Extraordinary Stories

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Friday, January 31, 2014

The "Suk with Flair" Story

Suk Shuglie at work in her gallery.  She told me she paints
almost every day except Sunday and sometimes Mondays
It was an ordinary day.  Talking with Suk about her life in Seoul, South Korea while looking over the multitude of flowers and sheep hanging on the wall.  I'm standing in Suk Shuglie's art gallery talking with this interesting, knowledgeable, petite, energetic and creative artist.  A few weeks ago I was working at Grebinger Gallery framing a beautiful painting titled "Love in Tuscany" which carried the signature of Suk Shuglie in the bottom right of the painting.  
A recent painting by Suk Shuglie titled "Love in Tuscany"
which I was framing for a customer at Grebinger Gallery.
As I was attaching the canvas into the frame I had just assembled, I said to myself, "I have to make a visit to Suk's Gallery to see what she may have that I might want to buy."  While talking with her, I picked up one of her beach paintings that she had painted a few years ago. Told her I would have to bring in my wife to take a look at it.  
A print that I may add to my collection of beach art.
Suk's background is an interesting one.  One of eight children, she was born in Seoul, South Korea, but grew up on a farm in Yesan, a town about 100 miles to the south of Seoul.  She studied art throughout her younger years, but when she met her husband, Wes, an American whom she met in South Korea when he was sent there because of his employment, her chances for advanced art education were greatly enhanced.  She returned to the United States with her husband and then obtained a degree from Pennsylvania School of Art and Design in Lancaster, attended Millersville University and was invited to several summer workshops at Pennington College in Vermont.  

Suk has many paintings which feature sheep as seen here.
Her prolific talent allowed her to win a position in the Master Painting program at the Academia Di Belle Art where she had the chance to spent a month in Florence, Italy.  She shared with me her photo album from her studies in Florence which brought back many memories from my trip to Italy about 10 years ago.  At first, when coming to the States, she painted to relieve her homesickness, but friends and artists in the States helped her to adjust.   Since that time she has won numerous awards and has had her work published in many magazines as well as displayed in many galleries throughout the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.  
A view of Suk Shuglie's Gallery in Lancaster, PA
She opened her gallery in 1997 at 1320 Manheim Pike in Lancaster to better show her work to the public and her husband became the full-time framer of her work.  She recently lost her husband and has relied on her church to help with the grief she has experienced.  Suk describes her paintings as a form of impressionistic expression, since they suggest particular, intimate details as well as universal features.  She paints in both arylics and oils. My visit with Suk showed me the talent that this artist possesses and her gallery gave me an idea of the body of work that she has done over her lifetime.  As someone else has written, She gives lasting life to moments of exalted experience, each one having its own strength and subtlety and beauty, each on her strokes a line of life.  Now true!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of nan ordinary guy.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The "History From Both Sides" Story

