A Walk in the Park

I can tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to certain aspects of my life, especially if it’s an activity that involves the possibility of getting lost. Try as I might to change it, the fact is that I’m what you would call directionally challenged.

My adventures in getting lost include ending up in the wrong state (more than once), taking the wrong train home and arriving at social events way beyond fashionably late even when I start out thinking I know where I’m going. As it turns out, GPS systems aren’t infallible. 🙂

My fear of getting lost isn’t limited to cars, trains and planes – it also influences where I walk, I stick to the towpath and taking the same route through a nearby neighborhood both there and back home. It would be impossible to get lost on the towpath, it runs parallel to the Delaware river for 60 miles and the only decision I have to make is whether I want to turn right or left out of the neighborhood and onto the trail.

The route might always be the same, but it’s never boring. There’s always something interesting and beautiful along the way and it’s one of my favorite places to think.

blue heron against a back drop of wild flowers

The area I live in is full of places to walk, run or bike – one of the local favorites is Tyler State Park. It’s 1,700 hilly acres interconnected with curving trails for pedestrians, bicycles and horses. The gravel trails through the woods are my youngest son’s favorite place to go for a run, not so much mine.

The first winter we lived here, I learned about a local running club that hosts a winter race series in Tyler Park. Looking back, I’m not sure what I was thinking, but at the time it seemed like it could be a good way to meet people and make friends. The people in the club were super nice and also wicked fast.

At the time I could keep up a 12 minute pace (on a good day and a flat course); the average pace of the runners in the group was 9 minutes or less per mile (every day and on a hilly course). It was all I could do to go fast enough to keep the last runner in sight so I wouldn’t take a wrong turn and end up lost in the middle of the park, especially on a long run. Thankfully they always had one or more volunteers stationed at the danger spots and I always found my way back to the boathouse.

Last Sunday I finally took Christian up on his offer to take me on a guided walking tour of his favorite spots in Tyler Park. We snagged the last open parking spot, laced up our shoes, grabbed a couple of giant bubble wands out of the trunk and headed into the park.

First stop, the Algae Slide. Apparently it’s the favorite spot for selfies among high school aged girls and young couples.

003

From there we headed off of the paved trails, across a wooden bridge and into the woods, needless to say it was not a route I’d have taken on my own. 🙂

007

Unfortunately the bridge that connects the business of the park with the solitude of nature is covered in graffiti and littered with drug paraphernalia. It’s such a shame that people don’t show respect for the world around them.

For the next hour or so, my 19 year old son and I hiked up and down the trail,

013

stopped to enjoy little glimpses of nature like this tiny little toad,

012

blew big bubbles in the clearings with our bubble wands

020

and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.

028

Even though Christian was my guide, I have to admit that I sighed a little breath of relief when we emerged back out of the woods into a more familiar spot.

029

It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

My House, is a Very Very Fine House

Five years ago is a summer I will never forget and am glad that I can now look back on it with laughter instead of tears. In July of 2010, my life as a single mom and sole provider for my youngest son began. The first and most important priority at that time was to find a house to rent.

Finding a house to rent sounds like it should be pretty easy, but as it turns out it wasn’t.

I signed up to receive email notifications for rental properties that were within my budget, in our school district and accepted pets. Days and days passed with nothing showing up in my inbox. I was beginning to think something was wrong when, ding, ding ding – I had mail!

There was a house that met all of the criteria, so my realtor scrambled to make an appointment the very same day. Christian and I wandered through the house. The carpet was worn, there was a very damp smell to the basement, and the yard was seriously in need of some attention. Sizing things up, we kept repeating to each other, “it’s not great, but it’s better than the apartment.”

We convinced each other that it was going to be great and we could make it work, so I filled out the paperwork, dropped it off, and held my breath. One day passed, another day passed, and on the third day our application was rejected – or rather we learned that the house had been leased to another family.

In between sobs, I explained to my parents how horrible it was that we wouldn’t be moving into a house we didn’t love, in a neighborhood that wasn’t great. Wow, now it even sounds ridiculous to me. 🙂

It seemed like forever until I finally received another promising email, so long in fact that I had ordered and received new shower curtains, towels, and comforters for the apartment. I’d also hung new pictures and put flowers in the window of the apartment to try and lift our spirits and soften the memories.

