Color me autumn

blogIMG_1915Color me…

I suppose nearly everyone can name a favorite color.  It’s usually the color we’re drawn to the most – the one that delights us or perhaps even defines us as a person. 

If red or dark purple fascinate you, you might be bold or aggressive.  If you fancy blues and greens, you like peaceful, calming effects.  I imagine someone who favors orange is outgoing and extroverted.  

If I have to choose a favorite color, yellow it is.  I’m drawn to it like a bee buzzing around a succulent flower.  Yellow just makes me jubilant all the way around.  I find it cheerful, sunny, and just happy.

Because I love yellow, you might be inclined to think spring or summer are my favorite seasons.  After all, those times of year are usually filled with abundant sunshine and brilliant yellow flowers breaking out in vibrant color.

But no, color me… autumn.  Color me a mixed palette of yellows, reds, oranges, golds, and even browns splashed amidst green here and there.

Color me sunshine shimmering through the leaves of ever-changing trees creating a feast for my eyes. 

Color me warm sunny days and cool frosty nights.

Color me acorns and crunchy leaves underfoot. 

And color me blazing bonfires set against an inky night sky.

My favorite color – the hue of me – isn’t just one color at all.  My favorite color is autumn. And I find my favorite color when I venture outside with my camera and allow my favorite color to encompass me.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~ George Eliot

(A note from me: This is a re-post from my October 2013 blog; I thought it worthy of sharing once more. Autumn’s colors have not arrived yet in our area and I’m longing to see them.)

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Words for Wednesday: morning has broken

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“Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as Heaven whispers, do you like it? I did it just for you.”  ~ Max Lucado

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Everything old is new again

blogIMG_8996When is something that’s old and worn out really ready to be thrown away?

In this fad of the times – upcycling, repurposing, reusing – everywhere you look online on Pinterest, home decorating sites, Etsy, etc., you find old items whether from your own stash or garage sale and thrift store finds staying out of the landfills.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing, but it seems like some people have just discovered the thriftiness of that mindset or think they’ve invented it. Look back at older generations and you’ll find doing so was a way of life.

My parents and grandparents were staunch re-users and repurposed a lot. I possess a quilt, probably sewn in the 1920’s or 30’s, which my maternal grandmother fashioned from old feed sack material and worn out dresses. Proof positive of repurposing long before the current times.

Back then, nothing was thrown away that could be used over and over again. Worn-out or broken items were fixed not ditched, and other usable goods were saved for a rainy day. In other words, don’t throw anything away, you might need or want it later.

My parents continued that frugal way of living and I find myself doing it as well. Before I even toss something in the recycling bin, I stop and ponder whether it can be reused somehow.

All of this reminds me of the song, Everything Old Is New Again, written by Peter Allen and Carole Bayer:

“And don’t throw the past away
You might need it some other rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again.”

Which brings me to the photo above. Some of you may be too young to remember when barns had tobacco advertisements painted on their sides. Every once in a while, you may notice an old, faded remnant of those somewhere. But many of those ads were painted over and the advertisements relegated to the “remember when” category.

Recently, there’s been a renewed interest in restoring and preserving the ones that still exist. Many years ago, such an advertisement on the side of a building in a town near us was painted over but apparently not forgotten.

A community project to restore the Mail Pouch Tobacco advertisement on that building was launched and completed last month. Papa and I happened to be driving through that town one day and we pulled over so I could snap a photo of the refurbished wall.

“The best things in life are old, loved, and rescued.” ~ unknown

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Read between the signs

blogIMG_8704.jpgWhere do old, outdated, and worn out highway signs go when they die? I think I found one of the answers.

Abundant highway signs are everywhere, always visible when traveling down any road or by-way. Signs tell us to stop, what route number we’re traveling on, names of streets, when to yield to oncoming traffic.

They warn us of people and animal crossings, one-way streets, curves, and hills. Signs tell us how fast we can legally drive our vehicles, when we’re entering a work zone, when passing lanes end, and when traffic lanes shift.

But have you ever wondered what becomes of old signs? Do they just end up in a landfill somewhere? Or are they recycled?

