Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Nearby Countryside

Farming and agriculture have always have always been strongly connected to me even though I wish that I knew a whole lot more about the subject than I do. My dad was farming when I was born but the winter of 1948 pretty much drove him out the business. I have always lived where agriculture was a vital part of the local economy. Whether food crops or other (trees, flowers, etc.) the local farm was not far away. Delaware is no different. In fact, Sussex County is very rural and dependent on agriculture. The main farm products are chickens, soy beans, wheat, barley and corn. What is so different for me is the size of the farming areas. In the West everything is on such a larger scale than here. So, it is amazing to see wheat and barley fields that do not go as far as the eye can see. I am also amazed at how fast everything grows after it is planted.

Speaking of planting, defined rows cannot usually be seen. The fields are seeded very tightly. Over the winter and into the spring the fields were very gray. The soil here is what I call concrete colored. After the fields are fertilized -- usually with chicken manure (ooo), they become a little brown and quite ripe. Then two to three weeks later they start greening and before you know it, the corn is three feet high. I swear that it grows at least six inches every week.

The countryside has changed dramatically in the last few weeks. Today we drove down the nearest road (about a mile from the house) and stopped to take some pictures of the crops that are maturing in our area. I think I have identified the pictures of the wheat and barley correctly, at least I hope so.

Here is a wheat field. It is located about two miles from where we live. The farmer was harvesting an adjacent field.

The same wheat field. But here you can see the limited size. We were on the roadside when this photo was taken. This seems to be the size of an average field in this area.

This corn field photo also gives an idea of the size of the fields here.

"The corn is as high as an...." Notice here how close together the plants are growing.

This and the next couple of shots show my fascination with farm sprinklers. In the West much of the irrigated land is done in circles as the massive sprinklers move in a circle. Here, there is not enough room for a circle. Or, should I say, I have not seen a circle yet but I have seen lots and lots of sprinklers.

These pictures are of what I believe is barley. When looking at these fields and the wheat fields I am reminded of how large they are not but how vital they are to the local economic fabric. Although they are not like the rolling hills of the Palouse or flatlands of the Great Plains, they are just as vital and beautiful.

"Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain..."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday at the Kennedy Center

For so very long I have wanted to attend an event at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Sunday, we were fortunate to attend a concert held in the Concert Hall. The Concert Hall is the largest of the three main performance venues. It is where the Washington Symphonic Orchestra is based. The Opera House is where most theatrical performances are made and is the stage for the annual The Kennedy Center Honors.

The concert was a performance of Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, DC. The band that Erica plays in, Capital Pride Symphonic Band, also performed. It was a very poignant program. The performances were of the highest caliber.

Seeing and hearing a performance at the Kennedy Center is very special as the venue is comfortable and the acoustics are wonderful. It is amazing how much fuller and richer the sounds of the band were coming from this stage. I have written of the band in previous posts and am so glad that Erica is able to continue participating in an activity she loves so very much. Band has been a vital part of her life for a long while now.

Geoff, Bill and I attended the concert and scurried around finding some lunch. Thus, the opportunity for photos was limited. Besides, we were not allowed to take photos in the hall even though I got a couple (not very good). Here are two I took outside the Concert Hall in the Hall of Nations.

I wish we would have had more time to explore the Center. I was somewhat underwhelmed but not disappointed if that makes any sense. I look forward to visiting again.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Herding the Cat

My friend Terry sent an email yesterday about giving a pill to a cat. It was funny alright. It reminded me of a twice daily adventure we have around here. It is called Herding the Cat starring George and Bentley. In previous posts about our pets I have mentioned that George is diabetic and takes insulin twice a day. She has been on this regiment since the first of the year when she had dropped to five pounds. Well, we have been true to our duty of injecting the insulin as prescribed. She has gotten stronger and once we got Bentley she even got more strong.

Well, we have had Bentley for four months now and George for 14 years. George has always been aloof and prone to hiding. Bentley still exhibits puppy ways (8 months old) and is not always the best behaved puppy around even though he just got a certificate from obedience school. Finding the cat for her shot has gotten to be an adventure. We have to make sure that all doors to closets are closed and then we search. Bentley has decided that this is great fun and has become a cat herder. All we have to say is, "Find the kitty" and he is off. He finds her, too. As he has grown and she has gotten stronger the races are becoming more dramatic but George is guided to her spot for her shot and Bent is very proud of himself.

