Monday, June 29, 2015

The Gargoyle Hunter

I've been obsessed with gargoyles since I was a kid.  Years ago I wrote a fictional story on my blog about gargoyles.  Whenever I visit a city with lots of history, I am constantly looking up for gargoyles.  When I got to Philadelphia, with the assistance of my new friend at the front desk of our hotel, I mapped out a route to go see all the gargoyles within walking distance. 

All the pictures in this post came from the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. 
 These gargoyles were all seen one morning when Paul and I went on a seven mile run.  I did not want to carry my camera, so the pictures were all taken by cell phone.  When I saw how neat the gargoyles were, I wished I had made the effort to run with my camera after all.  A cell phone with no zoom lens just doesn't do them justice.

Gargoyles were originally designed as water spouts to route water off the building through their open mouths.

They were made to look scary to keep evil spirits away from the church.  I think they're just marvelous.

What do you think, readers?  Would my neighbors be horrified if I were to put a gargoyle on top of our log home?

Friday, June 26, 2015

40 on Friday

1. When I went to the conference in Philadelphia with Paul, he had a very nice reception at The Franklin Institute.  I had a blast in the brain section.  On the upper level, there is a skybike that looks really fun.  Sadly, the line was too long.  But we enjoyed watching.
2.  Today is my fortieth birthday.  Forty is certainly less exciting than say thirty.  Or twenty. 

3.  I have been enjoying the garden this year.  I have spent a lot of time picking off squash bug eggs.  For some reason the companion planting of radishes and marigolds was not effective this year.  I don't like to use any chemicals, so I just inspect every single leaf by hand, day by day. 

4.  Speaking of gardening, I had not planted turnips in 3 years because I was the only one who liked them.  But this year I decided I could just eat them all myself.  So I planted a few.  And guess what?  Cort and Reid LOVE roasted turnips.  We're talking three helpings at dinner love!  So next year I'll be planting more.

5.  After listening to a podcast on Appalachian gardening, I special ordered some heirloom seeds for the cushaw squash.  I had never heard of it.  Supposedly it makes a lovely pumpkin pie.  But even more important?  It is squash bug resistant.  Hoping I will have some luck with these.

What have you got growing, readers?  And if you don't have anything growing, do you have any advice for the 40th decade? 

Linked today with Willy Nilly Friday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A New Family Member

Maybe some of you remember our beloved border collie, Scooter.  It took almost a year and a half after losing him before we felt ready for another dog.  In a roundabout way, I heard about an English Setter that had been through a terrible tragedy and was looking for a new home.  I went to see him and felt like he would be a good match for our farm.  The boys had been asking for a dog for some time.

Bo is very fast.  He loves to run through our pastures.  He has no trouble keeping up with the boys.  Or with me, when I run.

He is two and a half years old.  We got him neutered and microchipped first thing. 

He needs to put on some weight.  I had the vet do a big deworming.  And am also hoping the neutering and constant availability of food will help. 
Look at that sweet face.  We are happy to be able to offer him a fresh start.  Hopefully he will enjoy living on Two Bears Farm.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hunting for Gargoyles in Philadelphia

I have two posts about my hunt for gargoyles while in Philadelphia.  I think I walked over 8 miles one day looking for gargoyles.  In the rain.  And cold!  And I had the most excellent time. 

Sadly, the first building I hunted down was a historic firehouse that had been torn down.  I had better luck finding the other gargoyles, which were all on historic churches.

Usually when you think of a gargoyle, you think of the scary creatures with wings.  I did see some of those. 

But gargoyles now seem to include any face along the gutters that can serve as water spouts.  Including creatures like lions on the sides of buildings.

I googled the gargoyles in Philadelphia, and my front desk friends helped me map out where they were in the city.

Each time I came to a new historic church I was excited to see what kinds of gargoyles I might find.

They were really varied on each location.  I never knew what to expect until I got there. 

Below is not a gargoyle, but I thought it a wonderful sculpture, so I've included it in my pictures.

I wish that architects would still be so creative and ornate in their buildings.  Construction today isn't nearly as interesting.

We could use a lot more faces on the corners of buildings, don't you think? 

And giant towers.  We need more buildings with mysterious giant towers, don't you think?

Check out the faces on this church!  Makes me think of Sophocles. 

So this church was by far my favorite.  It had traditional gargoyles all over and they were just marvelous.