On one of our day-trips northward, Papa and I exited off the interstate highway (I-79) to search for a restaurant in the town of Meadville, PA. After sightseeing all day and starting the drive home, our empty stomachs gave us signs that dinnertime was approaching.

Paused at a stoplight signaling red, I noticed some unusual art work on the side of the road. Before I could grab my camera to try to snap some photos, the light switched to green.  We continued on to the restaurant we’d chosen, but I was determined to capture that art on our way back to the interstate.

blogIMG_8703.jpgI marveled at the ingenuity and creativity of whoever fashioned this approximately one-quarter mile long art display.  

Several years ago, the Meadville Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) maintenance facility wanted to welcome visitors to town with reclaimed road signs. So they reached out to art professor Amara Geffen from the town’s Allegheny College to help initiate a project.

Working with college art students, PennDOT welders and road crews created the first part of the mural – a sculpture garden of road sign flowers fashioned from cut and welded old, used signs. That clever display consists of 12 flowers, each around 10 feet high.

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Road sign flower garden

Even more discarded signs were utilized to construct a long, creative wall sculpture. This quirky but amazing mural contains blue hospital signs fashioned into ocean waves; a red barn, constructed from stop signs, complete with a white silo made of junction signs; rainbow colored hot air balloons; and other creative sculptures, some of which have moving parts.

blogIMG_8706.jpgThis unusual way of recycling old highway signs caused me to remember an early 1970’s song, Signs, by Five Man Electrical Band.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind

Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

Those song lyrics were written by a man named Les Emmerson as he was traveling in California on Route 66 and couldn’t help but notice that so many billboards obscured the scenic views.

I couldn’t help but think that the art display alongside the road in Meadville wasn’t blocking out the scenery but enhancing it. Instead those signs presented something unusual and interesting to gaze at. And that artwork did kind of ‘break’ my mind.

“In the eighteenth century, it was ladies and gentlemen and swings in a garden; today, it may be Campbell’s soup cans or highway signs. There is no real difference. The artist still takes his everyday world and tries to make something out of it.” ~ Corita Kent

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Words for Wednesday: marriage threads

blogIMG_8866 (2)I never understood those cartoonish caricatures of marriage. You know, the ones that show the husband attached to the old ball and chain as if being married is like being a prisoner.

And likewise, I remember when our children were planning their weddings, I noticed a cake topper which portrayed a bride as ‘catching’ her groom as if she were a spider ensnaring him in her web.

Some folks’ idea of marriage, no doubt, can be explained that way I suppose. But I don’t think of it that way.

Maybe it’s because my own parents’ and my in-law’s marriages were long-lasting and successful. Both of their unions lasted longer than 50 years until the death do us part came to fruition.

It saddens me immensely to see so many marriages fail. And in today’s world, that is the norm. I’ve often read that about half of the marriages in our country end in divorce. But apparently, that figure is changing.

I recently read that according to some studies, the divorce rate dropped 18% between 2008 and 2016.   But in addition to that seemingly good news is another caveat – marriage rates have also dropped. Fewer and fewer people are walking down the aisle and pledging to “love and cherish until death do us part.”

Maybe it’s time we change those tired, old jokes about marriage. It’s true that marriage is a binding contract. You do make vows that should be kept to one another for a lifetime.

But marriage isn’t a prison sentence and it doesn’t come with a ball and chain when two people respect and honor one another. And it’s not a trap you find yourself in when both husband and wife work together, weaving the threads of love and understanding for one another to make their union last.

“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years.” ~ Simone Signoret

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A losing lesson

blogPNC Park1We didn’t get to raise the Jolly Roger.

If you’re not a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball fan, you won’t understand that sentence. So I’ll explain for those of you don’t get it. Whenever the team wins, the Jolly Roger flag is raised – you know, Jolly Roger as in the flag flown by pirates…Pittsburgh Pirates.

Even though the Pirates lost the game (4-1) to the Seattle Mariners, it was still a beautiful night for us to attend a Major League Baseball game in Pittsburgh’s lovely PNC Park, located in the North Shore district of the city right along the Allegheny River.