As with the first opportunity, I was on top of the situation. Within hours of receiving the email, I’d arranged a visit with the homeowner. The references in the lease to specific types of nails and cleaning supplies should have been a clue that it wasn’t going to be a great fit, but it wasn’t…

I sent the homeowner pictures of my kids and of my home in Omaha as a way to convince her that I’d take good care of her property. After she called and grilled my close friends (character references) about my ability to take care of a home, she extended the offer to rent to the house to me. Not only that, she agreed to let me paint the walls and I agreed to use the cleaning supplies listed in the lease.

Although the agreement was only verbal, I turned in my notice at the apartment complex with a smile.

The morning I was scheduled to meet the painter an email arrived,

Good Morning Beth,
 
Thank you for sharing the photos of your family and your home with me. You have beautiful children and a lovely home.
 
At this point, it is with sadness that I must tell you that I cannot enter into a rental agreement with you. After serious soul searching, tossing and turning through the night, I have decided that it is time for me to move forward in my life.
 
I have held on to that house for many years because I have a hard time letting go of things I love. I am starting a new job in a couple of weeks and it is time for me to lessen the load and stress I have been carrying for too long.
 
My days of being a Landlord are behind me. As I told you, I really want to sell the house. I’m sure you and your son are wonderful people and we would have had a great relationship. Nonetheless, the season in my life has changed.
 
I spoke to my Agent about this. She told me she just listed a beautiful house for rent which is available for immediate occupancy in the same school district which might be perfect for you. She will be happy to show it to you without delay. I believe these unfolding events will work out for the long term best for each of us. I pray your initial disappointment will become joyful just as quickly.
 
Sincerely and with very best wishes,
The woman who said she’d rent  to you

The house she recommended was so far out of my reach it wasn’t even funny. I honestly didn’t think the tears would ever stop after receiving this email. Thank goodness the management at the apartment complex accepted my un-notice and we still had a place to live.

I’d all but given up hope.

Then, serendipity made her presence known in my life.

My realtor texted me and, the next day I found “my house.”

The front walk was uneven and I made a mental note to be careful if I ever decided to wear heels again.  One misstep and I’d be sure to leave the whole shoe behind. My new landlord (lady) greeted with a warm smile and a hug after a single ding announced my arrival; I’d already begun to think of her as a friend.

“Let’s start the tour here in the kitchen, I’ll go over the appliances in here, and Tim will be ‘round directly to show you how to use the fireplace and furnace. They can be a bit tricky, but you’ll be fine.  The neighbors are great, and we’re only a phone call away,” she said.  

I took notes about everything from how low I could let the oil tank go, to which key went with which door, and how to prevent a moat from forming when it rains too hard.  I squeezed as many questions as possible in between her excited explanations.

The final stop on the tour of the house was my bedroom.  “Now about your room, I’ve already decided this color is all wrong for you, it’s way too dull. But I want to wait a bit to paint so I can think of just the right color to fill it with sunshine for you.”

My room is now the color of sunshine.

I don’t have two cats in the yard and sometimes life is still hard, but I am grateful every day for my very, very fine house.

FullSizeRender

Yellow – Fall’s Hidden Treasure

Fall is my second favorite season, summer will always be my first. What can I say? I love the warmth of the sun. I do have to admit that the cooler temperatures of fall make long walks and bike rides along the towpath even more enjoyable.

This year the reds and oranges have been especially vibrant, and for the first time ever I noticed the beauty in the color yellow as well.

I also discovered that sometimes the leaves that have fallen to the ground are as beautiful as the leaves still clinging to the branch. This blanket of gold and subtle accents of green covering the grass took my breath away.

hidden beauty inspiration

I have no doubt that the drivers of the cars passing me wondered why I was taking pictures of the ground, but I couldn’t help myself. I saw more than fallen leaves, I saw the hidden beauty.

The image inspired me to draw.

hidden beauty

I decided to call it “Hidden Beauty.”

Celebrating Life – An Afternoon in New Hope

the Delaware River on a Breezy day in March

The second weekend in March is an anniversary of sorts for me. Five years ago was my first visit to New Hope and in many ways it was the first day of my new life.

It would be an understatement to say that the move to Pennsylvania was a challenge on many fronts. At that point in my life I did nothing but worry, and in my mind I had a lot to worry about. The company I moved to here to work for declared Chapter 11, the adjustment to living in a new state far away from friends and family caused many emotional difficulties, and the fact we hadn’t sold our house were at the top of the list.

