Onward and upward

blogIMG_9448Onward and upward. That was our goal on our October road trip to Michigan.

After being awed and inspired by our day-long (which wasn’t ample enough time) visit to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, we traveled north.

Our next stop for the night would be St. Ignace, a small Upper Peninsula town on the shores of Lake Huron, just across the famous Mackinac Bridge (more about that later).  

As day turned to dusk, the view outside our vehicle’s windshield still continued to cause me to keep my camera handy. The further north we traveled on a highway not busy with traffic, trees displayed their autumn glory in rich color.

Having been deprived of such beautiful fall displays in our home state for the last couple of years, I reveled in the sights. Fall, after all, is my most favorite season of the year. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

We crossed into the Upper Peninsula via the Mackinac Bridge in the dark so we couldn’t see much of that amazing five-mile long suspension structure that connects the two peninsulas.

But we could tell it was pretty windy as we crossed and rain was falling. Unfortunately, by the time we reached our hotel destination, the weather forecast wasn’t promising as rain continued steadily during the night.

We scrubbed our plans for the next day – visiting Mackinac Island – because the forecast called for 90-100% rain all day long. Instead, we decided to just go with the flow. Get in our car and drive even farther north just to see what we could see. An adventure on less traveled ‘blue highways.’

blogIMG_9372 (2)And we found some treasure troves that day like the photo above. As temperatures plummeted during our unplanned day trip, the air became crisper and sharper and the scenery became even more beautiful. And then snowflakes flurried through the air.

On more than one occasion, Papa had to stop the car or find a place to turn around after I would exclaim, “OHHH, look at that!” and wanted to capture a photo. (He patiently supports and understands how much I enjoy taking pictures and I’m so thankful for him.)  

We wandered as far north as Lake Superior and found lighthouses to visit and the site of the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, an American freighter which sank during a storm on Lake Superior in November 1975. The entire crew of 29 was lost in the lake and if you’re older mature like me you may remember a song recorded by Gordon Lightfoot about that tragedy.

Finally, to wind up our random day trip excursion, we found ourselves in the northeastern end of the Upper Peninsula at the St. Mary’s River in Sault Ste.Marie.

There we stood for over an hour with 20 or so other folks on an outside observation deck, shivering in the cold, but determined to watch a 740-foot long Canadian freighter  travel through the St. Mary’s Falls Canal (called the Soo Locks) connecting Lake Superior with Lake Huron, which is actually 21 feet lower. 

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Canadian vessel moving through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie

Had we driven any further, we would have crossed a bridge into Canada. But since we didn’t have passports with us to get back into our own country, we just waved to our neighboring country from the American side of the river.

We traveled a lot of miles that day but the sights we observed and visited made even a cold, almost wintry day well worth a few shivers. And we also realized what a small world this truly is.

While waiting for the freighter to travel through the Soo Locks, we began chatting with another couple, who were also tourists. The gentleman had a distinguishable southern accent but we could tell from our discussion he had been in the military.

As we conversed, he asked us where we were from. Since we hail from a rural area outside a small town that most folks have never heard of, we usually just answer with the name of our nearest city because it is ‘just down the road’ from us.

Of course, this gentleman wanted to know what part of the city we lived in, so we had to explain that we actually reside outside the city near a small town. He was persistent in asking what the name of that was, so we finally told him.

His face lit up and he said, “I’ve been there!” And he proceeded to name the little village across the river from our hometown. Why on earth had he visited our neck of the woods? He once had a military buddy from our hometown.

There are so many big sights to see in this seemingly big world, but as Papa and I have discovered, we can travel for hundreds of miles yet meet up with someone who has something in common with us. 

Taking a detour from our itinerary showed us it just might be a small world after all.

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Extraordinary hallway

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Hallway to the entrance of Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Light. It’s an important and necessary aspect of daily life.

I’m one of those people who like the light. When the sun doesn’t shine for days, when overcast skies are the norm, I tend to get a little grumpy. But when Mr. Sun makes an appearance, I do a little happy dance inside.

Light, or the lack of it, definitely affects my mood. As we head into the downhill slide of the year, into the late fall/early winter days ahead of us, it will soon be time to change our clocks. Fall back, spring forward is the rule.

With the clock turned back and the world spinning closer to the shortest day of the year in December, we will have less light each day. Darkness will descend on us like an inky-colored curtain blocking light from entering a window.

And even though, I do relish the colder, crisper days that we’ll soon experience, I will miss the light.

I’m just an amateur photographer, a hobbyist really, but I do know that light is imperative in photography. Proper lighting makes a huge difference in how a picture turns out, not just in terms of brightness and darkness, but also lighting sets the mood for a photo.

Often how I observe light falling on a particular object or in a certain way causes me to pull out my camera and try to capture what I see so clearly with my own eyes.

