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Saturday, October 19, 2013

I love Ghost Signs

My friend Cynthia's latest post over at Flotsam of the Mind has a wonderful photo of an old sign in the town one over from ours. That got me thinking about how much I love signs, and particularly how much I love ghost signs. 

According to Wikipedia a Ghost Sign is "old hand-painted advertising signage that has been preserved on a building for an extended period of time. The signage may be kept for its nostalgic appeal, or simply indifference by the owner." The Wikipedia article has more fascinating information that I didn't know -- I'd just appreciated these signs as being visually and historically interesting. Here are some other tidbits about them:

  • They are found cross the world with the US, UK, France and Canada having many surviving examples.
  • They are also called fading ads and brick ads.
  • In many cases these are advertisements painted on brick that remained over time.
  • They are occasionally discovered upon demolition of later-built adjoining structures
  • Many from the 1890s to 1960s are still visible
  • These signs were most commonly used in the decades before the Great Depression
  • The sign painters were called wall dogs
  • As signage advertising formats changed, less durable signs appeared in the later 20th century and ghost signs from this era are less common.
Now that you know more than you've ever wanted to know about these signs. Here are some of my photos of these ghost signs. All of these photos are from downtown Athens, Georgia, unless otherwise noted.

This is now an Art School building at the Univ. of GA

Lowell, MA
For comparison: modern billboard sign in Montreal, Canada

This sign from Montreal is not a ghost sign, but I liked it because it looks like it's painted and old. Do any of you love signs? Or is it just Cynthia and I?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Radney Foster and the story behind "Godspeed"

My husband just sent me an e-mail (yes, he's in the next room over in our house, but often we communicate best via written words!). Anyway, he tells me that the song "Godspeed" made popular by the Dixie Chicks and featured in my previous post, is actually written by singer songwriter Radney Foster who just happens to be one of my husband's favorite artists as the moment. I've heard many of his songs and didn't know who I was listening too. My husband is a "collector" of music and has so many artists and songs that I don't usually know who we are listening to as he usually chooses the music -- and I'm fine with this since we have similar tastes and it's one less decision for me to make.

Anyway, I digress. Radney Foster wrote "Godspeed" for his son to listen to and remember him by when his then three year old son moved far away to France with his mother, Foster's ex-wife. Now, that I know the story behind the song I love it even more. You might want to check our other Radney Foster songs. My current favorite is called "Angel Flight" and it's about the men who died in the mission "Red River 44"in Iraq in which seven Texas National Guardsmen died when their Chinook helicopter crashed outside Tallil, Iraq.


"Good Night Moon" Memories, and the Meaning of Life

My friend Ashley's blog is so well-written, funny, real and poignant that I may just give up posting anything on here. All of her posts are worth reading, but today's brought tears to my eyes and I want to share it with any of you that might be reading this.

Her blog is Baddest Mother Ever and the post is: Good Night Moon

I have tears in my eyes because I love that book, and loved reading it to Emma when she was little, and missed reading it to Sam when he was little -- and because the Dixie Chicks song "Godspeed" which was playing a lot right after we lost Sam has these words:

                                                     "Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)"

Dragon tales and the "water is wide"
Pirate's sail and lost boys fly
Fish bite moonbeams every night
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams

The rocket racer's all tuckered out
Superman's in pajamas on the couch
Goodnight moon, will find the mouse
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams

God bless mommy and match box cars
God bless dad and thanks for the stars
God hears "Amen," wherever we are
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams

All of yesterday's and today's annoyances are gone and I've been brought back to the essence of life -- the real meaning of life -- which is God, and people, and love.  It's not about adolescent girls who are finding their way and can be mean, it's not about water in the basement and broken water heaters, it's not about being at the bottom of the pecking order at your Law Firm job. 

Well, that's it -- enough said. Best wishes to you all today. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Six Word Story : Powerful and Concise

I'm writing this morning with tears in my eyes. I'm taking an online scrapbook course at Big Picture Classes by Ali Edwards called "Hello Story" where every week she is sharing a method or approach to telling your stories -- using what she calls story structures. Well this week's structure is telling a story in 6 words. It's based on Smith Magazine's Six Word Memoir Project. Ali also mentioned a challenge that was presented to Ernest Hemingway to write a short story in just 6 words. Here's the story he wrote and those of you who know me well will understand why it made me cry and run off to find Jim for a hug.

For Sale.
Baby Shoes.
Never Worn.

