Sunday, April 13, 2014

Grover Cleveland

Yesterday Bruce and I decided to visit the Grover Cleveland birthplace in nearby Caldwell, NJ. Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. How, you might ask, could that be? He was the only President that served a term (winning the popular vote), lost his re-election (which he won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote), then won the next election. He is also the only President to be married in the White House.

Grover Cleveland was born in this two-story parsonage in 1837, the son of a Presbyterian minister. The family left Caldwell when Grover (actually Stephen Grover) was a child. He eventually ended up in Buffalo, where he was an attorney.  He became the mayor of Buffalo, then the Governor of New York. He was elected President the first time in 1884. He was a bachelor, eventually falling in love with the daughter of his law partner.  They married in the White House in 1886. Frances Folsom Cleveland was only 21, Grover 49. It was quite the event in American history- the whole country fell in love with the beautiful Frances, and followed their relationship and family life with great interest. They had five children.

We had a delightful tour guide, who gave us scads of interesting information and stories. We were the only ones there, so she had plenty of time to share lots of background information on the Cleveland family.  The only negative part of the entire tour was that I was unable to take photos in the house, except for one room. I don't know the actual reason, except the tour guide said all New Jersey State Historical sites have the same rule. I occasionally find historical sites and museums have non-photography rules, but it's usually because of artwork (copyright issues) or damage from flash photography. Rarely do museums forbid photography altogether.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Old Friends

I have a dear friend named Linda. We met in 1986 when our family moved to Rhode Island, when I went to work for Hasbro. We went to the same ward (church congregation), and soon discovered that we both played bluegrass and traditional music. Linda was a bit more into Country music, as she grew up in Oklahoma and Kansas, and her Dad was a professional country musician.  We soon found ourselves getting together weekly to play music. I played the autoharp, guitar and banjo, and Linda played acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo and mandolin. We shared our favorite songs, arrangements and harmonies, and had such a great time! A wonderful friendship developed. We often performed together for church events, small gatherings, and even a venue or two. Then we moved away in 1990.  Through the years we stayed in touch, and there were quite a number of times that I went back to Rhode Island to visit, and often, to play music.

There were some years in the late '90s and 2000s when I would go to New York from California each February, to attend the New York Toy Fair. I often scheduled my trip to fly into TF Green Airport in Warwick, RI instead of LaGuardia, and stay with Linda and her husband Kevin for the weekend, then take the train down to NYC, attend Toy Fair, then go back to RI and fly home. My autoharp would go with me on those trips, and Linda and I would take the opportunity to play together. We were a bit rusty. Our voices weren't quite what they were in our younger years. Sometimes songs were forgotten (although Linda kept a meticulous list of our repertoire) and chords didn't come easily. But still, that music was one of the bonds that cemented our friendship though 3,000 miles separated us.

Since we moved back to the East Coast 18 months ago, I've been to Rhode Island several times to visit Linda and play music with her again. In September her dear husband Kevin passed away. It was a sad trip to Rhode Island for his funeral, and no musical instrument accompanied us as we drove the few hours to attend the service. But we went back again in November, and played some music, even though it was a difficult time for her. But music can soothe wounds and comfort the grieving, and I think our playing together was a chance for her to forget her troubles for a few hours.

This past weekend we went once again to Rhode Island, and spent the night and most of a day with Linda, watching the General Conference of our church, and playing sweet music together. I had Bruce take pictures of us together. I don't think we have a single picture of us playing together from those years we were living near one another. Wish we did!

Now Linda will be moving soon, out West to live with one of her sons and his family. I'm sad that my music buddy will be leaving me this time. I guess I'll just have to take a trip to Hayden, Idaho one of these days, autoharp in tow.

I'll miss you, Linda!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ocean State

More photos of our weekend in Rhode Island last weekend... Saturday evening and Sunday were gorgeous in the Ocean State. We stayed with our friends, the Archibalds, and we took a little driving tour of Newport and the nearby coastline. Lots of photo ops, so I made a little layout of a few of the resulting photos. Notice how I cleverly used 'ocean' photos only in the OCEAN section... now isn't that special? (Add smiley face here)

Some points of interest in the above layout: Bellevue Avenue & the Breakers (Vanderbilt) Mansion in Newport, and Prescott's Headquarters in Portsmouth

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunset in Tiverton

I'm really not that great at taking sunset photos. Actually, truth be known, sometimes I think my iPhone takes better sunset shots than my DSLR. (Perhaps it would help if I would learn to use the manual modes instead of always shooting auto. But then I'd probably miss every shot, setting it all up.)