Back in July, my name was drawn for a door prize at our church picnic and I received a voucher for free Pirates tickets. Summer slid by us quickly though and before we knew it, baseball season would be coming to a close. So we checked home game schedules and our calendars and secured tickets online, making use of that voucher.

We couldn’t have picked a more perfect evening to attend a ball game. No hot and humid weather that day, just nice balmy temperatures and as the sun set, a cooling breeze floated off the river and into the stadium. 

Our seats located in right field behind first base perhaps weren’t ideal but we were very close to the field and I could actually see players’ facial expressions when they were stretching and preparing pre-game.

The Pirates though were not so perfect as the game unfolded. Unfortunately, they haven’t been all season long with a dismal bottom-of-the-rung standing of 66 wins and 91 losses.

And it showed by gazing around PNC Park that evening. The stadium, with a capacity of over 38,000 people, wasn’t even half full of fans. With an attendance well under 10,000 folks that night, PNC was only a quarter full. 

So many empty seats. In the words of the old Take Me Out to the Ballgame song, there certainly wasn’t a crowd nor a lot of “root, root, root for the home team.” Actually, it seemed as if more noise and applause came from a small section of Mariners fans instead of the home team supporters.

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Too many empty seats!

Sad, I thought. And demoralizing for an already losing team.

We watched patiently as each Pirates batter either struck out or hit pop up fly balls resulting in quick one, two, three outs. There was more action on the field on Pittsburgh’s part at the end of the fifth inning when the “Great Pierogi Race” was held than during the game. Click here if you want to know what that’s all about.

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The Great Pierogi Race. (Not one of my best photos, but you get the idea.)

Pitching was no better especially when the hurler allowed the Mariners two home runs, one right after the other.

Needless to say, those nine innings of baseball didn’t result in a long game. ‘Fans’ started leaving the game even before the game ended.

And of course, this gave me food for thought.

I wondered what effect the lack of fan support had on those players. I know they’re baseball professionals, they garner boatloads of money to play, and they’re used to the ups and downs of the game, winning or losing, but they are still human. And humans have emotions, positive and negative.

Did it discourage the team when they noticed there were so few fans in the seats? When very few people even clapped for them when the starting line-up was announced? That lack of fan support had to bother them somewhat.

And where were all the baseball fans? Are they that fickle? What’s up with that? Human nature, that’s what’s up.

Why is it that we only seem to get behind winners? Why do people, other than true, die-hard fans, only want to attend games to cheer on a winning team instead of supporting and encouraging a losing one?

We can’t all be winners all the time and yet, that’s what our hearts desire. If the Pirates had been enjoying a winning 2019 season, I guarantee you that ball park would be crowded and full of fans screaming at the top of their lungs.

There’s a good lesson for life in this. When you’re down and out, that’s when you need someone rooting for you, someone in your corner, someone who has your back. Someone who will sit with you, even in defeat, and say, “You did your best. Keep trying. I’ll still be here to cheer you on.”

You know, that’s the kind of person I want to be in life and it took a losing baseball game to remind me of that.

I want to lift up those who feel like they’re failing, those who are downtrodden, with words of encouragement and cheer. It’s more difficult to be the one who stays until the bitter end of a losing battle than running wild with the winner’s mob.

But you know what? It’s worth it.

“There are four words that, when said, will bring out the best in your team, your employees, and your family. They are: ‘I believe in you.’” ~ Coach K

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Bridging anxiety

blogIMG_8529 (2)For some folks, bridges are frightening especially those high, long spans across a wide body of water. You’d think with my trepidation about deep water, I’d be one of those who suffer from gephyrophobia – a fear of bridges.

The word gephyrophobia is literally derived from the Greek words for bridge (gephyra) and fear (phobos).  For those who have this phobia, it might stem from being claustrophobic (fear of being enclosed) or afraid of heights (acrophobia).

Just the thought of crossing a bridge can induce anxiety for some people. Bridges have never bothered me to that kind of extent. Instead, I actually like them and I find I’m partial to photographing them as well.

