Posted in Life, photography

Words for Wednesday: a little fall

The expanse of our 2+ acre yard is still verdant green. The jaunty red petunias gracing our flower boxes hanging on the front porch railings are still blooming with color.

Plants in our perennial garden beside our backyard deck still look healthy and happy to brighten up the view. And the maple trees dotted throughout our property still don their green-leafed coats.

Sunshine still warms the daytime hours, but mornings and evenings have become significantly cooler. Goldenrod is abundantly visible across the road. (Achoo, for allergy sufferers.)

And then…I found it…a tiny harbinger of the coming season.

A little bit of fall.

While on a brisk walk in the chilly air one dewy morning a couple weeks ago, I happened to look down at the sidewalk under my feet. It was tiny. But my eyes zeroed in on it.

The first fallen autumn leaf.

No bigger than an inch and a quarter long, it sported the outgoing color of summer with its bit of green, but the incoming hues of fall with its red and gold.

Fall. My favorite season of all. And it’s soon arriving in force. I welcome it as I do every year.

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” ~ Oscar Wilde

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: a little water music

From waterfront to waterfalls. From the ocean’s coast to the mountains’ woods. That was next on the itinerary.

The Jersey shore lighthouse tour ended on Papa’s and my summer road trip this past June. After a long day stopping at each of the eight beacons on our list to view, we arrived at our hotel for the night tired but feeling accomplished.

Back to Pennsylvania we drove the next morning on yet another sightseeing mission – a drive through the northeastern part of the state including the Pocono Mountains and the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area. We’ve driven through there several times before but always on our way to another destination.

This time we planned to stop and check out some sites we’ve heard about but never seen and two of those locations included beautiful waterfalls. In the past, our travels took us to gorgeous, dramatic waterfalls – Multnomah Falls in Oregon when we lived in the Portland area and Niagara Falls on both the New York and Canadian sides come immediately to mind– so it’s hard to compare any others to those magnificent ones.

But we found two falls near Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania to be a worthy view and extremely relaxing and peaceful after our busy lighthouse road trip.

We located Dingmans Falls quite easily near Dingmans Ferry, PA and parked at the visitor center, a National Park Service site which offers an information desk manned by Park Rangers.

There you can purchase national park passes, view educational exhibits, acquire free park maps and brochures, browse in a gift shop, and schedule Ranger-guided tours.

Although no picnic facilities or food services exist, there are public outdoor restrooms, water fountains, free parking, and free access to the walking trail. It’s also important to note that pets, with the exception of service animals, aren’t permitted in the visitor center nor on the trail to the falls.

The center usually opens Memorial Day and closes after Labor Day, but grounds are accessible daily from sunrise to sunset. However, the road to Dingmans Falls only is passable in spring once wintry conditions subside and the trail to the waterfalls is also open spring through late fall.

Dingmans Creek Trail, a flat boardwalk trail from which you can view two waterfalls, begins at the visitor center and is only 0.4 miles long. We enjoyed that cool, shaded walk through tall hemlock trees and huge rhododendron bushes.

The first waterfall was the 80-foot-high Silver Thread Falls, where we paused for several minutes just to listen to the cascading water and enjoy the scenery of this place in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

We continued along the easy boardwalk trail which led us to the base of the second highest waterfall in Pennsylvania, Dingmans Falls which is 130 feet high.

Since we were the only ones there for a while, we parked ourselves on a wooden bench just to gaze at the waterfall as it gushed down the rocks providing a mesmerizing yet soothing sound of rushing water. Industrious visitors can also climb 240 steps up a steep staircase to the top of the waterfall.

I enjoyed taking photos of the same waterfall from different angles.

The photo above shows the top portion of the falls.

Since we were there in early June, the rhododendrons weren’t in full bloom yet, but I imagine Dingmans Falls would be even more beautiful then and again in autumn when the leaves are turning their brilliant colors.

Those waterfalls weren’t the only ones we viewed that balmy June day. Next week on my Tuesday Tour, I’ll highlight another gem we found in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains that same day.

“There’s no better place to find yourself than sitting by a waterfall and listening to its music.” ~ Roland R Kemler

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in family, grandparenting, Life

Words for Wednesday: simple moments

Every September, my thoughts go back. Back to school. As the days remain warm but daylight winds down earlier and evenings become much cooler, I remember that September, for many, is back to school month.

