Friday, October 2, 2015


My part of the world has been obsessed for the month of September with the visit of the Pope.  Many hours were spent on the local media talking about all the preparations and traffic plans. Now that it has concluded, they have continued to talk about the recovery and how it affected the region in the traffic, public transportation and local businesses. It became known as "coping with the Pope." It was good to see that people were willing to look at it with humor and interest even if they weren't Roman Catholics.  It was good also to see that nothing undesirable happened and people were safe. Many positive things occurred as a result, and there were warm, fuzzy stories that left people feeling that it was worth the complications.
We watched segments of the event on TV and we didn't even consider moving from the couch to participate. We had already had our moment of Serendipity in April 2013 shortly after Pope Francis was elected and began his Papacy.
On a Sunday morning, we were taking a tour in Rome on April 21, 2013 and stopped at the Vatican. We went into St. Peter's Square and it quickly filled because the Pope was due to speak. We could see the window in the building where the banner was hanging and where he would speak.
It was a very crowded square and people had brought many very small children because there was a celebration of youth on that day. Everyone seemed so excited and they were very well behaved as a large crowd. When the Pope entered the window, a cheer went up, then the crowd became very silent until he finished speaking. He spoke to the crowd for about 15 minutes and we recorded a movie of the event.
It was a very exciting day, and not one we had planned. We just took a tour of Rome and that was where we happened to be at the time the Pope spoke. We aren't Catholic, but it was very uplifting to see so much good will among so many people. It was an orderly, respectful, well-behaved crowd. We were very fortunate to be there at exactly the time the event occurred so it was a once in a lifetime experience. We enjoyed it even more because we had not planned it. We were just in the moment going with the flow.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

High Roller

On our last trip to Las Vegas, we were eager to experience the world's tallest observation wheel. The trip on The Linq at the Quad takes 30 minutes and each pod can hold up to 40 people. There were only five in our pod on a Tuesday afternoon. We paid $25 each for the ride. It was a spectacular structure and I don't mind heights, but now that we have done that, I doubt that we will do it again for a long time. We saw it during the day, but I suppose night views are very different. 

Each pod didn't seem large, but it could hold a lot of people. We were fortunate that we could move around and see each view in all directions. As we boarded, the wheel kept moving and we jumped on board through the open doors. I suppose they stop it if a handicapped person is boarding. 

It seemed quite roomy inside the pod because we only had five people in our pod.

The view from the top of the circuit looking to the north at the hotels on the Strip.

The structure to hold the apparatus was every superlative I could remember.

Cars and buses on the ground seemed tiny.

The view to the South along The Strip.

Pictures taken through the pod glass often had reflections. 

I like how they developed the new area that approaches the structure because it sits back from the main street, Las Vegas Strip. There are shops, restaurants, and hotel entrances along the two blocks that are pleasant to see as you walk toward the High Roller. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pennies For............

The educator in me roars to the forefront when my grandchildren visit and I do my lesson plans to have activities for them, hoping we can spend some memorable time together. Thanks to a very bright lady's web site, I found an activity involving pennies.

We collect spare change in a plastic container in my kitchen, so I separated the pennies into two groups--the shiny pennies, and the dark pennies. I put them into different dishes and my granddaughter who is nine has a great curiosity about stuff so I asked her how they were different. She quickly saw that some were shiny, and some were dark. Then I asked her why they were different but she didn't know. So I asked her if we could make them the same. She thought that the dark pennies could be made shiny also.

I asked her how to make the dark pennies shiny and she said we should wash them in soap and water which we did, but it didn't change the pennies. I asked her if there might be other ways to change the pennies. Since her mom cleans things with vinegar, she suggested vinegar. We tried vinegar and nothing happened. She suggested that we separate them into two different dishes and try different things on them and keep in mind what worked and what didn't. According to my "lesson plan," salt should be added to the vinegar and I asked her if that might work. She thought that would be a great idea so we added salt to one container and let it soak several minutes. We had not measured quantities in either dish. We let them soak and some pennies became brighter, and some did not.

When I asked her why, the whole family got involved. My hubby was a metallurgist in grad school, and told her about the metallic content of pennies. My son was a chemist in grad school and looked online which showed us how that the metallic content changed with different dates of production so she started looking at the dates of all the pennies. He told her about the oxidation process and why the Statue of Liberty is green. Her mom was a business major, so she told her how much it costs to produce a penny and how it isn't worth what it costs to make it. Her younger brother played with the shiny pennies and counted them to be part of the event.

They had to go home before we finished the whole project, and she asked me to leave the pennies separated into groups so we can analyze the experiment and draw some conclusions. We will also go into some web sites that suggest other methods like Tabasco sauce, lemon, or coke for making pennies shiny and the chemistry gets really interesting when combined with a nail.