Perhaps it’s because growing up where I did in western Pennsylvania, there were bridges everywhere since rivers, creeks, and streams abound and must be crossed to get from one place to another. It’s just a part of daily life.

I do remember a couple of times being on a bridge gave me a little consternation though. Back when I was a middle and high school student, I rode a bus to school each day and that bus, along with many others, had to not only cross the bridge into town but sit lined up on that crossing because of a traffic light.

I can recall sitting on the bus as we bounced up and down when opposing traffic crossed the bridge, especially trailer or coal trucks. It never occurred to me to be frightened until we heard the news about a bridge, very similar to our town’s bridge, collapsing in West Virginia with traffic sitting on it. 

After that, our bus driver told us that if our bridge should ever give way and we sank into the river, we should kick out the bus windows and try to swim to the surface.

I’m relieved to say that never occurred and that bridge still stands today and is heavily used, although a highway bridge was constructed just a mile or so south of that one where more traffic and trucks now cross.  

As I look back, I can only name one other bridge that kind of gave me the willies. To cross the river from the rural township where my family lived to a neighboring small town, we had to drive over an old metal bridge.  That one did not have a concrete floor, so you could see through the metal to the river below.

It was also narrow and when I was a novice behind the steering wheel of a car, it made me a nervous wreck to drive across that bridge. Thankfully it’s now long gone, torn down several years ago and replaced with a better concrete version.

blogIMG_8531After we visited Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay area this past summer, one of my blogging buddies told me that there are companies that will drive those who live on the eastern side of the bay but work on the western side and just cannot make themselves drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  That never had occurred to me, but it makes sense for those who fear driving across that bridge since it’s a long one.

Recently, Papa and I were chatting with a relative, much younger than us, at a family reunion. We were discussing various places we’ve all vacationed from one time or another, and somehow we landed on the topic of bridges.

He and his wife had honeymooned on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, so they had driven there via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  Now THAT bridge – we’ve driven it, but I really don’t like it, not because it’s a bridge but because it’s a bridge that tunnels UNDER the water. Kind of creeps me out.

Our young relative agreed. He had no problem driving the CBBT on their way to their destination but on return trip, he suddenly became extremely anxious as they were approaching that bridge. 

It was very windy and he was suffering with swimmer’s ear and he thinks the combination of the two was making him feel very unsteady, especially while driving. So he had to pull over and ask his newlywed wife to drive. Fortunately, she didn’t have a problem doing so.

For me, it doesn’t matter whether I’m driving or just a passenger, I’m not too willing to use that bridge tunnel ever again, thank you very much.

But I see inspiration when I view a bridge. I compare it to living life.  When we can’t cross from one place to another in our journey of life, we become stuck. We’re stymied. We’re stagnant. Stuck in our old ruts. Stuck in one place emotionally, mentally, or spiritually because we can’t or won’t cross a bridge to get to the other side.

Maybe that’s why bridges fascinate me. They provide a way to get over what hinders me.

“Make a decision. Cross the bridge.” ~ unknown

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Words for Wednesday: summer farewell

blogIMG_8304The summer season’s fading fast, not quite relegated to the past but coming so very close. Officially, summer doesn’t end until September 23 but signs of its demise are in full view. 

Those vivid, colorful flowers on the front porch have just about reached their limit. Here and there, a bright red/orange leaf is peeking out amidst the green ones on our trees. The nights are cooler and darkness descends its inky curtain sooner each night.

And with summer’s ending, my posts about our summer vacation are also coming to a finale.

So it seems fitting to end my series with this photo I shot on the Atlantic Ocean in Bethany Beach, Delaware. This path led to the beach, a favorite spot to relax and unwind on a summer’s day.

But as we herald a new season, there will be many more paths to take. Hopefully, Papa and I will travel a few more times this fall and possibly even during winter. 

Each path takes us to someplace special, to new memories to make, different sights to see. And for each one, we are truly grateful as we enjoy this empty nest semi-retirement gig.   

“Life takes you down many paths but my favorite ones lead to the beach.” ~ Unknown

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com