Philadelphia Skyline

Philadelphia Skyline

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Philadelphia Industrial: Veolia Energy

Veolia Energy is a "Green Steam" plant, producing steam heat and chilled water cooling through a 26-mile network of underground pipe system.  The Philadelphia plant is located on the Schuykill River.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge

 The cornerstone for the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge was laid June 1903, in tribute to General George Washington and the soldiers of Valley Forge.  It was designed by Milton B. Medary, Jr., and home to an active parish as well as a "wayside chapel" for those who visit the Valley Forge National Park.  The chapel is not part of the National Park Service, however, and receives no funding or other services from the NPS.  It is maintained as a 501(c)(3) organization for purposes of preservation of the building.
 Rand and I stopped after leaving Valley Forge and took a brief tour, visited the used bookstore where I bought two books for a couple of dollars, and stepped inside the cabin shop for a drink and snack.

 The first bell tower had 28 bells, starting with 14, and adding 14 more in the late 1920s and 1930s.  A new bell tower was begun in 1941, but suspended due to World War II.  Construction was resumed in 1950 and completed in 1953, and 30 bells added above the lower 28 bells.  The bells weigh 26 tons, ranging from 13 1/2 pounds to 8,000 pounds.  The bells are played from a keyboard and pedals connected to the bells' clappers--58 keys and 24 pedals.
The Justice Bell is a full-sized replica of the Liberty Bell that traveled Pennsylvania between 1915 and 1920 in support of the women's suffrage movement.

Finally, check out this short video about the gargoyles on the church--It is a fun listen. Grimm and Eldwyn will enjoy your visit.

Source notes:  All information about the chapel is taken from the Washington Memorial Chapel website at

Friday, July 22, 2016

Layers of connection

This week was the last face-to-face for the class, and after next week's conclusion online, we are done now until August.  We have been engaged in a clinical practice with groups class, and I teach the class as parallel process:  training the group leader through the process of a group.  Several students were on tap to lead during the final practice lab.  At completion of an activity, from my perspective of sitting eye level with the strings connecting us to each other, it struck me as a metaphor for what we were trying to accomplish.  The more we interacted, the more layered and complex the levels of string became, but as one student also noted:
This makes you see it is really complex, but it is really simple.
We talked about how to take this awareness out of the classroom, and into our communities, agencies, nation...What kind of strategies would enable us to co-create the kinds of relationships outside of the class as we had managed to create in the class throughout the summer?
My mind tends to always go the the Shreveport-Bossier City Community Renewal program.  They use a systematic approach, based on particular principles, that can be replicated.  In shorthand:
What kind of world do we want?  What kind of society makes possible that kind of world?  What kind of community makes possible that kind of society?  What kind of family makes possible that kind of community?  What kind of person makes possible that kind of family?  What kind of environment makes possible that kind of person?  What do we have to do to make possible that kind of environment?
We challenged ourselves to continue the kind of thinking that has brought us to this point in our lives and common work, and to put that kind of thinking into action in our lives.  "Change starts by shaking the whole tree" (Mack McCarter, 2013).

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Road Trip: Iron Hill Brewery in Voorhees, New Jersey

While in Philadelphia, we stayed across the river in Mt Laurel, New Jersey and were just about a 15 minute drive to see my friend's mom.  I have known her for a while now, and even stayed at her house on one of my adventurous road trips with her daughter.  We took Betty to lunch to celebrate Jane's birthday in absentia.   While Rand is your typical meat and potatoes kind of guy, I had a pizza with fig, prosciutto, arugula, with balsamic glaze and Betty had a citrus chicken salad.  It was a celebration after all, so Betty had the merlot and I had the brewery's Pig Iron Porter--which was fabulous, I must say!  Rand allowed as how he, too, was celebrating with blackberry iced tea. 

 The splurge continued with a mountain of chocolate and ice cream--brownies topped with ice cream, chocolate, caramel, and nuts, which Betty and I could not finish in spite of our effort.
Back at the house, we caught up on all the doings and goings on of the grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc., most of whom I know or at least, know about.  In honor of Rand's planned visit to Martin Guitar, Betty brought out her hand-made vintage canjo.  Who says Jersey is not a happening place?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Texas sunsets

Something about Texas sunsets fascinates me, like sunsets no other place.  I would sit out on the west deck most evenings and watch the sun finally sink behind the trees in the pasture.  Colors would range from reds, oranges, and pinks to deep blues and purples.  Two nights in a row, it was stormy weather and the clouds would turn dark, with deep orange skies from the reflected dust, and the rain was visible in the distance.   
It was hot--over 100 several days--but generally dry and thus, not sultry like Mississippi.  Still, I would be perspiring in the heat.  The east deck was cooler as it was in shade and the breeze blowing on that side of the house, and while I enjoyed looking at all the flowers blooming around the deck, it was not a sunset...and, I could not see Rio grazing in the pasture, or count the hummingbirds that had discovered the new feeder. 

The same night the skies had been such a deep orange, in the time it took me to click the shutter again, the orange was overshadowed by the deep gray of the rain that had muted the dust flecks. 
Like drawing a curtain across a stage, the lights faded.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day 2016

Mom and I made a little road trip last Tuesday to Wichita Falls, to pick up deck stain, have lunch, and do a little shopping.  We will repeat our trip in the morning, because we need more deck stain, and another lunch, and one can just not have too many mother daughter road trips at this point in our lives.
As usual, it has been more than I can accomplish in the last 11 days since I arrived, and more than I will be able to accomplish in the 3 remaining days.  I took time today to drive over to Elbert and put a 4th of July remembrance on my brother-in-law's grave.  Lynn served in Viet Nam, and as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, he died at the same age that I am now.  My Sis always said he loved his country, loved his family, and loved to travel, so it just felt right to take that 30 minute drive and say thank you. He always thought I was a little bit crazy, so I sang "American the Beautiful" and the "Star Spangled Banner" and I think he was probably laughing, since I cannot sing, but smiling because we might have been more alike than anyone realized.