear would be around somewhere and I didn’t want to run into HER. The cub eventually veered off into the woods.


Until tomorrow, my friends . . .