It didn’t help matters that we didn’t leave the apartment for anything other than to go to the grocery store or to go to work. I was thrilled when we finally found a dog sitter and arranged to take a day trip.

I remember it like it was yesterday. The forecast prompted a last minute change.  It was a Sunday and we’d made plans to go to Manayunk, PA but the chilly March temperatures, threat of rain, and dog sitter schedule limitations caused a change in plans. Instead we went to New Hope, which is twelve miles away not fifty and going anywhere was better than staying home. All I knew is I was desperate to get out of the apartment.

Our first stop was Made In Italy. Elaborate Venetian masks covered the walls, glass shelves held hand tooled leather belts and accessories, and black velvet jewelry busts showed off bright colored beads and bangles.  I was drawn to the case dedicated to less elaborate necklaces and fell in love with a solid silver sun with wavy rays.

I’ve always had a thing for the sun; it could be because I’m a Leo, but it’s more likely because my favorite memories are made of endless days spent playing in the sun at Big Sand Lake in Minnesota.

I started to play the rationalization game to justify the purchase and promised myself that if the necklace was still there when it came time to head home it was meant to be mine. We visited all of the eclectic shops we could and at the end of the day, my mood was lighter than it had been in months, the grey skies parted just enough to let a bit of sunshine and blue sky peak through, and of course the sun necklace was still in the case waiting for me.

I put the necklace on as soon as we got in the car and it immediately became a tangible symbol of the promise of a new and happy life. It didn’t seem like a coincidence that the threat of storms changed our destination and led us to a place called New Hope.

I wear the necklace as a daily reminder of hope, happiness, and the importance of being me. I also take a day trip to New Hope every year on the same weekend to celebrate life and the woman I’ve become. This year I added a few additional stops to my day.

I started my afternoon adventure by treating myself to a few slices of margherita flatbread at a local restaurant called The Vault.

margherita flatbread

I’m not sure why but I find it amusing to think about a micro brewery in a building that used to be a bank. They have great beer that is brewed on site and the food is yummy. You can buy what’s called a Growler and have them fill it with your favorite brew and take it home, it’s re-fillable and they sanitize it for you. I don’t have one, but I’m tempted to make a purchase.

The Vault In Yardley PA

I turned right instead of left at the end of East Afton and drove toward my old apartment. In a moment of impulse I stopped to take a few pictures of one of my favorite views of the Delaware River.

the Delaware River on a Breezy day in March

Feelings of relief, happiness, and accomplishment came over me as I drove down the street toward my old apartment. The two years I lived there might possibly have been the most difficult time in my life. It was also life changing in ways that have turned out to be amazing.

I took a picture of the apartment building, but deleted it. Instead I chose to remember the gateway leading to the Delaware Towpath.

Tree Lined Path ledaing to the Delaware Towpath

I’ve spent countless hours on the towpath running, riding, taking pictures, and thinking. Lots and lots of thinking and also a few life changing and difficult conversations.

Before beginning my anniversary tour of the town I stopped a the playhouse to pick up information about upcoming shows. My new goal is to do something fun each weekend so when I look back on this time in my life I’ll have a list of “I’m glad I……” instead of a list full of “I wish I’d…..”

Bucks County Playhouse

My first visit in New Hope was to a psychic. There are almost as many psychic’s in New Hope as there are restaurants which has made it difficult to choose one. I finally decided on Readings by Edith because of the golden sun on the sign.

Readings by Edith Sign

The funny thing was that Edith turned out to be a 300 pound man. He happens to be Edith’s son, but I still found it amusing. He does palm readings, tarot cards, and has a crystal ball. He read my palms using a large magnifying glass and I have to admit even I was surprised at the details the tiny lines revealed.

I wandered through several of the stores. The doodle designs on these sticks were fun and reminded me of the many ways that art comes into our lives.

sticks with doodle designs

I ended my day with a glass of wine and a bowl of French Onion soup. I was lucky enough to get a bird’s eye view of the street from the restaurant’s outdoor patio.

Beth in New Hope

New hope has to be one of the best places in the world for people watching. My favorite from yesterday was the bird man. He walked around the street with his Raven and another unidentified bird on his shoulders.

man with a Raven on his shoulder

Of course I wouldn’t go near him for fear that one of the birds might decide to leave his shoulder and hover over my head. I wonder how many times he’s shared the story of his birds with strangers on the street.