That happened several times during  Papa’s and my autumn journey to Michigan. As we were walking down a long hallway in the enormous Henry Ford complex en route to the Museum of American Innovation, I grabbed my camera and started shooting.

The hallway was ornately decorated and quite beautiful, but the light…the light as it beamed through the windows and doorways…the light turned the hallway into something extraordinary.

It also reminded me of an extraordinary verse in God’s Word about Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of our souls: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).

As we followed other folks on their way into the museum down that light-filled hallway and I kept taking photos, another thought came to my mind. I’ve often read and heard accounts of people who “died and came back to life.”

In almost all of those accounts, those who experienced this reported that they traveled toward a light. Some talk about having gone through a tunnel of light.

Might that be the hallway to heaven? Some claim it is. I don’t know.

I just know that I will follow my Savior, the Light of this world, throughout this life.  And when the time comes that I must depart from this place, He will be the light that leads me into heaven someday.

“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” ~ Aaron Rose

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Words for Wednesday: A Glass Full

blogIMG_9150 (2)That day, the glass was completely full. Not half-empty, not half-full, but full to the brim. Full of color, full of sparkle, full of beauty.

During our recent journey to Michigan, Papa and I spent an entire day touring the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn admiring treasures from the common to the famous. The entire museum is absolutely a treasure trove.

My museum and history loving spouse reveled in each section of the facility and I found more than enough to whet my appetite for taking photos.

Some of the most beautiful exhibits are housed in the Davidson-Gerson Modern Glass Gallery of the Henry Ford.

Enthralling and intriguing works of art made entirely of glass provided many ohs and ahs from both of us as we viewed the displays.

The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” proves most appropriate since I can’t even begin to describe in words how intricate and amazing the glass art we observed was.

So I’ll show you just a few of the pieces we appreciated.  It was a challenge getting photos of the glass art encased behind glass, but I think you’ll still enjoy these. 

I can’t imagine the creativity, ingenuity, and amount of time it took to create these glass sculptures.

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Davidson-Gerson Modern Glass Gallery  in the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

“I can’t imagine a world without glass.” ~ Jamie Hyneman, MythBusters co-host

©2019 mamasemptynest,wordpress.com

 

 

Something in the water

blogIMG_9118Must be something in the water.

I’ve heard that idiom so many times and I believe it is probably something we Americans say that causes other nationalities to scratch their heads and say, “Whatever do they mean?”

When we utter that remark, we don’t mean it literally but generally we use that phrase when something strange or unusual happened and the only explanation you can come up with is that there’s something in the water everyone is drinking to make that occur.

For example, when several women you know are expecting a baby, you might say, “Must be something in the water” to explain such a prevalence of pregnancy.

It’s just a silly way of offering up a reason.

So I don’t know if there actually IS something in the water, but for me, there’s something ABOUT the water. There’s something that draws me to it. There’s something about sitting oceanside, lakeside, riverside, or beside a creek or waterfall that just creates a restful, peaceful feeling in me.

Part of it may come from my faith in Jesus Christ because in my faith, water is a very powerful symbol and is used often in God’s Holy Word. The Psalms speak of thirsting for God, the “spring of living water.”  Jesus himself offered us living water in the form of His grace, the gift of salvation.

So water always seems to call to me to come near.

On Papa’s and my recent excursion, our travels took us to several of the Great Lakes. Prior to this trip, we had often been to Lake Erie here in our home state of Pennsylvania, but had never driven along it in our next-door neighboring state, Ohio.

Since we were on our way to Michigan and our route first took us to Toledo, Ohio, we opted to take the blue highway along Lake Erie instead of the interstate.

As always, taking the less traveled route provided different perspectives and was the more scenic. We passed through several lake towns and stopped a couple of times when lighthouses were in view.  

Lighthouses are one of our favorite landmarks to spot, and I love taking photographs of them. (I’m still hoping to do a photography series here in my blog of just the photos of all the lighthouses I’ve captured in pictures.)

We took a little detour off our route to visit one of the lighthouses along Lake Erie but were disappointed to find the structure was undergoing some renovation so it was covered. But we enjoyed a little walk around the area, stretching our legs, and basking in a lovely fall day.

And as usual, the water called to me. We walked along the lake there, stepping carefully amid the rocks, and my camera just kept clicking.

As gentle waves lapped ashore on the rocks, I thought about the ripples in moving water. Even in a still body of water we can create ripples when we skip stones across the surface. We produce a change when we do so.

That causes me to consider the ripples I may make with my words and deeds, which probably cannot make a major change in the way this world works. But I can influence the ‘world’ around me, here in my own little corner of it, by the things I say and do.

Contemplating that as I view my photos of Lake Erie makes me realize ripples, even my little ones, do go out further and further than I realize. May my ripples always be encouraging to others and pleasing to my Lord.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~ Mother Teresa

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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

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