Wonders and Illusions

Several Wednesdays back, I took a train into Philadelphia with my youngest son’s significant life-affirming other. She had picked three destinations for us: Wonderspaces, the Museum of Illusions, and a fabulous little eatery called 3Js Café at 317 Market Street, for lunch.

To say we had a great time (except for the unseasonable 87-degree weather) would be an understatement. Our first stop after the train ride from Lansdale to Jefferson Street was Wonderspaces (https://philadelphia.wonderspaces.com), a series of art installations. A waiver had to be signed before our arrival, due to certain uses of light, etc., which could affect those with neurological disorders. I avoided several displays for this reason. Some of the installations might have been equally at home in the Museum we visited after lunch, like Radiance. My two favorites, and I say two because I cannot make up my mind which should come out on top, were Fuji by Joanie Lemercier, which is a part of the artist’s series on volcanoes, and On a Human Scale by Matthew Matthew, an interactive instrument involving images of people and a souped-up harpsichord. A close second is Radiance (Infinity Box No. 6) by Matt Elson. Rather than describe them, I have included some photographs below. However, finding myself so “interactive” with On a Human Scale, I unfortunately took neither photograph or video. I will amend this post in the future to include the videos I took of Fuji and Radiance. You can view photos, descriptions and further information on Wonderspaces website (above).

Amended: Here is a YouTube video Lauren found for On a Human Scale:

We hurried on through the godawful heat (for April, yes, it was AWFUL) to eat lunch at 3Js (https://www.3jscafephilly.com). The café is small in size, but not in flavor. Lauren chose it because she knows how much I love omelets, and they do have their breakfast selections all day, along with great sandwiches, salads, and more. All the walking had made me ravenous, and the plate set before me satisfied my appetite. Delicious.

An omelet with fresh spinach, sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes, a touch of cheese and the most scrumptious potatoes on the side.

Afterward, we walked a short distance to the Museum of Illusions (https://moiphilly.com). This contained similar warnings for those with seizure disorders, etc., but no waiver required. When we first entered, I was overwhelmed by the noisy children, but really, I couldn’t blame them for their boisterous exuberance. This old lady got a bit exuberant herself. There were numerous and frankly unbelievable illusions to be created by the placement of one’s body, the mirrors on hand, or the distances between one element and another and a person’s line of sight. Such fun to be had for young and, yeah, old.  

My favorite!

Oh, and on our way from one destination to another, we stopped to check out a carefully protected archeological dig right on the city street. This prompted our decision to return to Philadelphia in the not-too-distance future, this time to the Penn Museum of Archeology. I can’t wait! 😊

Aging and the ‘old’ word

I had a reminder on Facebook of a post I made a year ago today. Here it is:

So, I went to the grocery store yesterday and was stopped by an old guy sitting on the bench outside. He asked me if I thought I was going to go grocery shopping. I said, “That was the plan, why?” He asked me if I noticed the condition of the parking lot. I said yes, and I figured it was my lucky day. No crowds. He went on to explain that the store had lost power and they weren’t letting anyone in. He was waiting though, because he’d already been back twice. He offered for me to join him on the bench. I thanked him and headed on home instead. The point of this story? The very first sentence: I was stopped by an old guy. An OLD guy? In retrospect, I’m pretty darned sure he was MY age. *sigh*

I say to myself, did I not learn ANYTHING from this experience? Because I still do it. Still say, that old person, that old guy, that old lady. As a descriptor, I suppose it works, but in terms of respecting age, a long life lived, I suspect it falls short. At the very least, it’s high time I recognized the gray in my own head.

Except I don’t want to. Not because I have a problem with aging. I look back on my life so far, all I’ve seen and accomplished, big and small, significant and mundane, societal and personal, and I find immense satisfaction in it. Even so, I don’t feel old. Not mentally, not emotionally, sometimes not even physically. So why not carry on with my head held high and my hand on my aching back and take heart in the fact I am still on this earth?

To be honest, I do. My only problem is calling other people old who are, in fact, just like me, carrying on, learning, enjoying each day, each other, marveling at all they’ve experienced through the years.

I might have to put a rubber band on my wrist, like people fighting addictions sometimes do. Snap it every time I am tempted to let the word ‘old’ come out of my mouth.

Might I suggest you check back this time next year, if curiosity calls you? Let’s see if I can say ‘lesson learned’. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do as we grow older, right? Learn from life?

Fingers crossed and rubber band in place.

Words to Live By

It’s odd, but so often you come across quotes from writers, artists, other individuals who spend a great deal of time in thought, and you find those quotes meaningful. Helpful. Thought-provoking. Inspiring. I’ve started posting some of those quotes on Instagram, to share them with others, and on Facebook, too.

This was one from today, which I put onto a royalty-free photo from pexels.com. The photographer’s name is Yaroslav Shuraev. I found myself as inspired by the photo as by the quote. I think I might print this out to hang on my wall so I can see it every day.

Small Batch? Splendid!