Georgie is much better now. Her insulin is finally at the right dosage and she now weighs 8 1/2 pounds. She is much stronger and is once again her old belligerent self. Bentley is learning "stay" and "come" and sometimes gets them right.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

pRoof ReaDing or NOT

There was reason for me to look at my last blog. Once again I found myself shaking my head and wondering how I could miss such mistakes. My dad had Four not five sisters between him and his older brother. So, I edited that and then I saw a couple of other dumb editing mistakes. I was really ticked off that I had missed those when I first edited and then posted.

This all made me wonder why these perfectly well trained hands, eyes and brain cannot put it all together at the same time. Is it that the brain is faster than the hands? Or, is it that the eye and brain coordinate and read only some of the words? You know, they say that the trained mind does, in fact, read only part of the sentence. I do so much at the computer that I rarely hand write anything. I believe that that has contributed to my proofreading becoming weaker over the years. I can't focus as closely to words on the screen as I do to those on a piece of paper. Or, so I think.

With "Spell Check" I don't have to remember "i before e..." but I still have to remember when to use "were" or "was" and not include both at the same time. The trick for me is to catch it when I err. But, alas, I fear there is little hope for me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fathers Day

For all of you fathers out there, Happy Fathers Day!!

This picture is of my father when he graduated from high school in 1938. He was very handsome then and remained so through the years. Dad was the sixth of 12 children. There were four girls between him and his older brother. To say that he had those girls number might be an understatement. Besides the good looks and charm exhibited in his early years, Dad was blessed with a beautiful voice and a very wry sense of humor.

He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in December, 1941. He served in the Pacific Curtain of World War II. He saw action in the battles of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and others. Dad never talked much about what he did in the war except for the mention of a battle anniversary or sometimes when he would be upset with "you kids."

Dad did not sing in public after the war and only sometimes with family and friends after that. I always have believed that that was our loss. He did keep his sense of humor which would show at some of the most inopportune (for me) times. He was not raucous, just a few subtle words with a twinkle in his eyes.

My dad was a hard working, everyday guy. He loved to fish, to putter on projects. He learned to sew when I was in junior high school. He was pretty good at that. He discovered woodworking after he retired and made such things as cradles, curio cabinets and cedar chests. For the graduation season of 1995 he made four cedar chests for his four grandchildren who were graduating from high school that year -- Melissa, Robin, Joshua and Erica. Those are cherished pieces by those four as were other pieces made for his other grandchildren.

Dad died in 1996 and did not get to see his youngest grandchild graduate from high school. Dad loved his family deeply. He was proud of all of us but he was absolutely silly over his grandchildren, all ten of them. Through the good times and the bad times the one constant that I have had in my life was knowing that I was loved unconditionally by my father. I was blessed.

semper fi

Thursday, June 14, 2007


This past weekend we enjoyed Erica spending some time with us as well as doing a couple of other things. While Bill attended to his docent duties for the Milton Historical Society, Erica and I (Bentley & Frankie came too) went to the Sidewalk Art Show (sponsored by the Milton Arts Guild) that was set up along Governor's Walk and into town. There were some great pieces but alas we did not purchase anything.

Here are some pictures taken along the walk.

The "Governors Walk" was so named to honor four Delaware governors and one Wyoming governor all born in Milton. It runs along the Broadkill River. This picture is from a spot near Union Street looking towards Wagamons Pond.

This is the spillway from Wagamons to the Broadkill. It is amazing to me the number of fishers we see at the pond.

I call this picture "Condemned" because that is what this building is. One of the realities of an older building on a weakened foundation along the river is condemnation. The building is slipping into the river. I wonder what stories these windows could tell.

Sunday we attended a barbecue for the historical society. Bill won a poster that he has been wanting. We saw Geoff and Mike when they collected Erica and Frankie. All in all a good weekend.

Mike and Bentley getting to know each other.

Sorry about that Bentley, but you can't go to Virginia with Frankie and Mike.