Jim and I lost our second child, Sam, who was stillborn at 38 weeks. It's been over eleven years now since Sam died and we don't talk about it all that much, but every now and then something like this will come up and get us/me thinking about him. Right now I understand what is meant by the expression, Heartache.

Turns out I'm having a Hemingway Summer. My book group read A Farewell to Arms for our June meeting. I'd read this in High School but apparently didn't remember much about it -- I certainly didn't remember that his "wife" had a stillborn baby and died at the end of the book. Then again, that would not have registered with me at all in High School -- I'm sure I though that those things only happened to people way back at the beginning of the 19th century. (Actually that's what I thought until we lost Sam) In fact the final birth scene in the book is a perfect fusion of my two birth experiences: a complicated delivery with an emergency C-section (Emma) and then a stillborn baby (Sam). Then we read The Paris Wife for our July meeting -- which is a fictionalized story of Hemingway' first wife and their time together in Paris in the twenties. And now this very short story.

Enough said. We are both off work today, Emma is at ECC camp and are going to explore Wickford -- a small village/town on the Narragansett Bay in North Kingstown, and then a trip to stock up on supplies at Trader Joe's.

Thanks for listening/reading.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Claiming my Blog on Bloglovin

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Singing Patriotic songs with the Nuns on the beach

I've been spending a week or two at the beach in Stone Harbor, NJ every year for the past 29 years and no Summer would be complete without a trip to the Jersey Shore. My Mom has a house here on 110th street one block from the Nun's Beach which gets its name because it is next to the a very large house called Villa Maria by the Sea -- a Summer retreat for the order Immaculata IHM. Since the beach at 110th is a surfers only beach we always walk a block up the beach to 111th to swim at the Nun's beach. One of my absolute favorite things about spending 4th of July here is that the Nun's lead a patriotic sing-a-long together with the life guards. This year was no exception. The festivities began with some Nun's handing out American flags while the life guards, dressed up for the 4th, corralled swimmers out of the water to join the fun. Then a Nun led a short prayer for all of our armed service members serving across the seas, followed by the Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Next we all sang "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful" and concluded with saying Hip Hip Hurray for the USA several times. I can't imagine anywhere else that has such a unique way of celebrating the Fourth. I know it's my favorite place to be.

I'm certainly grateful for my freedom and for those who have guaranteed it for me over the years. Wishing you all a great Fourth of July.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Celebrating Summer's Start with a week in Snow Hill

School finally let out just as Summer officially started so we headed south from Rhode Island to spend a week visiting with my Dad and step-Mom at their home in Snow Hill, Maryland on the eastern shore. It was founded in 1686 and is the county seat of Worcester County whose most well known town is Ocean City, Maryland. It's full of history and has some wonderful old homes and churches. We prefer quiet Snow Hill which is several miles inland, from very busy and crowded Ocean City however. Today's entertainment was a local (three blocks down the street) estate auction that was held right in the garden of the house which was also auctioned. I hadn't been to an auction since I was a kid and it was new to Jim who had only ever been to a cattle auction in Tennessee (that sounds pretty cool to me though). I enjoyed listening to the auctioneer and people watching and checking everything out -- it was pretty much the contents of the house -- and of a life -- interesting, but also sobering. We ended up bidding on and buying a great print of the HMS Victory in 1878 for Jim to hang in his office at the Naval War College. We got it for way less than it would have cost to frame it for sure. We just lost out on a cool vintage fan as well.

Dad, Hazel and our friend Nan listening to the auctioneer
Old tricycle in bad shape, but someone bought it
Our purchase for Jim's office -- got for $22.50!
Auctioneer's truck
Auctioneer selling the larger furniture items -- traveling around to them
Assorted housewares
We left the auction before they were done -- it was just getting too hot. After lunch at home Emma, Dad and I ventured off to get some of the best ice cream anywhere -- at the Island Creamery in Chincoteague, Virginia -- just 20 miles away. The drive down back country roads was gorgeous today as all of the orange lillies are blooming alongside the wheat, corn and soybean fields. I wish I'd stopped to take some photos. I just love visiting down here -- seeing Dad and Hazel is great, but I love this town and countryside and slower pace of life. I've been coming here enough over the last ten years that I know people in town and they recognize me which adds to the small town charm. One more day here and Emma and I are off to the Jersey Shore and Jim is back to work in Rhode Island.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Celebrating another wonderful end of year Ballet/Dance Recital

Hagrid, Harry, and Dumledore taking their final bows.
This past weekend was recital weekend. We are all used to it and the crazy schedule, but this year was extra special because Emma had the lead in the story ballet portion of the recital. They did an adaptation of the first Harry Potter book and Emma has the role of Harry. On top of that she also danced with the other upper level ballet students in a production of Balanchine's Serenade. Then she had three separate dances for her jazz, tap and hip hop classes. She was one busy and very tired girl. She did a fabulous job and we are incredibly proud of her. I managed to get some good photos at the dress rehearsal on Friday that I will share below.