Last weekend, my eldest son drove me around for some errand running. It was quite a bit past lunch time and we were contemplating whether we should stop and grab something or head home. Well, by chance (not really by chance, I insisted we head over that way) we pulled into the parking lot for Hometown Creamery over on Gravel Pike in East Greenville—Pennsylvania, for those who aren’t familiar. We’d both been talking about checking it out. Not a place for lunch, as far as I could tell, but, hey, you gotta live a little, right?

Egads, try live a lot, especially if you’re an ice cream lover.

In high anticipation, we exited my son’s vehicle and strode up to the front door of a building that has been many things over time, but which now houses, as the sign indicates, Hometown Creamery – Small Batch Ice Cream – Donuts – More. Like I said, not exactly a place for lunch. Definitely a place to satisfy a sweet tooth in the most wonderful way.

We paused beneath the green awning, glanced at the store hours, agreed we were skipping lunch after all and going straight to dessert, and went inside. Oh my. Oh, oh, oh my.

It’s a wide-open area upon entry (I believe all the seating is outside on park-type benches and an umbrellaed picnic table or two, but I may be mistaken—might have to go back again to check and, yeah, get some more ice cream) with a very friendly young woman directly ahead at the register. She instructed us with a smile to go to our left where we would await our turn to order. We happily complied, perusing the menu of delights with mouths open and an occasional swipe at drool.

I ended up after much indecision getting myself a fudge brownie with chocolate ice cream sundae, complete with whipped cream and maraschino cherries (I did say we hadn’t had lunch, didn’t I?) and my son had something called Tootie-Fruity with more words to follow. I can’t remember them right now. I have a feeling I was way too concerned with my own choice.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take this picture until I’d scarfed down a good bit of it!

Initially, and why I had delayed in trying out this wonderful new establishment, was a fear the ice cream would be stale. That happens sometimes in places where the flavors that don’t get eaten sit awhile. No such worries here. They mix their specialty ice creams in small batches, ensuring freshness every time. Add to that the wonderful creaminess, the sweetness, the OMG goodness and a rather old-time atmosphere, and, well, can you say ‘hooked’?

I’ll definitely be going back. In fact, once we’d finished our delectable, small-batch, ahem, lunches, I did return inside to take pictures for this blog. What I hadn’t noticed the first time around (due to my hyper-focus on the ice cream) was the long table covered with baskets of old-fashioned individual candies (nostalgia, anyone?) and the refrigerator filled with other dairy delights.

So, people, if you’re fans of ice cream, especially fans of the best darned small batch ice cream, head on over! It’s worth the trip, even if you’re not around the corner.

You can also check them out on their Facebook page (which I looked up) at: facebook.com/hometowncreamerypa

Happy eating!

Again, with the peonies?

Of course. I love my peonies. I’m probably boring everyone with photos of peonies, but every year they fill the air with the most wondrous fragrance and the blooms grow more abundantly each season. I love the ethereal look of them, the way the ants industriously get them to bloom, the delicate, soft feel, the way they sit in a container so prettily… Okay, enough already, right?

I can’t help it. I love my peonies. And I guess they’re not really mine. They’re nature’s peonies, but they happen to reside in my garden.

This magenta variety has a different scent then the others, a much lighter one, but still nice.
I set them outside on the porch so I could brush the ants away as they appeared, then brought the bouquet inside to place on the windowsill.

Rainy Days and Fridays

I know the song is Rainy Days and Mondays, but it happened to be a rainy Friday when these pictures were taken. I walked around in a rain that had turned to mist, noting how green the plants have all become, how lush the ferns, how the droplets clung to the surfaces, especially the hosta’s broad leaves. The shade garden looks a bit like a secret world calling to me.

hostas have a way of thriving, even these that get more sunshine than they used to since the tree once shading them is no longer standing
the ferns weren’t this lush last year – I could hide in them now
an inviting path

Procrastination? Maybe later.

There was a time in my life when I never put off until tomorrow what I could do today. In fact, it drove me a bit nuts to put off until tomorrow. Perhaps that is why I found myself so productive, completing projects, working full-time at my day job, writing at night, crafting and keeping up with the house and garden. Whew. Makes me tired just reading that sentence.

Then things happened. First, there was an accident that required two surgeries to my arm. Plans changed. I couldn’t do everything I wanted to with one arm, although I tried. Believe me, I tried. Still, I was forced to prioritize. When my garden went to heck in a hand basket, I had to suck it up. Not that I did. I railed against the state of it constantly in my head and occasionally out of it, but really, I did have to suck it up, tell myself that later I would get to it. The same went for my crafting. Painting pictures was, well, out of the picture. I continued to work with one hand and taught myself to physically write with the left during this time, but then, my day job wasn’t something I could put off. It had to be done. Putting off the rest was the first step toward being a procrastinator.

Wasn’t it?