When I was school-aged, going back to school was exciting, not a drudgery like so many make it out to be. And when Papa’s and my children were off to school, I was excited for them. Learning something new was interesting, getting to be with school friends great, and there were plenty of fun activities to attend as well.

This year, Papa and I watched as our oldest grandchild climbed aboard the big yellow school bus and headed off to second grade. Then we smiled as we received, by text messages, first day of school photos of our other two grandchildren, who live far away from us. They went to kindergarten and pre-school for the first time. Already?!

Their happy and excited faces told the story. Going to school is fun!

But before our oldest and nearby grandchild began her first day of school, Papa and I planned some activities for those last few days of summer vacation. Since we are her caregivers while her Mommy works, we often have entire days to spend with her.

Usually when Little One’s school year ends, she and I compose a list of fun things to do during summer. The list items vary from picking vegetables or fruit in the garden to romping at a playground to making crafts or a project to day trips somewhere enjoyable.

This past summer, we added having a tea party to that list and she didn’t forget that. So, one morning the week before school began, she wanted to hold our little tea party for lunch.

After a short discussion of what a tea party entails, I allowed her to set the menu and she prepared the food, with a little help from Nana. She also arranged the goodies on a three-tiered fancy glass party plate.

For our first course, she decided we would have fresh strawberries, green grapes, and sliced oranges. Next were small peanut butter sandwiches cut into triangles and bagel-style crackers with cheddar cheese slices. Our last tier included fudge stripe cookies and graham cracker sandwiches filled with marshmallow crème.

We ventured to my china cabinet so she could gather the “good” silverware, china plates, and a small silver tray for the tea bags. Brewing tea from tea leaves will be learned at our next party.

She set the table herself, rolled up cloth napkins and inserted them into rings, and chose (from Nana’s collection) teacups and saucers each of us would use (we invited Papa to our tea party too), and which of Nana’s teapots to hold our hot water.

She then searched for an assortment of different flavors of tea bags and placed them on the tray.

Delighted with her choices, she could hardly contain her excitement when we sat down to enjoy our party and discussed good table manners and etiquette. Our tea party wasn’t elaborate, just a simple one my grandchild orchestrated mostly by herself.

Such a simple little pleasure that only took a short amount of time to make her happy. I hope she remembers all these special moments she enjoys with her Nana and Papa.

I know, for certain, we will.

“Simple moments with your grandchildren often become the most priceless memories.” ~ unknown

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: not the last

It seemed fitting that we saved the oldest for last.

Our one-day driving tour up the Atlantic coast of New Jersey to view eight lighthouses was coming to a close. It was late afternoon, but since it was a beautiful June day, we still had lots of time before the sun would set on our journey.

We had one last lighthouse to see – Sandy Hook Lighthouse – located within the Gateway National Recreation Area, a national park open 6 am-9 pm daily.

The lighthouse itself is open daily for tours between 1-4:30 pm and while we did not arrive in time for a tour, we still were able to go inside the keeper’s quarters/visitor center which remains open until 5 pm.

In conjunction with the Navesink Highlands (where the Twin Lights Towers I highlighted last week were erected later in 1827-28), the Sandy Hook point was an important landmark for ships coming into the Lower New York Harbor back in the early days of our country’s colonization and exploration.

After numerous and costly shipwrecks occurred at the site because of unseen sandbars and shoals, New York merchants requested a lighthouse be constructed at Sandy Hook and property was acquired for that purpose in 1762.

On June 11, 1764, a 103-foot-tall lighthouse was illuminated for the first time, making it the oldest lighthouse still standing in the United States.

Fearing the lighthouse, originally called New York Lighthouse, would be apprehended by the British in the early days of the American Revolution, its light was ordered to be dismantled by the New York Congress. However, the British enemy forces repaired and controlled the light for most of the war and survived a patriot raiding attack in an attempt to destroy it.

After the war, the states of New York and New Jersey argued over who owned the beacon, but control of all lighthouses was given to the federal government in 1789.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse was refurbished in 1857 and refitted with a Fresnel lens when an iron lens house, called a lanthorn, was added to the tower. A new keeper’s dwelling replaced an old one in 1883.