My day of celebrating life ended on a perfect note and I completed the first version of my second grade art girl dress.

i am me - Doodle Art Dress

It was a great day of celebrating life and being myself.

Flat Tires, Mega Snow, Power Outages, and Memorable Moments

2014 has certainly started off in a memorable way. Between January 3rd and February 7th I’ve experienced two major winter storms, two flat tires, two separate power outages, three nights without power, the perfect car rental storm, and last but not least a pair of broken eye glasses.

I’m notorious for not paying attention to the weather forecast and most of the time I learn about incoming hurricanes and snow storms from one or more of my family members from the Midwest. The winter storm Hercules was no different, my daughter gave me the head’s up the day before and so I thought I was prepared for my drive to Lancaster to deliver an on-site workshop.

Based on my calculation I figured I would have no problem beating the storm. Boy was I wrong. For the first time in my life I was listening to the traffic announcer on the radio say something like:

traffic on 202 is bumper to bumper and barely crawling due to heavy snow and near white out conditions,”

And I was in the conditions. It took me nearly 2 ½ hours to drive the final thirty miles. I’ve never been happier to pull into a Holiday Inn Express and be within walking distance of a Ruby Tuesday.

Glass of wine at Ruby Tuesday

The Sunday following my weekend in Lancaster was highlighted by a terrifying blow out on I95 at 4:30 in the morning. I now understand why there are emergency pull off areas on the interstate and I have a whole new appreciation for the importance of knowing how to change a flat tire. You’ll be happy to know that I now belong to Triple A.

I’d scheduled another on-site training workshop for the week following the Lancaster one. When I booked the training in Virginia I didn’t realize that my travel conflicted with a hair appointment. I figured I’d hit the jackpot when my hair dresser had availability earlier that same day. In retrospect I probably should have rescheduled the hair appointment for the following week and not just to an earlier time, but looking good for my training session was a priority at the time.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the car rental process hadn’t taken so long. I stared at the Hertz Rental car sign and the snow packed parking lot for over an hour waiting for someone to deliver the rental car from another location. There’s only so much small talk one can make with the guy manning the front desk.

My impression of Hertz didn’t improve when I discovered that I’d been double billed. In addition to the original Hotwire charge there was a charge for the full amount of the rental from Hertz. To add insult to injury, I received an automated message from Hertz threatening to pursue legal action for the car I had not returned.

I called and confirmed the return and check in of my car before responding to the message. After three separate hour long attempts to speak to the next available agent, I gave up trying and am hoping that since no one has shown up with a warrant for my arrest things have been sorted out.

The trip to Lancaster taught me to pay more attention to the weather and I monitored the incoming snow to help me decide whether or not to reschedule the workshops I had scheduled to begin on Monday and Wednesday. The forecast for Monday morning changed from 2 – 4 inches to 4 – 8 inches while I was sleeping. One student rescheduled and one did not.

While shoveling I spotted a woman trudging through the snow toward my house; she wasn’t my student, but easily could have been.

woman walking through the snow stormIt was amazing that we started only 30 minutes late and her Toyota didn’t end up in a ditch between here and New Jersey. We spent the day with our fingers crossed that the flickering lights wouldn’t go completely out. Luck was with us, and we had power all day.

Shoveling is hard work, especially when it’s heavy and wet and you run out of daylight.

snow piles in the darkLavender scented hot bath water and nice music is a great way to sooth jangled nerves and achy muscles. My relaxing bath was disrupted by a loud whirring noise accompanied by a bright blue glowing light and total darkness. When I called to report the outage, the blue glow seemed like a crucial piece of information however the gal at PECO seemed less than concerned about it. All I know is it was pretty scary.

I found the only open restaurant in town and made my meal last as long as possible.

margharita flat breadThankfully I had power when I returned home and we had both lights and internet access for the second day of training.

A forecast of freezing rain for Wednesday had me wishing I could reschedule the second class of the week; however my student had already driven in from New York City so cancelling wasn’t an option.

Tuesday night I was preparing for the next day and absentmindedly put my eye glasses in my lap instead of on the table. Preoccupied with weather conditions and Hertz rental charge issues it didn’t occur to me that the loud crunch under my foot was the bow snapping off.

The realization I’d crunched my glasses and not a cheap pen from the bank almost caused an official melt-down.