Front cover of The Daily New Era in Lancaster, PA.
It was ordinary day.  Telling Keith about an old newspaper that I found while going through a pie safe we have on our second floor landing.  Bought the pie safe close to 30 years ago, but have no idea when and where the small gray box appeared in it.  Today at Grebinger Gallery I was matting and framing an old deed dated 1898.  The customer wanted to be able to see both sides of the document when it was finished.  I have matted and framed a few other items that you could see both sides and this one would be no different.  I first cut the double mats to the customer's dimensions then mounted the document on a piece of glass rather than a piece of acid-free foam board.  After mounting the document using acid-free tabs, I place the mat over top of it.  Pretty much the same as on a regular job except for the substitution of the glass for the foam board.  Next I cut the chosen frame to match the matting.  On this job I used a piece of Museum Glass for the front glass.  This glass will not only block UV rays, but is also reflection free.  Expensive also!  
Putting the finishing touches on the framed document.
Placed the Museum Glass into the frame followed by the matted job.  On the rear of the job I next, very carefully,so as not to create any cracks in the bottom glass, use the wedge driver to hold the job in place against the Museum Glass.  Then, I use double-faced acid-free tape to attach a second double mat of the same color.  Now both the front and rear of the document can be seen and they both feature matting.  Only difference, one side will be against the wall and that side of the frame usually doesn't carry any decorated moulding.  The job looked great after I used some black paint to paint the rear of the frame and added Wall-Buddies to hold it on the wall.  These are placed on the corners so you do not have hooks and wire to block the view from the rear if you chose to take it off the wall to view.  
Finished double-sided framed document I did at Grebinger Gallery.
I'm sure by now I have lost quite a few of you, but if you examine the photos you can see what I am talking about.  My old newspaper I had shown to Keith is a souvenir of the Inauguration of President Harrison.  It was a supplement to the regular newspaper, The Daily New Era.  It was published in Lancaster, PA on Saturday, March 2, 1889.  The newspaper was originally called the Lancaster Examiner when it was first started in 1887.  The supplement that I have is a four-page document that shows 7 Presidents on the front and 16 more in the center foldout.  The rear of the supplement is a page of advertisements from Lancaster that features an ad for the well known architect, C. Emlen Urban.  Ads also appear for Watt & Shand, one of Lancaster best known department stores, Kirk Johnson & Company Pianos and Organs as well as Reilly Bros. & Raub, a hardware store in downtown Lancaster.  I now have to figure what to do with my find.  Do I mat and frame it as I have just done with the deed?  Maybe I could place it on eBay and try and sell it or maybe take it the Lancaster Historical Society and donate it to their collection.  Then again I could put it back in the box and someday another generation of LDub's family may open it and wonder what to do with it.  The saga of the supplement will continue for now!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - The owner of Grebinger Gallery, Keith, made a video of my finished framed document.  He emailed me a copy and my granddaughter Courtney helped me place it on Youtube.  I have attached a copy that you may see.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The "Those Lazy, Crazy Days of Winter" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Sitting in front of my computer thinking I have to go turn up the temp- erature on the thermometer to maybe 68 degrees.  During the day we keep it at 65 degrees to help with energy costs, but when I'm home during the day and trying to type on a keyboard with old, cold fingers, it doesn't make sense.  The weather we have been experiencing in the north-east has been unbelievable.  Cold temperatures in the minus category with wind chills that make it feel like it's Alaska.  Only problem with that is that it's warmer in Alaska right now than it is in Lancaster County, PA.  Just how cold is it, you ask?  Well, it's so cold that the other day the fog was freezing and causing mishaps on the roads.  
Creamsicle contemplates whether he
plans to ask to go out or not.
 It's so cold that I have to wear mittens instead of gloves or my fingers hurt.  It's so cold that when my nose runs while shoveling, the snot forms an icicle from the tip of my nose.  It's so cold that the driveway, even though it is free of ice and snow, allows the paperboy to slide my newspaper about fifty feet uphill on it's surface to my garage door.  It's so cold that a window in my family room which was left slightly ajar and when it rained, the rain eventually froze and now the window won't shut, and won't until it reaches 32 degrees and allows the ice to melt.  So cold that when you spit out your car window the spit freezes before it hits the ground.  So cold that my plastic snow shovel cracked and split in half when I tried to shovel the snow.  And, it's so cold that Creamsicle, the cat, who constantly sits by the back door wanting to go out, would rather take a day-long nap than risk freezing his feet on the cold surfaces outside.  And, the prognosis for warmer weather doesn't look too good.  
And, his response!
 Probably going to be another week or more before we even reach freezing!  Yeah, I know it's freezing out, but I mean 32 degrees.  And to top all that, the Superbowl is allegedly going to be played next weekend outside in this weather.  The football will be sooooo hard that there will be dropped passes, overthrown passes, punts gone astray and kickoffs going who know which way.  So who was the smart one who was influenced enough to allow the game to be played in the north in an outdoor stadium?  And, for those who question global warming.   Well, because of dangerous carbon dioxide (CO2) emission levels which have been placed in the atmosphere by excessive and unnecessary use of fossil fuel use, the polar vortex has begun to warm, pushing all that cold air that used to be there to the south.  Farther south than even Alaska, therefore sending our local environment into a deep freeze.  Schools around here have been closed several days this winter, not because of snow or ice storms, but because of temperatures in the near zero range which makes standing out in the cold for any length of time dangerous for the younger school age children.  Only with responsible use of our world's fossil fuels will be be able to bring change to the environment.  So there's your answer!  Now I must stop writing and go turn the temperature up a few degrees so I can type some more.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The "The Last of the Conestoga Indians" Story