Another aspect to the area was added when Fort Hancock was constructed near the lighthouse. Huge concrete gun batteries were placed there to defend the New York Harbor’s entrance. Buildings and many of the gun batteries still stand there today.

By 1939, the US Lighthouse Service was eliminated, and the US Coast Guard was charged with maintaining Sandy Hook Light and still does so today. Sandy Hook’s fixed white light shines 24 hours a day and is visible for 19 miles on clear nights.

An interesting fact is that when erected in 1764, this lighthouse stood only 500 feet away from the tip of the Sandy Hook spit. But as ocean currents moved up the coast, the tip extended out further into the harbor and 100 years later, in 1864, the lighthouse was 4,000 feet from the tip.

Currently, it now stands even farther at 1 ½ miles from the northern end of Sandy Hook. While many lighthouses have had to be moved to safer locations farther away from eroding land, nature actually deposited more land between the lighthouse and the water.

In 1964 on the 200th anniversary of Sandy Hook Lighthouse’s first illumination, the lighthouse was declared a National Historic Landmark. The National Park Service took ownership in 1996 and the New Jersey Lighthouse Society partners with the service to preserve this oldest beacon in our country.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse was the last lighthouse we visited for the time being. But hopefully, it won’t be the last ever.

We plan on future travels to view many more since these beautiful and picturesque beacons are some of Papa’s and my favorite sights to see. And I’ll share those good moments here.

But for now, my Tuesday Tour posts will venture elsewhere.

“Enjoy good moments while they last, then make sure they’re not the last.” ~ Constance Friday

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in Life, societal issues

Words for Wednesday: twisted twisters

Have you ever played a game of Twister? Our oldest grandchild likes it and this ol’ Nana and Papa try to play it with her but usually only go one round before some body part starts to ache.

Twister is a silly game that first came on the market from the Milton Bradley company in the late 1960’s and I remember thinking it was really fun to play when I was a kid too.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Participants play on a large plastic mat you spread out on the floor. Printed on the mat are six rows of four colored circles – red, yellow, green, and blue – all lined up by color. Players use a spinner which tells you where you must place your right or left hand or foot and on what color.

As the game proceeds, players practically must be contortionists to follow the directions and end up twisted this way and that. It was often advertised as the “game that ties you up in knots.”

Is it just me or do a lot of folks in our current society find themselves tied up in knots? And I don’t mean just trying to utter tongue twisters like “rubber baby buggy bumpers” quickly said several times.

A funny admonishment I’ve heard people say is “Don’t get your shorts in a knot.” Well, today it seems, too many people’s shorts are twisted into knots of anger, plain old meanness, and they are too hasty to spout off loud, divisive opinions when they don’t agree with you.

Don’t like this politician? Scream in rage. Don’t like this or that media’s report? Shout out your wrath. Don’t agree with your neighbor, your co-worker, or your family member’s opinion? Respond with antagonism and name calling.

For heaven’s sake, vitriol was even spewed on social media about the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Hateful, vile things said, wishing her a painful death.

Twisted. It appears to me that our world is more twisted than ever. Not only does it seem people are more infuriated or incensed with resentment, but they’re also more willing to provoke and annoy others to the point of fury. What ever happened to simply agreeing to disagree?

We can’t or won’t because we’re twisted. And so much all around us is twisted as well.

The news is twisted – one source says one thing, and another says the complete opposite and we’re left not really knowing what to believe. Who is telling the truth? Who promotes fabrications? Can we even believe the so-called “fact checkers” because who is checking that they are telling the truth?

Even what we view as “entertainment” is twisted.  Movies, television shows, music – so much of it promotes darkness, the seamy side of life. Evil, violence, sick and twisted plot lines.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of it. That’s why I hardly watch television at all and seldom do Papa and I even go to the movies let alone rent a DVD to watch any more.

Just recently, I became aware of an animated series being advertised that appears to really be twisted. And what “gets my shorts tied up in a knot” is that it twists beliefs that I have as a follower of Jesus and promotes evil. Because it’s animated no doubt teens and probably children will view this program. A double whammy against this show in my book.

It angers me when young people, especially children, are subjected to…call it the dark side if you will. Childhood should be a time of innocence. They will learn all too soon how evil permeates this world, so I believe we should protect our young ones’ minds, hearts, and spirits above all.

