Randy at Martin Guitar

Randy at Martin Guitar

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On being home again...



 I have been off the grid of late, and there is this teeny little window of opportunity.  I am thinking about how often that happens in "real life" and we fail to appreciate it.  I have finally been able to locate my iPad just right, and by standing on one leg while wearing a copper bracelet and wearing a tin foil hat, secure a signal that has actually enabled me to use the Internet to do some vital needed research.  I admit it, I am superstitious and afraid if I move the iPad, I will be adrift in the land without Internet again, so I am perched on the side of the bed, stretching across 18 inches to reach the keyboard, fearful to breathe lest my signal disappear into the gorgeous Texas night sky.

I arrived "home" in Graham Friday morning after an overnight in Arlington, and picking up my great nephew from church camp at 8 a.m.  Sis and her grandson were off to Colorado for the annual two week camping trip with her late husband's family and I am here to be back-up "fetcher and toter"--another leg in the journey of uncharted territory.

Four days into the two weeks, and I have likened it to the non-custodial parent having the kids for the once a month weekend visit.  It is always fun and games, because NCP (non-custodial parent) does not have the same responsibilities and the kids just get to have fun.  So, mom and I have had way too much fun because she just wants to hang out with me.  I keep looking up to see her doing things she does not do....walking down to the corral because she wanted to watch me feed Rio...getting up at 7 this morning to come see if I was "ready to go to town yet."

It is the two-edged sword.  At times like this, it is the mother I remember, and with whom I spent so many wonderful times.  I want her to enjoy more, to try more, to do more.  And, perhaps, it is also that we need the balance--that we give and take so as to make the best of what sometimes is a no-win situation.  I know my sis carries the burden day in and day out, and I also know that most of the time she does it joyfully and willingly.  She is just turned that way.

I love doing what it is that I do and can do, and tend to think it is the all important "system" and how honoring that keeps us in balance.  I am not just playing or entertaining while I am here, no more than Sis is always working.  I mowed this morning, and weeded, and fed, and planted, and cleaned, and fetched and toted and waited...But, I also bought a bird feeder and seed, and a hummingbird feeder and nectar, and got Mom to help me put them up this evening.  Purpose is everything. 












Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bridges in the Northeast

I am a bridge lover since I can remember.  I am fascinated by the variety of shapes, textures, materials, and designs of bridges.  Here are a few from the trip through Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
Bridge over Tennessee River at South Pittsburg, TN
Train bridge from Schuylkill, Philadelphia
Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Viaduct over Schuylkill, Philadelphia 
Ben Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia
Ben Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia
Train bridge over Delaware River from Betsy Ross Bridge, Philadelphia
Walt Whitman Bridge over Delaware River, Philadelphia 
Ben Franklin Bridge from Walt Whitman Bridge, Philadelphia 
Automobile Bridge over Delaware River, Easton, PA 
Train bridge over Delaware River, Easton, PA 
Train bridge over automobile bridge, Delaware River, Easton, PA 
Automobile bridge over Delaware River, Easton, PA
Footbridge, Wasena Park, Roanoke, VA

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why a Martin Guitar is worth the money

We arrived in Easton, Pennsylvania last night for our visit to the Martin Guitar Factory in Nazareth.  We took the amazing tour of the factory, with our equally amazing tour guide Jolene, and I--who have always loved guitar music--walked away with a renewed appreciation for these instruments and their amazing history.  (Yes, I know I am using the word amazing a lot here, but it is hard to think of any other word for this day.)  Not only was it fascinating to see how the Martin guitar is made, and walk through the factory seeing the people who craft these instruments, carrying on the fine tradition of the first C. F. Martin, and hearing how each step of the more than 350 steps in creating the Martin guitar is done, I was totally immersed in the history of this company.  I especially enjoyed learning about how they survived the Great Depression, since I do New Deal research and have become more interested in learning about that era.

After the tour, R tried out guitars in the Picking Room, prior to selecting his next Martin.  He played a few of them, and although he is right-handed, he just had to try the D-28 authentic 1937, which was a left-handed model.  The D stands for Dreadnought.  Apparently, there have been left-handed artists who learned to play on right-handed guitars, but R found it pretty difficult to do the opposite.  Nonetheless, he could not pass up the chance to play the guitar he would love to own--in a right-hand model, of course.  