Wednesday morning the lights flickered on and off a bit but the freezing rain stopped. We broke for lunch at noon. My mission to replace my frames was thwarted by road blocks, fallen trees, and downed power lines.

There were no lights on when I got home. The temperature in the house was tolerable so between the remaining battery life on my laptop we made it through the majority of the training material. My student then fired up his laptop, connected to the internet from the hot spot on his phone, I downloaded the presentation from my Google Drive and we finished out the day.

I bundled up for bed and lit a few candles.

candles

I drew a little by candle light, and drifted off hoping I would wake up to power and heat. Not sure I love this one, I was experimenting with some new ink and haven’t decided whether or not to finish the entry.

experimenting with new inks

Thursday morning brought no power, 50 degree temps in my house, and a flat tire. We arranged to meet at a local coffee shop, one of the few places in the area that still had power.

Before meeting my student, I drove to the closest service station to get my tire looked at. The loud rumbling sounds of the generator powering the station made it impossible to hear the conversation between the guys in the shop. I kept my fingers crossed that they would be able to spare the power to fill my tires. He filled my tire from 10 lbs back to 35 lbs and checked the pressure in the other three tires for free.

The owners of the coffee shop were accommodating and we made it through Thursday and wrapped up training on Friday at Friday’s. It seemed appropriate to avoid over-staying our welcome at the coffee shop and find a place that served lunch and wouldn’t mind having me linger until it was time to catch a train to Philly.

I knew I would have to change my plans to spend the evening in Philly as soon as I saw my rear tire. Thankfully Friday’s is next door to a Firestone and I dropped my car off to have the tire repaired. A glass of wine and a salad later, I got a call from one of the service techs. Long story short, I’m the proud owner of four brand new tires.

blown out tire mechanic

Over 600,000 people lost power during this storm. The electric company reported that it was the second worst storm in their history. My power was restored sometime Friday afternoon and slowly but surely the temperature rose from 40 degrees to comfortable.

If the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is true, I gained a whole bunch of strength in the past two months.

I’m beyond happy to have power back and second to that is having my glasses back. Yesterday on my way to the gym, I stopped at the place I originally purchased the frames from. I was hopeful, but not certain that the owner would be able to find a pair of frames he could pop my lenses into.

The great new is, he did!

The funny thing is, the design on the bows almost look like something I might have drawn.

new glasses frames with design on bow

Spring has Finally Sprung

It’s been one of the coldest and gloomiest springs that I can remember. I was still wearing my winter jacket during the first week of April.  I just couldn’t seem to warm up enough to go outside without bundling up.

Yesterday was the first day that I didn’t hear the roar of my furnace followed by the clickty clacks along the baseboard as the heat kicked in to take the chill out of the air.

To celebrate the nice weather I grabbed my camera and walked along the towpath. It was interesting to observe how different things look this spring as compared to last spring.

I bumped into Bonnie, the tender of my favorite neighborhood garden.  She once again caught me taking pictures of her flowers and invited me into her garden to take more. 🙂

006

This daffodil reminded me of a miniature sun.

this makes me smile

And I loved the contrast of colors, deep purple and pops of bright yellow against an emerald backdrop.

016

Last year at this time the daffodils lined the towpath in full bloom and the green was brilliant and bright.

daffodils





This year there were very few daffodils and it was as though spring was trying to fight her way out of winter’s grasp.

037

The natural grass looked like it was still late fall, I couldn’t see even a hint of green.

027

I always love the whimsical, almost mysterious, hints of red that introduce spring along the branches of this tree.

whimsical gateway to romance

It felt wonderful to be outside and to become reacquainted with the towpath, my camera, and spring.

Superbowl V – A Championship Year

Five years ago today, I boarded a plane in Omaha, Nebraska and landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was a bittersweet day and one that set in motion a series of changes in my life that I never could have foreseen.

“Did you land safely?” he asked.

“Yep, I’m about to head north to Bensalem and I’ll check into the hotel,”

The conversation paused while the wave of applause and cheers subsided.

“Wow, sounds like it’s quite a party.  I can’t believe I’m missing it,” I said.

“I know first time in almost twenty years, hopefully you can find somewhere to watch the game and enjoy it.  Good luck on the new job tomorrow, give me a call and let me know how it goes. I’d better get back to the game and guests,” he replied.

The first day at my new job included introductions to my new staff, a tour of my new apartment (which looked nothing like the pictures online), and an outburst of tears when I discovered the fact that I’d improperly packed senior pictures and they were covered with scratches.