And It bothers me tremendously when people twist God’s Word. And that is done so much of the time. People who call themselves teachers and preachers can easily twist scripture, take a verse out of context, and make it fit whatever their agenda may be.

It’s not hard to do. You just find a verse and try to make it say whatever you want it to say. That’s why it’s important for me as a believer in Christ to study God’s Word carefully – not just read a verse and try to interpret it however I want. Instead, it’s vital to read the entire passage, chapter, or even the book of the Bible it’s found in to put it into proper context.

The Apostle Paul urged his fellow missionary Timothy to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

If I listen to someone’s sermon or message, it’s my responsibility to make sure what is uttered is accurate and found in God’s Word as Biblical truth.

And even Paul’s words were weighed and measured by a group of believers known as the Bereans to ascertain that what he said was truth.  “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11 NIV)

We’ve got to figure out how to untwist ourselves, discern what is true in this world and what is false because even history is being twisted.  And what kind of history – true or false – will survive for future generations? How will they know and recognize truth?

“Too often the past has been twisted to fit the visions and agendas of the present.” ~ Thomas Sowell

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: day to remember

There are days that you will never forget as long as you live. Some of those days contain lovely memories you treasure as one of the best days of your life, yet others can be categorized as one of the worst times ever.

“People always remember the worst day of their lives. It becomes a part of them forever.” ~James Patterson

A tragedy or an occurrence so horrific, it’s seared in your memory. Those elderly Americans still living today remember the day of infamy, when the United States of America was bombed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

For many of us senior citizens, we remember the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

Still others vividly recall January 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded just seconds after lift-off killing all onboard.

Another one of those tragic days burned into our thoughts is September 11, 2001. On that fateful day, terrorists coordinated hijacking four commercial airliners and crashing them into strategic places on U.S. soil (New York City’s World Trade Center’s two towers, Washington D.C.’s Pentagon).

The fourth attack intended for either Congress or the White House failed because heroic people onboard intervened, but that jet crashed in a rural Pennsylvania field taking the lives of all passengers and crew.

The result was thousands of Americans lost their lives including first responders, several more thousands were injured, and our country plummeted into shock and terror.

I remember that day – morning actually – when I heard the news. Disbelief, alarm, fear…so many emotions raced through my mind. I was attending a two-day work training in the state next door with a colleague. Several participants left training because they had loved ones living in New York City.

Our seminar was interrupted again by the news that one of the planes crashed in western Pennsylvania. Shaken to the core once more since our families and homes were there, my co-worker and I were stunned and so very frightened.

Phone lines were jumbled and we couldn’t reach our families, whose safety we worried over. We had no access to television, no internet (this was before we had cells capable of that), and we had no idea where that fourth plane had gone down.

Fortunately, we had driven to the training, so that afternoon we cancelled our hotel reservation and hightailed it back home to be with our families. I’ll never forget the horror I felt that evening at home when I watched television news coverage of those unspeakable acts of the day.

Our sense of safety and protection was shattered that 11th day of September or 9-11 as it’s often referred to, and the horrendous events remain etched in my mind even after two decades.

Papa and I viewed the 9-11 Memorial in New York City several years ago and we’ve visited the Flight 93 National Memorial site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania twice, experiences I won’t forget.

While on our lighthouse road trip on New Jersey’s Atlantic coast this past summer, Papa and I unexpectedly found a quiet spot which also memorializes victims of that hellacious day.

We had just arrived in time to walk the grounds of two lighthouses at Twin Lights State Historic Site in Highlands, New Jersey before the complex gates closed at 4:30 pm. As we drove away to “proceed to the route” as Siri instructed us to our last lighthouse stop, Papa noticed a sign for a place called Mount Mitchill.

On a whim, we decided to investigate, made a turn, and found a spot definitely worth a little detour.  

Mount Mitchill, located in Atlantic Highlands, NJ at 460 Ocean Boulevard, is the highest natural elevation (at 259 feet) on the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Yucatan, Mexico.  The hill was named by a surveying expedition in 1816 in honor of  naturalist/botanist Dr. Samuel Lathan Mitchill.

Today a 12-acre park, Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook is part of the Monmouth County Parks system which preserves and manages more than 17,000 acres of county land.

