Sunday, June 29, 2014

Psalm 33:11 – Whose advice do you turn to when making decisions? This verse from the Psalms is correct: the Lord’s counsel stands forever. It would make sense to take some time, today, to find a quiet place where you can put your situation before the Lord, and then wait, listening, for the Lord’s advice for you. This is a Wekivaword.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood...

So the Senior Tour is at Fox Chapel Golf Club, and so lunchtime today, Judy and I were back in the old neighborhood, watching the tournament (yes) but even more so that we could visit the familiar scenes of Fox Chapel, where we lived and where I worked for a decade when our children were young.

It is fun to point out landmarks, long shots of Downtown, as well as local features like Fox Chapel Road and Powers Run Road, or more specifically, "Martha and Bob's house" and other homes of Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church members, some of which are visible through the verdant landscape. We also scanned the edges of the crowds and believe we saw several good FCPC Presbyterians and other dear friends out there volunteering their help with the tournament logistics. It is a busy day, not only for the members of the Golf Club, but also the Field Club, Oakmont and Longue Vue, all of whom pitch in to help make big events like this one a success.

So many happy memories are wrapped up in seeing the Golf Club—where we spent some wonderful Christmas parties with Speed and Dee and their extended family, joined in with scores of brides and grooms as they celebrated their weddings, met for lunches to plan events at the church, gathered for dinner in celebration of my doctorate thanks to Dee and Speed and Dorothy, and were welcomed back with a festive party after being in Florida for some years by Dave and Christine and their family… Such wonderful times!

It is a cool day in Fox Chapel, per the commentators, and so as perfectly lovely of a summer's day as one hopes for in June in Pennsylvania. I have included a few photos, shall we say for nostalgia's sake.

Yesterday's Storm

Just before five last night, daughter Anne sent me a text from home, saying, "Dad, when you come home, enter by the far end of the street, there's a tree down at the corner." And so it was.

Not sure whether there was a tornado or a microburst, but it hit with a wallop, taking down one of the two big water oaks that have stood at the entrance to our street for lo these many years. When we ventured outside to see the damage, we were very glad that no car had been driving along Wekiva Trail as the tree went down, because it could have been disastrous.

As it was, the tree was a big one, and extended all the way across both lanes of the Trail. So no one was getting past it there. On top of that, our end of the half circle that makes up Coble Drive was also impassable.

We looked into the hole where the tree had so recently stood and were amazed that it was just a hole, no roots to speak of. These water oaks have very shallow root systems, nothing to "ground" them if a gust of wind comes along. I think there is a sermon in there somewhere...

The authorities were wonderful and there all evening, the police directing traffic and the fire department hacking away at the old tree till room could be made for the road to be passable again.

Our two dogs, Brantley and Watson, who are never flusterd wiht ordinary storms, must have heard the whole thing. They were quite agitated all evening, spending most of it hiding in the smallest room in the house or the hallway next to it, with worried expressions on both of their faces.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Blimp! The Blimp!

Looking at our area on Google Maps, yesterday, I was following a route in "Satellite" view, between our house and Bear Lake.

When I virtually turned the corner from State Route 436 on to Bear Lake Road, there was this big object in the view that I did not expect to see. It was across the street from the very sketchy looking Shell station. (Has anyone besides me wondered just what is wrong with the people that have that Shell station? In recent months it has gone extremely downhill). Indeed, between the flimsy bright orange and yellow fence, the "hand wash" car wash, and the pumps that move so slowly you could go to Texas, get the gas youself, and be back again before your tank is full, I will not go there ever again. Frankly, the place gives me the creeps.

But I digress.

On the opposite corner stands a 7-11 store. Which I could see (mostly) in the satellite view of it. But it was partly obscured by something in the air above the store. It was...a blimp! Yes, in fact it is the Metlife Blimp. You can see it in this photo and you can just about read the logo.

If you go to Google Maps right now, you can see it even better if you make it a bit larger, which it was when I was following my route.

I like this for so many reasons.

There are any number of sites on line where you can see things that were inadvertently captured on Google maps. I checked around and I think I may be the first person to notice this "Blimp Capture". (There are others). So, kudos to me!

I am sure that the camera that was recording our portion of Florida for Google was not particular about what it did or did not photograph. And had no idea that on that day, at that very moment, the blimp would be far below it, hovering over the Forest City area. Well there it is! And there it will stay until Google decides to update our area. So it was not planned. So much of life is unplanned, unscripted, and therefore a surprise. Pleasant, as in this case, or otherwise.

