Autumnal randomness

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anne of green gables

I know it is November but to be honest the last few days  have felt like early September. Personally I think this quote could just as easily state “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Autumns.”

The autumn of 2015 has been particularly beautiful in my “neck of the woods.” The trees on the mountain sides surrounding my hometown have morphed into a beautiful quilt of yellow, red, orange and green.  I have been distracted while driving not by my cellphone but by the sheer beauty of a tree.

The crispness of the air is delightful in the morning and returns in the evening as the sun sets. Opening and closing the windows of my home has gotten to be a little annoying as I try to regulate the temperature of the rooms and avoid putting the heat on. Hard to believe that a couple of weeks ago I needed the heat on but the last few days have been perfect.

On my weekly drives to Pennsylvania, I have enjoyed watching flocks of  migrating birds fly, swoop and perch on telephone wires or tree branches. I never tire of seeing their creative patterns and formations. I marvel that I have never seen one bird crash into another bird. I mentioned that to a dance class once and a vocal young lady commented “that’s because they have the whole sky.” I don’t think that is the reason they don’t crash. I think they are aware of each other. Not in a “what’s your problem?” way but in “are you okay over there?” way.

I have two friends who love the word “autumnal”. They throw it into the conversation whenever possible. I have to admit. It is a cool word.

Just a few random thoughts on autumn. Thanks for reading. On another note, growing up Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorite books. Prince Edward Island is on my list to visit again in the not so distant future. PEI is a delightful island with a beauty that is serene. It isn’t majestic beauty like the mountains of Maine. It is a calm, peaceful beauty of  beaches, farms and rolling hills.

getting back in the groove

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Sometimes with writing (blogging) as with other things in life you just seem to fall out of step. A new commitment to babysit my grandson two days a week, add to that a couple of speaking engagements and interviews, increased travel to visit my mom and blogging fell to the bottom of the pile. I missed blogging (and I have some other writing I need to work on) so here is my public announcement that I am picking up my pen (well not really because I type) and putting my random ramblings on paper (screen) on a more regular basis. 🙂 I am getting back in the groove.

First up is a few quick recommendations for visiting the September 11 Memorial. Recently people from all parts (former high school classmates, pastors, etc.)  of my life have been asking “can you explain the difference between the Memorial, Tribute Center, One World Observatory and Museum to me?”

So here goes:

  1.  9/11 Tribute Center, 120 Liberty Street is 5 small galleries and walking tours of the September 11 Memorial Plaza. The daily walking tours are the crown jewel of the Tribute Center. Survivors, downtown residents, family members, first responders and volunteers during the rescue/recovery give 75 minute walking tours that include the history of the original World Trade Center, timeline of the attacks, rebuilding, symbolism of the Memorial and most importantly their personal story 9/11 Tribute Center tours started in 2005 and the galleries opened in 2006. This is who I volunteer with.
  2.  The National September 11 Memorial is open daily from 7:30am – 9:00pm. It is an open plaza. You don’t need tickets to visit. Take the time to walk around at least one of the pools so you can experience the size of the buildings. Pools are within the original foot[print of the building. The row of trees behind you when you are at the pool marks the walls of the original buildings – you are standing in the original buildings. The Memorial opened on September 11, 2011.
  3. The National September 11 Memorial Museum is open Sunday – Thursdays from 9:00am – 8:00pm and Fridays – Saturdays from 9:00am – 9:00pm but last entry is 6:00pm/7:00pm respectively. You need to purchase tickets online. Allow at least 2 hours to visit and be kind to yourself. The museum has a lot of amazing artifacts. It is arranged with a in memoriam section and a historical section. Don’t miss the video from NASA. The Museum opened in May of 2014.
  4. One World Observatory is open daily from 9:00am – 8:00pm with last entry at 7:15pm. One World Observatory is the observation deck of the new 1WTC. You will need to purchase tickets. It opened in May of 2015.


My thoughts:

You will get more out of visiting The National September 11Memorial if you do a 9/11 Tribute Center walking tour.

If you are not from “around these parts”, do a 9/11 Tribute Center walking tour of The National September 11 Memorial and go to One World Observatory.

If you have children do a walking tour and then decide if The National September 11 Museum is appropriate for your family. Remember to your children September 11 is history, to you it is current event.