On a clear day, overlook visitors can appreciate an amazing view of Sandy Hook (six-mile long barrier spit where the Gateway National Recreation Area is located), Raritan Bay (the lower part of New York Bay), and New York City’s skyline including four of the city’s five boroughs.

Sights that are 14-24 miles away like the city’s Verrazano Narrows Bridge (pictured below), Statue of Liberty, and Empire State Building can also be glimpsed from the overlook. Binoculars would be most helpful, or folks can use the coin operated view finders.

And while we definitely admired the view, we also appreciated a nice 9-11 Memorial dedicated to 147 people, either those born, raised, or residing in Monmouth County who perished in that monstrous terrorist attack, and also honoring the rescue teams and area citizens who responded to help.

Names of those who lost their lives are carved on a black granite base which supports an eagle stone sculpture created by artist Franco Minervini. The eagle clutches a beam from one of World Trade Center towers that was destroyed (shown at this post’s beginning).

The walkway leading to the memorial details the timeline of that terrible day. The monument, funded and built by donations, was dedicated in 2005.

Another memorial stands in the park too – simply a large flagpole flying the American flag and an eight-sided plaque commemorating eight soldiers who died rescuing American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran in 1980.

Park goers can enjoy other areas of the park, including a children’s playground, but since time was fleeting and one last lighthouse to view was on our list for the day, we only gazed at the amazing view and quietly observed the 9-11 Memorial at Mount Mitchill.

The park opens at 7 am daily year-round and closes at dusk, is free to the public, and is a peaceful place to pause and remember. Even though doing so is difficult, some days should never be forgotten.  And we pray they never happen again.

“No matter how hard we try words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September 11 will go down in our history as a day to remember.” ~ Billy Graham

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in inspiration, Life

Words for Wednesday: Peeling back the layers

Onions make me cry. And eating raw onions make my stomach say, “Whoa there, why are you eating that??”

As a result, I tend to pick raw onions off salads but cooked onions in small quantities in various foods don’t seem to bother my finicky stomach as much.

But oh, I do like deep-fried onion rings and onion blossoms or blooming onions as they are sometimes called in several restaurants. Yum, yum. They make a delicious appetizer, although I know deep-fried onions aren’t the best for your health.

“That would be cool if you could eat a good food with a bad food and the good food would cover for the bad food when it got to your stomach. Like you could eat a carrot with an onion ring, and they would travel down to your stomach, then they would get there, and the carrot would say, It’s cool, he’s with me.” ~ Mitch Hedberg

Cooking with onions does enhance flavor in lots of recipes and I read somewhere that there are health benefits to eating them raw or cooked. For instance, onions are low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals. They contain antioxidants that may protect against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. So, it’s a good idea to eat your onions.

And it’s safe to say from the following photo, someone somewhere was getting a truck load of them. This past summer as we were tooling down a four-lane highway during one of our road trip excursions, we passed several trailer trucks loaded with bags and bags of onions. Nothing but onions.

From the quick glances as I snapped photos with my cell phone, I noticed some were yellow onions and some were purple.

Perusing those photos once more, I got to thinking about onions and how when I was a young’un I didn’t want to eat them at all. Too strong for my baby-like palate, I guess. And now they make my eyes water when chopping them no matter what tricks people say to use to eliminate that response.

There’s an old saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” But what should you do when life gives you onions? When circumstances happen that make you cry or give you heartburn (heartache) in the worst way?

“Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” ~ Carl Sandburg

For me, I turn to Someone way bigger than I am, way stronger than I could ever be, way wiser, way more powerful. I turn to the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I pray, I seek His wisdom in my Guidebook for Life (Holy Bible), and I rest in knowing He can handle any of my layers of trouble and tribulation with His perfect timing, His perfect answers, His perfect plan.

Is it easy? No, it certainly is not. We are complex humans with complex problems, more layers to us than an onion. And we seem to think we can handle everything ourselves. We can’t. But God can.

We just have to have faith. Allow Him to be our center as we peel back the layers.

Let go and let God.

“I think sometimes that people are like onions. On the outside smooth and whole and simple but inside ring upon ring, complex and deep.” ~ Karen Cushman

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: two for one

We found the old 1960’s song, “Time is on my side, yes it is..” to be false on our one-day road trip up the New Jersey coastline to visit lighthouses.