Then the second, and worse, thing happened a couple years later. Injured in a motor vehicle accident, my brain stopped functioning the way had I gotten used to it behaving for all the years my brain and I have been acquainted. This went way beyond my previous temporary physical disability. My brain was letting me down left and right and in the beginning I couldn’t even get angry about it, because I couldn’t hold a cognitive thought long enough to maintain that emotion. I was scared though. Plenty scared. That popped up quite frequently.

Three years have passed since that awful day, and I am doing much better. Still not where I was, and perhaps I never will be again, but definitely better. And yet, I’m still a procrastinator. What happened to that “do it now or kick yourself in the ass for not” attitude? I’m thinking maybe priorities have now changed to the point where I can’t get them back. That makes sense, I suppose. Or maybe I need to write down my plans for the day on a note (which I had to do in detail for quite a while—did I abandon that practice too soon?) so I can check off each thing as I do it, reminders staring me in the face.

Or maybe I’m just tired.

Take my blogging for instance. I made a non-New Year’s resolution to keep up with it, to at least complete that short form of writing twice weekly. I do so love to write (I’ve even gotten back to long form writing, but not the huge chunks I used to do while working full-time, taking care of the house and garden, crafting, painting, etc., that I managed before—I mean, I finished three novels in an eight-month period for Kensington while working full-time, taking care of the house and garden, and, yeah, all the rest). I actually blogged about my blogging plans not much more than a month ago and yet here I am, having gone a week and a half without so much as a peep. The ideas are there, the will is there, but there’s a disconnect these days between thinking about something and following through with action.

Put it off, my dear, put it off, get to it later.

Is that actually what I’m doing? I don’t know. I’ll figure it out tomorrow.

Country Road

I live on a country road. I once prepared a photo essay about this road for submission to a magazine because, to me, it represents a great deal of the beauty to be found in Lehigh County, all on one and a half miles of narrow, curving asphalt. One can find woods and farm land and history, the latter embodied in a one-room schoolhouse, a more than two-hundred year old mill, a structure from the eighteen hundreds that housed a little general store for many years, several more homes that date back to this country’s beginnings, as well as some truly magnificent trees that have been here through it all. There once existed an ice dam, damming up the Hosensack to flood the small valley. Ice blocks would be cut from it in the winter and shipped on railroad cars to the city. It is rumored part of that dam is on my property, and I believe I have glimpsed its shape beneath the undergrowth in the wooded section. One day I suppose I will take a shovel and explore the possibilities, but I’ve always been content, somehow, in leaving the history at peace.

Wildflowers grow naturally along the shoulder-less road. Mailboxes line one side for the rural delivery. In the growing season, corn tassels wave in the sun, heaps of soybeans cover the earth. Creatures such as deer, wild turkeys, coyote, foxes, hawks and vultures and owls are sighted regularly. Domestic animals are raised in lesser quantities on gentle pasturage. A little side street with an older community ending in a cul-de-sac exists to one side, but the rest is as it’s been for a very long time. Even my home has been here since the middle of the past century and feels like part of the history.

Recently, though, the next road over had to be closed for emergency bridge repairs. Being an emergency, there was no notice and no contingency plan for the traffic that travels along that wider road with its painted lines, straighter runs and somewhat greater speed limit.

Need I say more? Probably not, but I will. Drivers used to the convenience of that other road with its straighter runs and painted lines and somewhat greater speed limit have taken to using this road without any adjustment in attitude or consciousness to the fact they are NOT traveling that other road to which they have become so comfortably accustomed.

Those rural mailboxes I previously mentioned? Crossing the street to retrieve the mail has become a hair-raising endeavor. Fortunately, on this whole stretch, there are only three of us who actually have to do so. Everyone else lives on the mailbox side of the road.

As to daily constitutionals for health and enjoyment? Well, my neighbor has resorted to driving over to the closed road in order to walk safely now. I am not sure what the others are doing. I walk in the yard.

The noise prevents me from recording my podcast, because the room from which I do it is only about twenty-five feet from what was once a quiet country road, and the increased number of vehicles passing by at well over the speed limit can be heard in the background. I tried to record between vehicles in my last podcast. If one listens carefully, you can hear the rush to finish sentences before the car I hear coming gets close enough to become part of the soundtrack. I’m giving it another try, though, and hoping for the best.

As I have said, the road is narrow and possesses more than one blind curve. It has a posted speed limit of twenty-five miles per hour for justifiable reasons. There are occasional drop-offs that could come as a nasty surprise to drivers careening their vehicles past each other in opposite directions at speeds that are not only unnecessary but unsafe. And really, don’t get me started on those idiots staring down at their cell phones while they maneuver speeding hunks of metal. Yes, I’ve seen them, now that I have to wait for an extended period before I can cross the road to get my mail.

This all sounds very disheartening, I’m sure, but I have confidence that—eventually—the bridge on the other road will be repaired (although there is no timeframe to be had from the authorities) and that quiet will once again reign on this lovely stretch of road epitomizing Lehigh County’s natural beauty and wondrous history.

Not holding my breath, though. But I am eyeballing the chain saw and some strategically located trees that might need a little pruning. Can you say roadblock?

Just kidding.

For now.