All four places are worth your time and money but you need to pace yourself so do a walking tour (& galleries) your first visit, the museum another visit and the observatory another time.

The Museum is artifacts and information.

The walking tours are stories and inspiration.

The Observatory is cool views.





Travel Tuesdays S3E1- The Whitney

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Yesterday friends and I visited The Whitney Museum of American Art at it’s new location in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan. Cool neighborhood. According to The Whitney’s website:

“The Whitney Museum of American Art was borne out of sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s advocacy on behalf of living American artists. At the beginning of the twentieth century, artists with new ideas found it nearly impossible to exhibit or sell their work in the United States. Recognizing the obstacles these artists faced, Mrs. Whitney began purchasing and showing their work, thereby becoming the leading patron of American art from 1907 until her death in 1942.”

Touring The Whitney was wonderful primarily because  whatever adventure these friends and I embark on is fun but secondarily because the guide/docent we had was excellent.  She (Paula) made me want to learn more about American art history. The way she explained various pieces was so informative but also insightful. She was obviously extremely well-informed but her passion for American art shone through. She made me think and wonder. The current exhibit is entitled “America Is Hard to See”.

“The title, America Is Hard to See, comes from a poem by Robert Frost and a political documentary by Emile de Antonio. Metaphorically, the title seeks to celebrate the ever-changing perspectives of artists and their capacity to develop visual forms that respond to the culture of the United States. It also underscores the difficulty of neatly defining the country’s ethos and inhabitants, a challenge that lies at the heart of the Museum’s commitment to and continually evolving understanding of American art.”

One of the most thought-provoking pieces for me was Fred Wilson’s Guarded View. It is four headless black mannequins dressed in museum guard uniforms. Paula’s comments about the piece truly made me think  – the guards in museums are guarding the art on view but they themselves are on view. However, we don’t see them. She challenged us to look around the room. Even in NYC one of the most culturally diverse places in the world most of the visitors were white and the guards were black. I have been thinking about this piece in light of current events. I have pondering what was written about the piece. I was struck by the fact that Fred Wilson was born the same year I was.



I have a love/hate relationship with art and art museums in particular. Partly because I don’t always believe some of things we are “told” about the piece was why the artist did what they did. I mean maybe they just liked that color paint, or they didn’t have a smaller canvas or whatever. My “issues” with that stem from being a dancer and having people say “they got the piece”. Really?!?  because sometimes that music was used because it was the right length and it inspired me and not for any other reason. All that to say I am sometimes leery of explanations of art but I have to say yesterday I gained a better understanding of American art, my curiosity was piqued, I experienced the connection between art and culture and isn’t that what a museum is supposed to do. Thank you Paula and The Whitney Museum.

To plan your visit go to






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According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, the word random when used as a noun means: a haphazard course: without definite aim, direction, rule or method. When used as an adjective, it means: lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern. I decided to brush up on the definition because it seems whenever I fly I am the person who gets the “let’s see if you have touched explosives swab test.”

Thankfully I am TSA pre approved so I don’t take off my shoes or remove my 3-1-1 liquids from my personal carry on or even take my laptop out of my bag. I usually travel using my passport as my form of identification. My boarding pass is a hard copy as well as on my iPhone. I think I look like a seasoned traveler or at least someone who has done this security line thing before. I say hello or good morning or good afternoon and smile as I proceed through the line. I do what I am told. However more often than not a TSA agent will ask me to step to the side so he/she can swab my hands. And every time the TSA person comments “it’s random.”

I thought I must be confused by the true definition of random because this happens to me all the time thus why I reread the definition. Seriously at least one leg of every flight I have been on involves me being randomly picked for additional screening. I don’t remember much about probability from high school math but I don’t think it is possible for it to randomly be me that many times.

Don’t get me wrong I am grateful we have security screening but this whole random thing confuses me. By definition random makes it seem like there isn’t a plan and I would hope there is a plan. 🙂

Travel Tuesdays – S2E4 – USA

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One of the current quizzes on Facebook is “which states have you visited?” I have visited 44 states. It is easier to list those I haven’t visited opposed to listing those I have. I haven’t visited Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota, Idaho or Hawaii. So a visit to the Deep South, the far North and Hawaii are in order to be able to say I have visited all 50 states.