We just got back from a weekend trip to Rhode Island to see friends, and last night after dinner, our friend Leon told me to look outside at the sunset. (They live directly across the street from the Sakonnet River, which is part of the Narragansett Bay.)  The sunset was stunning, so I grabbed my camera, walked across the street, and shot a bunch of pictures with both my camera and iPhone.
I thought you might like to see a few of them:

This one was taken with my iPhone. I actually think in this case, the regular camera photos look better. But the phone pics are pretty decent.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Throwback Thursday- 1968

If you remember, I occasionally post a little illustration I do of myself as a young person, back in the 1960s, with one of my favorite outfits! You can read about earlier fashion statements here and here.

So, since I was more or less a California hippie during those years, I thought you might like to see my favorite outfit of 1968.  Here it is!

Don't you love that groovy peasant top? The John Lennon glasses?  The patched jeans with psychedelic bell bottoms? The fringed leather purse? How about the fun leather sandals and the woven leather headband? Far out, right?  And of course, I'm carrying my favorite LP of the era- the Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow.  Yes, indeed, I was truly a California Flower Child.

What? Today isn't Thursday? It's Tuesday? And what else is it?

You're right!


Are you serious? I never dressed like that. Ok, maybe I had a pair of groovy John Lennon glasses with purple lenses, and I'm pretty sure I wore patched jeans. I had some sandals pretty much just like those. But the rest of it?  No way! I wasn't that groovy.  Had you going, didn't I?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Rainy Day in New York

Yesterday I spent a lovely, tiring and wet day in the city. I took the train to Penn Station, and trudged uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to meet my friend Heidi for lunch. Heidi lives in North Carolina, and was in town for a couple of days with her daughter Kirsten, for an orchestra trip. They brought the kids to the Big City to see a couple of Broadway plays, go to a few museums, and attend a concert of the New York Philharmonic. Heidi had a little free time between engagements, so we arranged to meet and catch up on all the news.

So, I found myself hurrying to the Met, dodging raindrops, and pulling out my camera every few feet in Central Park as I hurried toward the museum. It was a fun walk watching runners and walkers, horse-drawn carriages covered with black slickers, and tourists huddled under umbrellas.  I found Heidi and Kirsten at the museum, and I was invited to take the charter bus with them from the museum to the theater district, where we found a nice place to enjoy a leisurely lunch and chat about what's going on in our lives.

After lunch, I walked with the group to the theater where they were to see Les Miserables, and after parting ways, I meandered around Times Square for awhile, spending a bit of time in the big Toys R Us store. Times Square was crazy, I couldn't believe how many people were out on the streets in the pouring rain. Umbrellas were bumping against umbrellas.

Eventually I had had enough... feet and legs aching, I walked the few blocks back to Penn Station, and caught the train for home.  Here are a few other photos of my day:

Street musician in Penn Station

Horse-drawn carriage ready for the rain

A Zamboni doing its work at the Wollman Ice Rink in Central Park

The Dairy in Central Park

Statue of Balto in Central Park

Metropolitan Museum of Art



Times Square

Giant T-Rex at Toys R Us

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Ladder

Note the closet hooks from Ikea. 

The original ladder coat rack
Do you remember my little ladder project back in January? I'll refresh your memory! I'd been wanting a coat rack for our apartment for over a year, and searched high and low for something affordable and fun. So I used an old ladder I scavenged to create a unique coat rack. You can read all about it here.

Since Spring is here (so to speak), I thought it was high time I transformed that wintry rack into something pretty and springy!  So, I took a little shopping trip. First stop was the dollar store, where I found some tin pots with handles, and some greenery. I spent about $6.  Then my next stop was Ikea, where I found more greenery and some awesome hooks that worked perfectly.  My original idea was to tie the handles of the pots to the ladder rungs with some hemp twine, but they kept swinging back against the wall. With the clip, the added length made the pots rest against the rung below. I thought about using real plants for my display, but the area where this is displayed gets almost no natural light, so I opted for artificial. Looks cute, no?

Here are some more shots of my project!

This little green pot was something I already had- probably from the dollar store. Flowers from Ikea.

I think a few more pots would look cute, right?

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