I hope you have a Blimp-worthy moment today--when you see something new and it is a pleasant surprise that brings a bit of joy to your heart.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Americus, Georgia

It was four summers ago that Judy and I took a planned relaxing drive from here to Birmingham, Alabama, in order to attend and lead a workshop at the annual meeeting of The Hymn Society.

We wanted to see some of the sights along the way, rather than hurry at breakneck speed, and so we stopped here and there. Some time ago I posted on the blog some of what we saw when we went to Americus, Georgia. Later, those posts were taken down, when I was informed that I had maxed out my photo space on the blog.

So when Anne asked me to write about Americus for "Drive the Nation" I was glad to recall some of what we saw and did, and add to it some of what I wish we could have done--chief among the wish-we-could was to have attended a Sunday School Class taught by Jimmy Carter. To read my article on "Drive the Nation" click the link below:


Lancaster County PA

Lancaster County is where I grew up, from grades seven through high school, and where I called home thorugh college, architectural work, and seminary, from 1967 unitl 1982. It is still a home-place for me, even though we have not made a visit back since my parents moved south to live near us here in Central Florida almost seven years ago.

When you live in a place that is so filled with history for such a long time, you not only learn to love its most familiar features, you also have a few out of the way places that become very dear to your heart. So when daughter Anne asked me to write an artcile for "Drive the Nation" about the hidden gems of Lancaster County, I was glad for the opportunity.

It occured to me that the county with Lancaster city at the center, is like the hub of a wheel, and that the main roads in and out of the city are like spokes of the wheel. So that was my starting point for how a visitor might explore some of those hidden gems.

Today, my article went "live" and I am glad to point you in that direction: HIDDEN GEMS OF LANCASTER COUNTY

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dulles vs. National – The Inside Scoop

So you are routed through DC on your next air travel for business or for (if you will excuse the word) pleasure. Air travel may once have been a pleasure, but no longer. We all know the reasons why we have the tedious but necessary scrutiny at security, but why in the world the airlines feel we would enjoy the modern day equivalent of getting through Ellis Island is way beyond me. Give me a car and the open road any day. But as I say you may have to fly and your flight may take you through DC and if so, here are a few things I learned about that, very recently…

There are essentially two airports to choose from – Dulles or National. Yes Baltimore-Washington is a contender but for this post’s purposes we are sticking with the two that are the most closely associated with Our Nation’s Capital. Here goes…

Dulles Airport outside of Washington DC was conceived as a showplace gateway to our nation's capital in the mod glam 1960s jet-set era. The main terminal building by architect Eero Saarinen with its soaring structure (added on to at least once) that is a bit of a modern take on the Lincoln Memorial, is still able to inspire. From a distance. However that is where Dulles' charm begins and ends.

The airport was famous for its “mobile lounges” when built. The idea being that you can find your way into a room sized vehicle with ordinary lounge chairs, sit down, and let the airport people drive you over to your gate with style and grace. Well style and grace have left the building.

The “mobile lounges” still lurk about like nearly extinct species, but Dulles has become an overgrown overcrowded and poorly planned rabbit warren of halls and gates with no apparent concern for the people who fly. It may work well for the pilots, crews and ground-crews (we doubt it) but it does not work at all for poor ordinary people like you and like I.

Today, Dulles is dull, dimly-lighted and notable for a superabundance of long dreary hallways some underground and some above ground connected by a plethora of escalators. Indeed, the misguided architects who created this steeplechase of upstairs downstairs should be doomed to schlep overstuffed carry-on luggage through Dulles for all eternity. The subterranean tunnels and jerky trams have superseded most all of the mobile lounges. These boot camp worthy obstacle courses between gates will add to any traveler’s stressed and harried state of being.

United maintains a major hub at Dulles. Actually it does not maintain its hub. Believe me when I tell you that their decor is characterized by two words: Tired and Dirty. The walls are the shade of ancient battleships set out for mothballs. The gray and blue carpet has been certified as a good place for vast colonies of international contagions to breed with carefree abandon. If the carpet has ever been shampooed, it was probably during the Reagan administration. United at Dulles has this distinction: They put the “ugh” in ugly.

National Airport (named for President Ronald Reagan) is situated on the banks of the Potomac River in plain view of all of the national monuments and governmental buildings that comprise Washington, DC. The airport is older than Dulles, but you would not guess that from its appearance inside which is distinctly modern, up-to-date, bright, cheerful and colorful. Argentine architect César Pelli designed the new terminals of the airport; it is a job well done.