Each area of the USA has amazing sights to see, regional food to taste and interesting people to meet. Many times while traveling I have marveled at the very size of the USA. Let alone the diversity. To me it is amazing the concept of the United States of America works at all. Some would argue it doesn’t work but it does work on some level.

Some of my favorite spots are:

Grand Tetons

Black Hills

Outer Banks

New York City

Washington DC


San Diego

Lancaster County, PA*


*where my girls and their guys live 🙂

Personally I think the best:

  1. way to see the USA is by car or train (on my bucket list)
  2. places to eat are where the locals eat and the local cuisine (within reason)
  3. places to stay are with family or friends







Travel Tuesdays S2E3 – Central Park, NYC

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The first tidbit that surprised me as the walking tour began was “everything in Central Park expect the large rock formations has been placed here.” Wait, what!?! I assumed it was a big wooded area the city turned into a park. No, it isn’t. To quote the tour guide “it is basically a movie set”. That seems so bizarre but after 156 years I am sure those trees have taken root and those streams have found their own course so it is more “real” than staged.

According to the walking tour guide and the Central Park website:

“Central Park, the first major landscaped public space in urban America, was created in the 1850s as an antidote to the turbulent social unrest, largely as the result of the country’s first wave of immigration, and a serious public health crisis, caused by harmful environmental conditions. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the winners of the 1858 design competition for Central Park, along with other socially conscious reformers understood that the creation of a great public park would improve public health and contribute greatly to the formation of a civil society. Immediately, the success of Central Park fostered the urban park movement, one of the great hallmarks of democracy of nineteenth century America.”

The park would suffer a time of neglect and decay and eventually the Central Park Conservancy would be founded and now oversees, manages and fundraises for the 843 acre park located in the middle of Manhattan. Central Park stretches from 59th to 110th Street between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West (8th Ave). It has a great website and there is even a free app.

I enjoyed the guided walking tour I did with friends late last month. One thing that always impresses me about the park is once you are “in” the park the sounds of the city fade away. Our tour guide said that is because the park is below street level. In the past I have taken a horse-drawn carriage ride through the park and that is a delightful venture. So if you are in NYC and need a break from the “hustle and the bustle”, take a walk in Central Park you will be pleasantly surprised.

Travel Tuesdays S2E1- someplace warm

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Baby, it is cold outside!! Record lows have been recorded in my neck of the woods. To be honest I haven’t been out today so I haven’t felt how cold it is. In trying to decide what to write about I was going to go for the random winter travel thoughts but decided thinking about someplace warm was a better choice. Travel that involves escaping winter cold is always a plus. So here are some random thoughts/stories on winter escapes.

1. My idea of a winter escape is a short flight to some place warm that includes sun, warm water, sandy beach, a lounge chair and a good book or two. Between 2003-2005 I visited St Thomas, Virgin Islands 3 times. Yes, I am a brat. 🙂 I stayed at the same all-inclusive resort each time. My feeling is if I only have 4 days I want to go where I know what I am getting. I wasn’t going to explore I was going to sit on a beach and relax. All-inclusive works great because you don’t have to carry money.

2. One morning while we visiting St Thomas my daughters were sleeping and I was trying to move around the hotel room quietly so I won’t wake them. I decided to look through the notebook of information that most hotel rooms have. As I opened the notebook I saw a green lizard and thought that is a weird place for a plastic lizard. It wasn’t plastic, it was alive. So now I am trying to open the balcony door and throw the lizard outside without throwing the notebook out. All I want to do is scream but I am trying to not wake by daughters. I am flipping out on the inside. Just as I throw the lizard out the door, I hear “mom, what the heck are you doing?” 🙂

3. Whenever I am snorkeling I always remember my husband telling me “you are the visitor, the fish live here.”

4. My daughters, mother and I went to the Bahamas in 2002. On that adventure we learned if the crew of the boat you are boarding are wearing rain gear believe their attire more than their words. Heading back from the dolphin adventure the ride was coming a little more exciting than I enjoy. It was raining, windy and the waves were splashing all around. At one point I looked at my daughters and said “if the boat starts to go down save yourselves and I will take care of Nanny.” I glanced over my shoulder and noticed a young child snuggled in a towel and resting in his mother’s arms. And in that moment I realized it is all perspective. That child wasn’t worried he was safe in his mother’s arm. Thank you Lord that I am always in your hands.