Unfortunately, time was not on our side.

We hoped to arrive at the Twin Lights Historic Site, also called Navesink Twin Lights, in Highlands, NJ before the grounds parking lot gates closed at 4:30 pm.  We made it in the nick of time 25 minutes before that but not early enough to step inside the two towers or museum, where doors promptly shut at 4 pm.

We strolled the grounds though and marveled at this historic site atop the highest landmass on the Atlantic coast between Maine and South America. We found it fascinating.

Two lighthouse towers (hence the Twin Lights name) are connected by a museum and gift shop. The entire complex was constructed with brick and sandstone and completed in 1862, replacing previous towers that once stood there.

Situated 200 feet above sea level, the lighthouses look over not just the Atlantic Ocean but also the Shrewsbury River, Sandy Hook, Raritan Bay, and the New York City skyline across the harbor can be viewed from there.

The site’s maritime history is rich. During the Revolutionary War, a whale oil lamp was kept burning there until 1828 when two bluestone towers, North and South Towers were erected.  

The towers became the first American lighthouses to use Fresnel lens in 1841. During the Civil War, the complex that exists today was completed. South Tower became the most powerful lighthouse in the United States by 1898 since it was the first in the country to generate its own source of electricity.

Visible for 22 miles, the South Tower beacon could also be seen reflecting in the night sky some 70 miles away. Because the light was so intense, the North Tower was no longer needed as a navigational source of light.

Apparently, South Tower’s illumination was so powerful back then local farmers reported their cows couldn’t sleep at night and then wouldn’t give milk in the mornings!

Used as a navigational aid until being decommissioned by the US Coast Guard after 121 years of service in 1949, Twin Lights did continue to be used as a private navigational aid. The Borough of Highlands acquired the property in 1954 and transferred it to the state in 1962.

This preserved historic site is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places and named a National Historic Landmark.

Even though our visit was brief, the site was fascinating, and we’re glad we didn’t miss viewing it.

Both the North and South Towers, one square shaped and one octagonal, can be seen from a distance since they stand on a high point. Although they no longer guide ships into the New York Harbor, the site’s historical importance is certainly noteworthy and visitors will enjoy this scenic place.

The square South Tower.

The octagonal North Tower

Twin Lights Historic Site is open daily and visitors can take a self-tour free of charge. Just be sure you arrive between the hours of 9 am and 4 pm.

Both towers can be climbed for an admission fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children. Guided tours with site historians must be scheduled ahead of time: adults at $12 and children under 12 at $2.

Luckily for us, the next and last lighthouse we scheduled to visit didn’t require sticking to the hands of time.

And since our journey was in June, those long summer days gave us plenty of opportunity before the sun set to view that last beacon. Also by happenstance, we discovered a surprising site we never knew existed to visit along the way.

“We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.” ~ Vince Lombardi

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in Life, photography

Words for Wednesday: in the pink

I spy with my little eye. It’s one of those fun guessing games learned in childhood that helps pass the time. When our oldest grandchild is with Papa and me, we play it often, especially when we’re riding in the car.

Likewise, when Papa and I are traveling on a road trip, I try to keep my eyes open for a photo opportunity – something picturesque, something eye-catching, something unusual and unique. And often, I spy “with my little eye” something to cause me to grab my camera or cell phone and ask Papa to stop the car.

On a recent day excursion while driving through a residential area of a nearby town, a flurry of pink caught my eye and I exclaimed to Papa, “Did you see that?!?”

He accommodated me by turning our vehicle around so we could drive past one particular house once more.

You might say this house was “in the pink” – literally. That phrase usually refers to being in good health or excellent condition. Actually, that saying can be traced back hundreds of years to William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, where he wrote “the very pink of courtesy” which meant perfection.

I’m sure the homeowners who decorated their front yard the way they did probably thought it was perfection. For me, I just thought it was unique and photo worthy.

Not only was the house’s front door painted bright pink, but the windows were also trimmed in pink paint.  But wait! That’s not all!

The small front yard was decorated with pink flamingos. Not just one or two but several including a giant blow-up pink flamingo waving in the slight breeze. Now you understand why it caught my eye.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and I remember when people placed pink plastic flamingos in their yards and gardens. I never quite understood why but those pink birds were a fad back then and they were everywhere – wallpaper, curtains, pictures, you name it, pink flamingos were on it.