Seriously.  Does it get any better than this?  Okay, so maybe if I got to actually go to Notre Dame in Paris that gargoyle could top this one.  But as far as U.S. gargoyles go, this one takes the cake?

The ladies at the front desk of my hotel were intrigued by my gargoyle hunting.  They said they'd never had anyone do so before.  I was surprised more people aren't wanting to go searching for gargoyles.

How can you not love the sparks of imagination these faces create?

This building below is actually from a building on Drexel's campus, so it is the only one that is not from a church. 

It was a little off the beaten track, but was close to where my car was getting repaired, so worth the trip.

Aren't the details on this building mind-blowing? 

You can see the constant drizzle in my picture below.  I dealt with the drizzle all day, but it wasn't so bad.  I had good distractions.

What do you like about historic buildings, readers?  Do you have a favorite?
Stay tuned - I have another gargoyle post coming up soon!

Friday, June 19, 2015

City of Brotherly Love? Yes.

It seems head up north and find even friendlier people than here in the south.  But we met the most helpful and kind people in Philadelphia.  It really is the City of Brotherly Love (see all the kids running around the fountain below?  So fun!).
1.  I made friends with the people at the front desk of the Hilton Garden Inn on Arch street, where we stayed.  They not only helped me with my gargoyle hunting, but they gave me free breakfast coupons for me and Paul.  For all three mornings we were there!  We were spoiled with crepes and made to order omelets with fresh fruit and bacon.

2.  The a/c in my car went out on the drive up.  It's a 6.5 hour drive.  It was 91* outside.  It was 91* inside the car, with the windows rolled down, on I-95.  Not a fun experience.  So I had a little trouble when asking around for recommendations of a place to fix my car.  Turns out most of the folks I asked didn't have cars, because they lived in the city and used public transportation.  But I met one of the Amtrak conductors on a little train I took to catch a commuter train to Manhattan to visit my uncle for the day.  She was fascinating to talk to - telling me stories from her twenty+ years of life on the trains.  She was able to direct me to a Firestone a couple of miles from our hotel.

3.  I took my car to the Firestone.  Paul and I ran back from there, leaving my car for the day.  They put Freon in it, and tried to pressurize the a/c or something, but their machine broke halfway through the job.  They needed a new filter for their machine.  They thought we'd be okay on the way home (we were) but they apologized for not being able to complete the job 100%.  Then they didn't charge me.  And on top of that?  They also fixed a tail light that was burned out.  At no charge.

4.  We went to Hard Rock CafĂ© one night with Paul's boss and his wife.  It was crowded and things were moving a little slow.  Then they accidentally burned the burgers for two of us.  As a result, they didn't charge us for those burgers, and they gave us a round of drinks for free.

5.  A couple of times when I asked for help finding a place, I had people that left their jobs (at the hotel, and at a restaurant) to walk me to where I needed to go.  Wow.

In conclusion, Philly is awesome for all the history and museums and fun things to see.  But what struck me even more was how fantastic the people were.  Their impressions will stick with me even longer than the Liberty Bell.

Readers, when was the last time you met an incredible stranger?

Linked with Willy Nilly Friday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Chinatown Manhole Covers

I was walking around Chinatown in Philadelphia and saw that they had the coolest manhole covers.  They were from the Chinese Zodiac, and were brass.
I must have missed two of them during my walk.  I think I know where they were, but they were on the other side of a street I never got around to crossing.
I can't recall ever previously seeing decorative manhole covers.  Have you ever seen them anywhere, readers?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Spring 2015 Dance Recital

Cort had his Spring dance recital recently.  He performed in both Ballet 1 and Hip Hop this time around.
Here he is in ballet.

Cort is the only male in ballet, and this time he got to demo a move at the end by assisting a little girl in a pose, holding her foot up.  It was so cute that I had to share, so I asked the girl's mother if it would be alright to post a picture here.