Afterwards, we had lunch in the local Nazareth Diner, and then did some New Deal research in Nazareth and Bethlehem before heading back to Easton.  Tomorrow is our last day and the all-important VIP night at Martin and meeting Chris Martin IV.  Early Friday morning, we will leave for home.  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Philly Pride Weekend

Today we went in to finish our tour of Independence Hall and some other landmarks.  It appears that in addition to the international soccer match being held here, this was also the annual Philadelphia Pride Parade weekend celebration.  There were upwards of 25,000 people marching and dancing in the parade.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Randy and Susan's Great Philadelphia Adventure

 Yes, Rand and Suz actually are taking a trip!  First time in a long while that we have been able to get away at the same time and it was not to Texas for a hospitalization of a parent or a funeral.  Not that we minded doing those, and will continue to do them until we are the last ones left, but it is nice to be on the road, without much of a schedule, and just enjoying the moment as the spirit moves us.  The spirit today was Philadelphia.
 When we began to plan this trip (which has a lot more to it, and I will be in and out of the chronological order frequently), Rand said he wanted to see Philadelphia because he had never been here.  I was surprised, as he grew up in a family where they generally took a summer vacation every year to a different place, and he had been to New York City as well as to the West Coast.  I have been to Philly twice, but never on vacation.  My friend and I did do a tour bus the last time I was here, but we really did not see much, so it has been a visit through new eyes this time. 
 Frankly, though we took 3 days to get here (and here is relative, as we are staying across the river in New Jersey due to the International Soccer Tournament that has everything in Philly either booked or sky high, it has been a perfect trip in so many ways.  We drove over from Mt Laurel this morning and to Independence Visitor Center where we found the perfect parking space.  We visited with a helpful young woman at the National Park Service desk who gave us information about our options and helped us plan the most for the brief time we will be in Philadelphia. 
We have more coming up to do tomorrow, and have vowed to set the alarm and depart for the city early (although not until after 7:30 AM as the Ben Franklin Bridge will be closed until then tomorrow) and accomplish the rest of our Philadelphia agenda. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Hall Bathroom Remodel

It's even worse than I thought.  I thought it was 2009 when we ripped out this bathroom--right before a 2 week visit from my father-in-law.  It was November 2008.  See the "before" picture below.


 Finally, 7 1/2 years later, this bathroom is finished, too.  I wrote in December 2008:
In the meantime, I need to chalk this one up for future remembering: no matter how simple the job seems, allow 4 times longer than I needed; never do it at the end of the semester; never do it thinking you will be done before company arrives.  At times like these, I just call to mind the people I know in South Africa living in a two room shanty with leaking roof, no bathroom or toilet of any kind, linoleum on top of a sand floor, no running water except for what drips through the roof when it rains, and it helps me get it all back into perspective.
 In July 2010, I wrote:
Randy took off yesterday and today, and combined with his 3-day weekend, we committed to finally finishing this bathroom.  In addition to the toilet, sink, plumbing for the whirlpool tub which has been sitting in J's floor for over a year, it was piled high with other tools, storage boxes, and things better left unnamed. Ever since I lost my favorite spot, it has sort of turned into a catchall big ole trashcan. It was a necessity to clean it up, or else we could not get to tools, have any place to cut sheetrock or tile, etc.
In August of 2010, I wrote:
Yeah, I have a tub.  I can't use it, but at least it is finally in the bathroom.  Yes, another all-day effort.
This was after, of course, the July post about "committed to finishing the bathroom.  Obviously, it took another almost 6 years to see that commitment come to fruition.  In spite of all the trials and tribulations, or perhaps because of them, I enjoy stopping in to admire the completed work every time I walk down the hall.  Seriously, though, almost 8 years to remodel a space that you can stand in and touch all walls from anywhere in the room?  What was I thinking?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Depot

 This c. 1920 one story clapboard building has been covered with vinyl siding according to the National Register of Historic Places inventory for the Downtown Delhi Historic District.  It is described as
...low-key Colonial Revival detailing.  Modillions outline the roofline and gables of this long, rectangular building.  Each end is prominently articulated with gable end returns and a lunette shaped ventilator.  Located slightly off center on each of the long elevations is a gable also accented with end returns and modillions.
The Old Missouri Pacific RR caboose 13497 is displayed at the depot (waymarking.com).  
Like many towns throughout Louisiana, Delhi owes its existence to the railroad.
First in operation as the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas, established in 1861, the line was dismantled by 1863 due to the war (csa-railroads.com).  The Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific was incorporated on December 1, 1879 and operated until 1926 on the Vicksburg to Shreveport route (Mississippi Rails: Mississippi's Railroad History & Heritage).  The line was served by Illinois Central Railroad in 1966 (LSU Libraries Digital Collection), and is currently serviced by Kansas City Southern rail.