Five years later I’m writing this from my new office, which is located at the top of my stairs.

15_linkedin and a whole new world

The pups are in their place, sleeping soundly at my feet while I type away – the clicks on the keyboard are a constant sound in the house.

19_my assitants romeo and annie

It would be easy for me to look at the past five years and say that moving was a bad idea.  A near foreclosure, major changes in family status, and the helplessness I felt when we first moved as I watched my youngest son experience severe growing pains in a completely unfamiliar environment top the list.

There were times when I felt like moving boxes was a bigger challenge than moving mountains.

ceiling to floor boxes
ceiling to floor boxes

But somehow the space magically transformed into a little slice of paradise.

finishing touches

There were days I questioned myself as a parent and doubted my choices. I’ve come to learn that we all do.  The smiling faces of my beautiful children is a constant source of joy and realization that what’s important is the communication about the choices, not the decisions themselves.

NYC in the rainy cold at Christmas

At the age of fifty, I learned to laugh out loud, with joy, and without embarrassment.  I began to understand that life is meant to be celebrated.

the gangs all here

I discovered the gift of writing and that the color of my soul is the sun.

perfect reflection of clouds at sunset on Big Sand Lake, MN

I now know that there’s more than one way to experience a visit to the zoo.

butterfly

And a walk through the neighborhood can reveal unexpected treasures.

fred the frog
fred the frog

I’ve learned that it’s never too late to learn something new and that we all have the capacity to amaze ourselves.

029 final sunflower_cropped

I know how to “batten down the hatches” and draw strength from candles in the storm.

candle in the storm - ink drawing on handmade paper

When I started this blog a year or so ago the title “It’s a Whole New World,” was the biggest understatement of the century.

Each of the past five years has had it’s ups and downs and in one way or another they’ve been a winning season, but this past year has definitely been a championship year.  I have a feeling, the upcoming season is going to be even better.

Behind the Scenes of a PSA – Hours of Work for a Few Seconds of Fame

Christian and Chris scoping out the camera angle

I always wondered why it took so long to make a movie and figured it had more to do with the temperament of the stars than the actual process.

Christian’s assignment from his independent film study course was to create a PSA to increase the awareness of parents when it comes to alcohol usage among teens.  The filming started in early October and finished it in a series of one to two hour sessions throughout the month.

Chris and Christian had already put in hours worth of work before they arrived at the house.  They brainstormed the idea, created the story board, and carefully planned each scene.

I was under strict instructions to wear exactly the same thing for each session.  Other than the forgetting to wear my watch once (which caused a re-shoot and a production delay), that part was easy.  The more difficult part was making sure my hair and make up turned out the same each time.

The hair part was especially tough as the closer we got to being finished, the more I needed to get a cut and color.  I told them the next time we do this, I need to have a wardrobe and make up assistant.

It was really amazing to watch the boys map out each scene and figure out how to overcome the minor obstacles associated with filming at our house.  Some of the more challenging ones were lighting and odd reflections, floors that shake the camera when you walk too hard, and a couple of noisy miniature dachshunds.

For about a month, nightstand and floor lamps that could double as a spotlight were scattered throughout the house along with props for the project.  The funniest and my favorite was that pictures of my “fake” son replaced ones of my real kids while we were in production mode.

The grand finale was the scene with the police officer.  I can’t help but wonder what people were thinking when they saw the police car in my driveway for most of the afternoon.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t able to see the boys behind the camera.

Christian and Chris scoping out the camera angle

The teachers and the police officer were awesome, they let the boys run the show but also shared helpful tips and ideas. They made quite the creative team.  It was fun to have multiple cameras and to hear them talk in ‘movie making’ speak.

Police Officer, Boys, and Teachers in front of the Police Car

The officer was particularly helpful in providing insights as to how the scene would unfold and what various reactions might be.  He was an awesome co-star.

Star and Costar - Beth and Police Officer

I can’t say enough about these two young men.  They’re not only talented, they are polite, intelligent, and fun to be around.  I can honestly say I looked forward to every session and I was kind of sad when we were done.

Beth, Christian, and Chris in front of the police car

After we finished filming the final scene, the guys had some fun.  Christian and Chris had a hard time looking tough as they were put under fake arrest and escorted to the back of the squad car.