The airport is not huge but it is not tiny. To help people get around there are shuttles, which are in fact busses, which will take you from one gate area to another. These do not pretend to be space age, they are just busses. But they move at a regular clip on a regular schedule and save schlepping time. The only drawback we would mention is that if you are not stair-worthy, you may find the process unwieldy.

Our gate area happened to be in the 38-44 area at the end of one long hallway and it was laid out like the food court at the mall, with a central seating and food section complete with café style tables, and then the gate lounges on all four sides. This was convenient both for obtaining and eating our meal while we waited for our connection, and we could see the Capitol dome over the wing of one of the planes at the gate while we ate. The food, by the way, was above what you would expect to find at an airport—they are doing what they can to make the necessity of dining between planes a positive experience.

As one patron of both airports has said: "This airport is infinitely nicer and cleaner than Dulles." Exactly!

My two fellow travelers and I agreed, avoid Dulles in future, and stick with National. We recommend you do the same.

Webster Park, Webster, NY

Where Mill Creek empties into Lake Ontario there is a small park, called Webster Park. It is about eight miles from Donna's house, and was among the places Anne selected for things to see around Rochester this past Friday. The park has a spacious parking lot in what looks to be a field, bordered by a narrow grassy beach, and then the Lake.

From your car, a short stroll over the wooden bridge at the mouth of Mill Creek takes you to a concrete embankment and jetty, all of which you can see in these photos.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The High Falls of the Genesee - Rochester, NY

When Anne proposed that we see the High Falls of the Genesee, I had no idea what to expect. What we found was a larger waterfall than we might have imagined, indeed, if Niagara were not so near, we believe that the High Falls would be more of an attraction that it is. When looking at a popular trip planning side that gives advice on what to see (notice I did not mention the name but you can easily surmise it), this particular attraction was listed as 21. It should be in the top five for the Rochester area. I will not comment further except to post photos so you can see what we saw.

I am told that the height of the High Falls of the Genesee is about 96 feet. The height of Niagara is about 167 feet. So that gives you some sense of the imensity of this often overlooked falls. Why not plan to look them over, next time you are in upstate New York!

High Falls Historic District - Rochester, New York

If you were asked to quickly name two large companies that have long been associated with Rochester New York, I am guessing you would have Kodak and Genesee Brewery on your short list. The High Falls Historic District where we spent part of Friday morning is sandwiched in between the Kodak tower and the Genesee plant, and also between them is the Bridge des Rennes connecting the two.

This first set of photos was made on the West side of the bridge, which is what we saw first when we went to explore the area. Anne's purpose was to garner information for some future article for "Drive the Nation". It was also fascinating to me to see some of the history both natural and architectural, of Rochester...

After the Airport...The Boynton House

On Friday, I took Judy to the Rochester Airport early in the morning. Emphasis on the word early. For her flight to Tri-Cities so that she could rejoin the 2014 Senior High Mission Trip. On the way to the airport, Judy was my navigator. And she is quite the good navigator.

On the way home, I was on my own. At some point I missed a turn, or maybe I took a turn I should not have taken, and ended up on the part of the interstate that goes right through downtown Rochester. I thought I could figure my way back to Webster from there, but then thought better of it, and took an exit on the East side of town. When I stopped in a pretty neighborhood of older homes, something about it said to me, "You have been here before." It was only then I remembered when we were in New York eleven years ago to celebrate Mike's 50th birthday, we had also gone past the Boynton House, a large showplace of a 1908 Prairie Style house by Frank Lloyd Wright, recently restored to perfect condition by its current owners. Yes, it remains a private residence.

So before I punched in the coordinates for getting back to the motel where we were staying, I looked up the address of the Boynton House and lo and behold, it was three blocks from where I was parked. Naturally, I did that three block detour and made a few early morning photos. Emphasis on the word early. The sun was just coming up over the house, and so it is back lighted. Even so, worth the detour. I was back at the motel before 8:30 by the way.

Donna's Flowers

The last place Mike was before he went to be with the Lord was on the deck in his back yard. A peaceful, beautiful setting, surrounded by spruce trees. Upstate New York is beautiful in June, and Donna had made their deck a very pretty and relaxing place, with some beautiful flowers that were still in bloom there when we returned after the memorial service.
Here are reminders of God's love and care for us, as whispered to us by some of Donna's flowers...