Of course, Cort's real passion is the hip hop.  He sure loves to breakdance.
It was another successful recital. 
Now he will have a summer break before dance starts back up.
I'm sure he will miss it, but at least he has a few breakdancing dvds to watch and practice.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Five Things About the Mutter Museum

Years ago I was in Philadelphia for a wedding, and later on a second trip to run their marathon (in 2004).  Both times I really wanted to visit the Mutter Museum, which is full of medical oddities.  I never found the time.  A couple of weeks ago, Paul went to a work conference in Philly, and I tagged along.  My parents were nice enough to watch the kids.  I finally got to visit the Mutter Museum, when Paul was in conference sessions.  It was excellent.  Unfortunately, they didn't allow any pictures inside the museum itself - just the lobby.
Here are five interesting things I got to see in the Mutter Museum:
1.  Slides of Albert Einstein's brain, along with information about how his brain differed from the average human's. 
2.  The tallest skeleton in North America, of an individual afflicted with gigantism.  If I remember correctly, it is 7 feet 6 inches tall.
3.  A wax replica of a woman who had a horn growing from her forehead (there were other similar models of individuals with horns growing from other body parts.
4.  A malignant tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland's hard palate.
5.  A large collection of conjoined twins, including the conjoined liver of the famous Chang and Eng Bunker.
I've wanted to go for so long, I'd say this counts for checking off a bucket list item.
Linked today with Willy Nilly Friday.
Readers, would you also be fascinated by a museum like this?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kindergarten Graduation for the Twins

Cort and Reid had their kindergarten graduation a couple of weeks ago.  They did a musical which was really cute.  Reid was the Little Boy Blue.

Cort was the doctor from No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.

Afterwards, they gave out candy awards.  Cort got the Jolly Rancher award for always having a positive attitude.  Reid got the Whoppers award for always telling great stories and having big ideas. 
How is it that these two are going to be first graders next year?!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Field Day 2015

School is out, but I still need to recap field day.  I was happy to be able to attend, even though I never liked field day as a kid.

It was chilly that morning, but by the time field day started for my three, it had turned into a beautiful day.

I kept walking back and forth across the field so I could take pictures of the twins, and then of Pierce.

It was fun having all three of them participate.  Although I have to say, the school was nice enough to let the twins participate previously even before they were students.

Plunger race.  I missed the leaking hat race that they had last year.  I hope it makes a reappearance for next year.

Rolling a tire isn't so simple when it weighs more than you do.

Poor Reid.  His shirt, as you can see, was quite roomy on him.  I had put on sunscreen before he left for school, but that was when he was in regular clothes.  They gave out the shirts at school, and his sagged off his shoulder on one side, leaving him with a sunburn on his shoulder.

Don't they just look like they get along?  Like they'd never bicker over silly things like who put whose shoes in the wrong place?

The Homestead Creamery ice cream truck was there giving free ice cream to everyone.  I had the blueberry cheesecake.  Divine.

Pierce refused to get wet all day.  He wouldn't even do the big waterslide.  A 5th grader (who had his field day in the morning, before it had warmed up) told him the water was the coldest water in the world.  No amount of begging on my part could get Pierce to do the waterslide.
Somehow, I think he still had a fun day. 
Readers, did you like field day when you were a kid?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Little Happies

What's making you happy this week?  I have a few things.

1.  Apricots are in season.  They are one of my favorite fruits.  Their season doesn't seem to last long, and they taste awful out of season, so I try to maximize the month or so that they are in their prime.

2.  Finishing the Superstition Mountain trilogy with the boys.  It was fantastic.  If you have elementary school aged kids, I highly recommend it.  Mystery, adventure, treasure hunting, suspense, peril.  It has a little bit of everything!

3.  Chocolate herbal coffee.  It doesn't have the bitterness of coffee.  It's more like a tea.  But it kind of tastes like chocolate coffee.  I sampled it at the Earth Day festival in April, and promptly ordered myself a case.

4.  Watching Cort practice his breakdance moves.  I ordered him a used copy of How to Breakdance 1 and he watches it over and over and practices the moves.  It's pretty cute.
5.   Getting a grant to cover occupational therapy for one of my boys.  The school was providing it to work on fine motor skills for a while, but then decided there had been enough improvement that it was no longer needed.  I felt like he could use a bit more, but our insurance doesn't cover it, and at up to $200 a session it wasn't in our budget.  I applied for a medical grant through UnitedHealth for kids under 16 with private insurance that doesn't cover certain therapies.  When I got the email that we had received the grant, it brought tears of gratitude and relief to my eyes.  If you have a child that could benefit from a medical grant, you can go read about the process and qualifications HERE.  And feel free to email me directly if you have questions.
Readers, what are your little happies this week?
Linked with Willy Nilly Friday.