I had already printed some sheets listing the Scientific Method for elementary school children so when she returns, we will go through the process and she can see what we did and how to present the results. I did not want to introduce the paper in the beginning, I just wanted to get her involved in the process and analyze it later. She was very good at suggesting variables and we will recap those details later. She will be learning a new vocabulary based on a simple activity. She had a really exciting experience, and I loved how the whole family got involved. I enjoy working on these projects with her because she is so excited to explore new experiences. I like to make learning fun for her and kitchen chemistry is cool.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Klutz of the Week

It has not been a good week for my right hand. When I was sewing a new set of kitchen curtains, I had put pins in a hem, and caught a finger with a pin--still gives me chills when I think about it. I hate sticking myself with pins, but it happens when one has a sewing project.

Next day, another finger got a plastic cut like a paper cut, but it was from the sharp edge of a plastic bubble form that fits over my calligraphy box. I don't think of my self as a klutz, but stuff keeps happening. I always try to be careful, but I will have to try harder.

I reached over my desk to pull the cord to open the front curtain in my office this morning. My hand slipped and I impaled my thumb on a sharpened pencil in one of those cups where you store pens and pencils. The grandchildren like to use the electric sharpener to sharpen pencils, so every pencil they could find now has a very sharp point. I'm great with 20/20 hindsight.  I took them out of the cup and stored them in a desk drawer but too late to save my thumb.  I turn pens down with the points at the bottom, but the pencils were sticking up--not a good plan.

As if that wasn't enough, I returned from the gym and proceeded to make coffee in the coffee maker. I was washing the carafe before putting water in it when I started to move it from the sink to the counter top and caught the edge on the sink. It just popped a hole into the bottom where the glass curved. It wasn't very thick glass for sure, and the carafe is a pain to wash because the top doesn't detach. It fits against the coffee basket so it depresses it enough that you can remove the carafe enough to pour one cup of coffee before the whole carafe is full. I had another carafe in the basement with a different coffee maker that I didn't like and it is kind of similar, but not quite. It isn't quite as tall. It works, but I have to hold it up about an inch to get it to depress the coffee basket enough to drip the coffee. What a pain.

I will have to see if Mr. Coffee sells a carafe replacement. I got it at Target and have to return something else tomorrow. For that very reason, I refuse to pay tons for coffee makers because it isn't the first carafe that has been broken in this house and the carafe is the secret to their ability to sell so many coffee makers. They make them with lids that attach to the carafe which makes it harder to wash them and then they get broken more often. If you can't get a replacement, gee, you have to buy another whole coffee maker. Also the carafe is different shapes and sizes for all the coffee makers even if they are all 12 cup carafes. More than anyone wants to know about coffee makers. I had three old ones in the basement and not one had the same size carafe even though they all hold 12 cups. I gave one to Goodwill and it might have been one that would have fit--can't win. I may have to just buy another coffee maker because the carafe will cost as much as a new coffee maker. The coffee maker I was using is so new I haven't even cleaned it with vinegar yet.

So I hope my right arm and hand don't fall off from all my injuries. I often laugh at the Sunday column that Lisa Scottoline writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer, because she finds a lot of humor in all the crap that happens during her week, but I have a harder time writing about it in the humorous way that she seems to write. I haven't found the humor in it yet, but it must be there somewhere.

Monday, January 12, 2015

January: A Photo Essay

The photos chosen look best when viewed full screen. Click the double window to the left of the words "Make a Photoshow" to view full screen.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

An Art Show

Between snow storms, we attended an art show for Delaware Charter Schools, one of which is the school our eight-year-old granddaughter attends. It is astounding to see the variety and quality of works produced by student artists.

A shark vacuum.

I am encouraged to see that the schools continue working with students in this area along with the basic academic programs. Kids greatly benefit from the time they spend on these projects and learn incredible lifetime skills. It is all too easy to cut the arts programs first when school budgets falter, but it is at great expense to the future of students. Art shows give the kids an opportunity to show their work, but also to build greater support for the concept of learning through art.

Man on a snail climbs a mushroom.

Our granddaughter is in 3rd grade and she had three entries in the art show.  It was a large exhibition of student art work and I took a few pictures of some of it. The students were very proud of their efforts, the show was well-attended, and everyone was very supportive of their works. I wish I had taken more photos. We were caught up in the moment and enjoying it with our family.


When our grandchildren visit, we work on projects like mobiles, sock puppets, pinwheels and paper airplanes. They like to paint, but creating simulations of rocket ships or dioramas are more interesting to them. People learn in different ways and the arts give kids many choices to develop their creativity. We enjoy the time spent working on projects and talking about them. It is a great way to spend time with our grandchildren. Recently, my granddaughter and I created this aquarium diorama.