I really enjoyed sharing Emma's performance with my Mom, who was visiting from Maryland for the weekend, and with Emma's friend Ally and her Mom and sister, as well as my friend Jen and her daughter Grace.

At the end of the show on Sunday afternoon all of the dancers received ribbons for participating in the recital and the special annual awards were given out. These are new this year and we were thrilled that Emma received the Fossey Award for Best Jazz student. She has a trophy and everything!

I loved the Balanchine Serenade. I am particularly drawn to corps de ballet pieces with lots of combinations and formations where all the dancers work together. I also loved the costumes they wore for this piece -- one of my favorite colors. This work has been called the ballet that changed everything and was a tribute to Balanchine

Emma's hip hop class dance was to the Beyonce song "Who runs the world (Girls)".

The next number was for Tap. They danced to "Walk this Way'. I liked these costumes and thought Emma did a great job -- it was her first year taking Tap.

The last number of the first act was Emma's jazz class dance. They performed to "Le Jazz Hot" from Victor/Victoria.  The choreography was in the tradition of Bob Fossey.

The second act was Harry Potter -- featuring all the ballet students from the youngest Ballet Movement kids to the Level 7 High School kids.  The director of Emma's school, the Ballet Center, always does a terrific job working everyone in and delivering and actual story ballet and not just separate dances. The costumes were also particularly cool this year: from chess pieces, to flying keys.

Flying Keys

Platform 9 3/4
Flying class
Harry Potter dancing on pointe. 

The Ballet Movement students were Fluffy dogs -- instead of the 3 headed scary dog from the book

Ballet Level 3 did a great job with the chess game. They all had individually made and different chess piece hats.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Twenty Five Years and Counting

Tomorrow (June 11) Jim and I celebrate 25 years of married life together. It seems impossible that it's been that long. I don't feel old enough for one thing. It's been 25 wonderful years, many happy moments and our far share of challenges and tough times as well. One thing I know -- I wouldn't want to be on this journey without my other half. Happy Anniversary Sweetheart. Thanks to all of you who have shared this ride with us.

Jim and I met while studying in Germany Junior year in college. We were in Regensburg on the Vanderbilt in Germany program. Jim went to Vanderbilt and I went to Lafayette. This was taken on our trip to Berlin in front of the Berlin Wall, April 1986

Our wedding party, June 11, 1988
Navy Ball in Newport circa 1993?
Enjoying a lovely Summer day in Lexington, MA with Miss Emma, 2000
Visiting The Breakers in Newport, June 2009
New Year's Eve at The Palette in Snow Hill, MD  2010

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Photo Challenge Day #1: Self Portrait

My friend Cynthia over on her blog Flotsam of the Mind is hosting a 30 day photo challenge. I'm going to try and participate when I have time. Today's challenge was to take a self-portrait (I refuse to call these "Selfies"). I managed to take two today with my iPhone and they're not bad. Both pretty much capture what I look like. If I'd had more time I would have finally figured out how to use the timer on my DSLR but it's been a busy day. If you'd like to see Cynthia's self-portrait or read more about the challenge you can read more on her blog Flotsam of the Mind.  So, without further ado, here are my self-portraits:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Playing with my new 50mm Lens

Last Sunday my church, St John's Episcopal in Barrington, hosted our second annual Block Party. We had live music, kids games, hamburgers, hotdogs, popcorn and ice cream. The weather was perfect and believe it or not I wasn't on tap to actually do anything at the event so I brought along Chloe and my Nikon DSLR with it's relatively new 50mm lens -- and played around taking photos. I love this lense because it delivers such crisp photos and I have a lot of control over focus. I can also set the aperture as low as 1.4 which gives me really great shallow depth of field. Here are some of my favorites! Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Seen (and Photographed) in Newport

I took my DSLR and all my lenses on our trip to Newport yesterday and managed to capture a few cool artsy photos and some fun ones of Emma. I thought I'd share them here.

Emma took this one when the camera was on the wrong settings, but I thought it was kind of cool