An artist/sculptor named Don Featherstone, who worked for Union Products in Massachusetts, is credited with creating the flamingo lawn art in 1957. Pink was a popular color back then, and Featherstone, using National Geographic photos of flamingos as examples, created a molded plastic painted pink sculpture – a pair of flamingos.

Pink flamingo lawn art became the rage when stores began selling them in the early 1960’s. By some point, the pretty in pink birds became a symbol of tackiness though, and their popularity waned over time.  

But in the last few years, those quirky, kitschy birds began showing up once more in yards of homes or businesses. Sometimes, they’re used for fundraising campaigns for charities. Other times, you might be the recipient of a prank when under cover of darkness, someone sets up a pink flamingo invasion outside your home.

When the “flamingo flocking” represents a charity fundraiser, a sign identifying the charity and reasons to donate to it usually will accompany the plastic birdies. When you are a “victim” of a flocking, you are supposed to pay a fee to have the flamingos removed and can then select the next victim where the flock can “land.”

But it appears some homeowners just want to demonstrate their quirkiness or that they have a unique sense of humor by placing pink flamingos in their yards and gardens. Apparently, some believe displaying pink flamingos outside your house will bring you good luck. If that’s the case, these homeowners are VERY lucky!

I’m not certain why that yard we spied was full of flamingos, although not all of them were pink. It didn’t appear to be charity driven as the only sign visible declared “Show Kindness.”

Maybe the folks that live there were demonstrating their originality for all to see or maybe flamingos are their favorite birds.

Or maybe they desired to generate a little light-heartedness and levity into the world and bring a smile or laugh to passers-by.

It worked for us. I couldn’t help smiling and giggling a little as I quickly snapped those photos.

“As long as there is pink in the world, it will always be a better place.” ~ Unknown

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: untimely but timeless

Time was ticking away.

The Atlantic coastline of New Jersey runs about 130 miles long and we traveled from the southern tip to the northern one on our June road trip to visit lighthouses there. We started early one morning and were determined to stop at each of the eight structures on our list – all in one day.

After a slightly disappointing view of two of those beacons, we entered the quaint little town of Sea Girt, with a population of less than 2,000, where the lighthouse of the same name sits at Ocean Avenue and Beacon Boulevard.

For us, the only unfortunate aspect of this beacon, integrated in Victorian-styled living quarters, was that it’s only open to the public (free) on Sundays. And we arrived on a Saturday.

But it was so worth seeing anyway even if our arrival was untimely.

The square red brick tower is attached to a keeper’s dwelling and was built to stand in the almost 40-mile gap between two other lighthouses. When Sea Girt was first illuminated in 1896, its beacon could be visible 15 miles out to sea.

The tower is 44 feet tall and because it’s integrated into the keeper’s quarters, it was the last live-in lighthouse built on the Atlantic Coast.

This guiding light served to save at least 400 people in 1934 when a luxury liner headed for New York caught fire. Sea Girt’s beacon guided passengers and crew to shore in stormy weather when orders to abandon ship were declared. Sadly, 137 others lost their lives in that tragedy.

By 1939, authority over Sea Girt Lighthouse was transferred from the U.S. Lighthouse Service to the U.S. Coast Guard and because of World War II, its beacon, like all U.S. lighthouses at the time, was extinguished to protect our nation’s coastline from enemies. The lighthouse was then decommissioned in 1945.

With unuse, the federal government placed the lighthouse and property for sale in 1956. The borough of Sea Girt stepped up and purchased it and used it for many years as a library and community/recreation center.

However, by 1980, the lighthouse had deteriorated and required major, expensive repairs resulting in its closure. Concerned Sea Girt citizens came to the lighthouse’s rescue, formed an all-volunteer, non-profit organization to restore it, and assumed responsibility for not only maintaining the structure but also preserving its history.

Fully restored and furnished according to its historical era, Sea Girt Lighthouse is open for special events and guided tours 2-4 pm Sundays except for holidays.  

Since this lighthouse was closed when we arrived, we stayed just long enough for me to capture a few photos. Then with our eyes on the time, we headed out with two more sites to see before the sun would finally set on our journey.

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” ~ Sam Levenson

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