Geese on Wagamons

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blog Anniversary

Today I have been blogging for one year. I started with trepidation and sometimes still I wonder if I should be doing this. However, I started to see if I could get into the habit of some "journaling" and to share my thoughts on dealing with the worsening condition and finally death of my mother. Getting started and coming back were difficult for me. However, when I realized that this was a way I could share with friends and family it became much easier.

This blog has chronicled some of my deepest thoughts of my family and friends. Mostly, though, it has been a vehicle to share our journey in place and time. This past year, as my sister said, "We became orphans." I turned 60 but I still want to hold on to my state of 59. We moved from the Pacific Northwest to the Mid Atlantic Region. We got a new dog. We missed our friends and family. We are closer to other family and friends. We are finally beginning to settle.

My blog has renewed my interest and joy of using a camera. I am lusting after a new one but "time will tell." Digital photography is so instant and now I am being challenged as to how to save and categorize. The blog has forced me to download the pictures from the camera two or three times a week -- no more putting a roll of film aside for who knows how long. I enjoy showing some of the pictures of our trips and adventures.

This blog is as my friend Terry says, "somewhat under the radar." But, I know there are quite a few folks who check it out several times a week. I often wish there would be more comments but because this is not a central theme type of blog, that's OK. Anyway, like email, this blog has been a fun way to stay in touch. And, it has taught me more about myself.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Summer Silliness

Erica, if she has never been anything else, has been silly. She and Geoff together are frequently very silly together. Add to that just one friend and then you wonder "What were they thinking?" This is especially true when considering that they are bright, extremely hardworking adults. Case in point: They and another friend think that their friend Mike should have a tattoo. The tattoo should reflect on his famous wings. So, a trip to the Miltonian Pizzeria and Wing House was in order for Mike to sample their wings and for Erica and Geoff to get him a gift of a new shirt. Their suggestion for the tattoo -- the logo for the Miltonian.

The request from them was to put Mike's picture on my blog for all of their other friends and family to see. So, I have succumbed to the silliness.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Elusive Heron

We live very close to a large pond. It is the size of small lake but is a pond nevertheless. Wagamons Pond is a man made body of water completed in the early 1800's and is apparently a great place to fish. Hardly a day goes by that we don't see at least one fisher testing the waters. For me crossing the pond is not about fishing -- far from it. I like to check out the other aquatic life there. There is always some kind of water bird there and now that it is summer there are also turtles to be seen. I go with camera ready and miss the shots either because the birds are flying away or we are just travelling too fast.

There is frequently a heron standing in a little cove. I have yet to get a good picture because he is so elusive. But I will keep on trying. The heron reminds me of the great whooping cranes I have seen in the Rockies. Well, so I haven't been able to get a good shot at Wagamons, but I managed a few good snaps last week at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge -- just minutes from our house.

Here, then, are a few pictures of a heron we spied there.

Monday, June 04, 2007


This is one of those times I wish were a poet. Alas, I am not so my jumbled thoughts will just have be in my jumbled prose.

When first introduced to email about 15 years ago now I found it to be an exciting business tool but it was ever so slow and unreliable. I preferred the fax and especially the telephone for quick communication. Better still, when time was not as important, was a good letter. My, oh my, how things have changed!! It seems as though everyone uses email now and not just for business.

I got into the habit of checking my email first thing in the morning for work. Old habits have a hard time dying as I still do that today. As technology has advanced so has the use of email and other electronic messaging. It's frustrating to get spam and other junk emails just as it is for snail mail. But, communication if almost instantaneous and that has become the model for business. I still prefer getting a formal letter even if attached to an email to an email with stuff here and there. With the need for the instant message style and content has been abreviated to say the least. But, it is, nevertheless, a valuable tool that is here to stay.

On the personal front I am grateful for email. It has done what would probably not have happened for me. It has connected me to friends and family in a way that gives me the "warm fuzzies" every now and then. Sure, 80% of the messages are forwards of jokes or poems of love and friendship, but there is a frequent "Hi" attached. Through some of these silly emails I have been able to reconnect with childhood friends and sorority sisters. I have been able to maintain a line of communication with friends and associates who have entered our lives at different stages.

The 20% that are not of the forward variety come from the same friends and family in the form pictures, updates, and just "thinking of you" messages. How cool is that? Whether good news or bad, I love receiving email. It makes me laugh, it makes me think of those I love and care about, it keeps me informed.