Christian and Chris trying to look tough - fake arrest

I’m not sure what was going on here, but I think it must have been something about how to fit my 6’4″ son into the car.

the guys problem solving and setting up the scene for the police car

I had to take one last picture for the day, but somehow I don’t think this will be the last picture taken of Christian in front of a media van.

Christian in front of the PHS video van

The video was released on YouTube in November after weeks of editing and tweaking.  I could be biased, but I think it’s brilliant.

A Candle in the Storm

candle in the storm - ink drawing on handmade paper

Last night I learned the hard way that one should not try and write a blog post while under the influence of fatigue and preoccupation.  I wanted to write about my experience during Sandy, but I was so busy wondering whether or not we’d be affected by Athena that I hit “publish” way before the post was done.

The dilemma – trash it or try and fix it?  It didn’t seem like deleting it was the thing to do, so I tried my best to fix it by keeping it short and sweet and changing the title.  All in all, a confusing experience and I don’t plan on repeating it any time soon.  About three seconds after I published the post and before I “fixed” it, Katie’s email arrived.

“I think this one got published a little too soon or something went wrong.”

I burst out laughing and called to tell her my tale of blogging woe.  We had a good chuckle about it and in the end concluded that it was OK because it was truly a “musing and random thought.”

The good news is that Athena didn’t hit my area as hard as they were predicting and although I’m not thrilled about the snow on the ground, I couldn’t be happier that I have power and there is sunshine in the forecast.

a little snow after Athena - Trees still have leaves

This morning I pulled up the pictures I took the night Sandy hit and thought about that day and the days that followed.

I realize now that I was completely unprepared mentally for the storm.  I stocked up on water non- perishable food items because my mom and dad told me I should.  Although there were plenty of warnings that hundreds of thousands of people would lose power for up to a week, it didn’t occur to me that we’d be among them.  My point of reference was Irene, during which we lost power for a grand total of three hours.

I can’t decide if eerie or surreal is the better word to describe the hours leading up to the actual storm. On Sunday Christian helped me batten down the hatches and secure everything we thought might turn into a missile or be damaged.

On Monday we rolled up the rug in the basement and put all of the electronic gadgets as high as we could without disconnecting the network of cables and cords.  I tried my best to concentrate on my projects and research but every time the porch door banged and bumped against the house my mind wandered.

I finally gave up and Christian and I decided to take advantage of our power and cable access.  We took a risk and made microwave popcorn that had expired in May (we threw out the package that had an expiration date of 2010) and watched Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter followed by The Incredibles.

The  first movie was surprisingly entertaining and we made it through the entire show without interruption.  Lights flickered and teased us during The Incredibles, but we made it to the very end before the house went black.

I’d forgotten how dark it is when there is no power.  The tiny beams of color from televisions, laptops, modems, and whatnot keep rooms from turning pitch black even if the lights are turned out.  Fortunately I knew exactly where the lighter was and could quickly light some candles.

fireplace by candlelight during Hurricane Sandy

We played cribbage by candlelight, not an easy thing to do.  The most challenging part was trying to figure out whether or not I was moving the right peg.

cribbage by candlelight

“It’s weird to think that people lived like this before electricity and batteries,” I said.

Christian responded, “It explains why they went to bed at 7 o’clock.”

It wasn’t much past 7 when we decided to call it a night and get ready for bed. It was disconcerting and more than a little scary to watch the white curtains dance with the wind by candlelight. The flickering flames added a haunting quality to the night.

candles I knew that if the wind was strong enough to blow the curtains on the inside of my house there was no way we would wake up with power.

We were lucky.  There were quite a few branches down in our yard; but no live wires, no trees, and we got power back within less than three days.

I’m not sure why but I didn’t take any pictures of the aftermath.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want to remember it or maybe it’s because I’ll never forget it.  Instead of taking pictures of fallen trees and sparking live wires my album from that day contains the candles that provided light throughout the storm.

One of my friends challenged me to embrace the experience and find a way to let my artistic side express it.  In an “artistic moment,” I took this picture of one of the candles in my bedroom.  I liked the way the flame reflected against the copper color metal and cast a soft-star shaped shadow against the wall.

candle in the stormOver the next few days the image of this candle and the warmth of the flame and shadows inspired me to capture this Candle in a Storm in ink on a piece of my hand-made paper.candle in the storm - ink drawing on handmade paper

I’m extremely happy and thankful to be warm and safe.