It was an ordinary day. If you are a reader of this site then you probably will remember a few stories that I have written about the Conestoga Indians who were massacred in the south end of Lancaster County and the remainder of the tribe who were under alleged protection in the county jail when the Paxton Boys stopped by and murdered them.  
The old Lancaster Jail where the Conestoga Indians were murdered.
Well it seems that the city of Lancaster isn't going to let this 250 year old event go unnoticed.  It seems to be a black-eye on the community and needs to be resolved.  How, I'm not quite sure, but something needs to be done to make it right.  Sacrificing 26 Lancaster citizens certainly can't be the answer, but there has to be an answer!  These dual murders, 6 unarmed and peaceful Indians slaughtered in Manor Township and their town known as Indian Town was burned to the ground and then 20 more killed after being pulled out of their jail cell and savagely murdered, most by scalping and others with arms and feet chopped off, in front of the jail.  The guilty party, the Paxton Boys from near Harrisburg, PA were never held liable for the heinous crime they committed that December 27, 1763.  A conference was just held in Lancaster where 80 concerned citizens and historians gathered at the Millersville University's Ware Center which is located across the alley from the historic Fulton Opera House in Lancaster where the jail originally was located.  
This is the plaque that will be erected near
the Fulton Opera House in downtown Lancaster.
It was there that the Conestoga indians were killed.
At the end of the conference Lancaster City Mayor Rick Gray unveiled a state roadside marker that will be placed near the Fulton Opera House on N. Prince Street.  The marker reads in part: "They were killed by a vigilante group, the Paxton Boys.  No arrests were made."  Many residents still, after 250 years, are upset that these mounted frontiersmen from Dauphin County got away with murder.  Why didn't the local authorities who were given the job of protecting the Indians in the local jail take a stand?  Will we ever know?  Some think that Edward Shippen III, Lancaster County's chief magistrate, had advance warning of the Paxton raiders intentions, but did little to bring the killers to justice.  One person at the conference said, "This is a pretty town … but this place is a result of many growing pains and much hurt."  When I was going through the Manheim Township school system I never once studied the events of the massacre.  
The Reverend Thomas Barton from St. James
Episcopal Church in Lancaster.  He was holding
a church service as the Indians were massacred
three blocks away.  He is said to have informed
the Paxton Boys about the service, telling them
that most of the able-bodied men would be at
his church at the time of the massacre.  He also
was eventually given the 400 acres where the Indians
lived in Manor Township known as Indian Town.
At least I don't remember that I did.  I know that I hated social studies at the time, but this certainly would have made an impact on me.  Why was that part of Lancaster's history forgotten?  Kinda sad to look back 250 years and say that was awful, but should we now turn our backs to this awful event?  A little over a month ago 35 people gathered at the rear of the Fulton Theatre in downtown Lancaster, where part of the original wall of the jail still remains, to hold a candlelight vigil in memory of the Native Americans who were slaughtered at that location.  Sad to think that this ethnic cleansing would not have happened if the people of Pennsylvania had not broken the treaty that had been given the Conestogoas by William Penn in 1701.  It was at that time that he gave them 3,000 acres of land in the Manor Township wilderness to call home. He also declared that the English and Conestogas "shall forever hereafter be as One Head and One Heart."  That treaty lasted only 16 years, since Penn's sons wanted the land for themselves.  
Eventually only 400 acres remainded of the land, but all through the land grabbing, the Indians remained peaceful, learned English and were loyal to the crown during the French and Indian War.  So why did the group of 50 armed riders from the Paxton area near Harrisburg kill the remanding Conestogoas?  
This is the rear of the Fulton Opera House
where a few days ago 35 people gathered
to hold a candlelight vigil in memory of
the 14 innocent Conestoga Indians who were
murdered there 250 years ago.
Did the killers picture themselves above the law?  And did Lancaster's leaders chose to let them get away with their crime?  When Ben Franklin found out about it he was infuriated!  He predicted that "Justice, though slow, will come at last.  All good people everywhere detest your actions."  Maybe, but not in Lancaster!  At the time the murders occurred, most able-bodied men were three blocks away from the scene at church at St. James Episcopal, where I now attend.  By the time Rev. Thomas Barton heard what had happened it was too late for the men in church to act.  But, it was believed that Barton was an accomplice to the crime, telling the intruders the time of the service and later defending the crime.  Edward Shippen was a prominent member of St. James and was perhaps in cahoots with Barton.  Squatters from Paxton began laying claim to the 400 acres, but were made to leave and Rev. Barton was given the land.  Something fishy here don't you think!  At least that's what I thought until Leo, a friend from church and our church historian, told me that the Rev. Barton actually ministered to the Native Americans in Lancaster.  He was a close friend of Sir William Johnson, who was the British superintendent of Indian affairs, who sent his part-Native American son to live with Rev. Barton to further his religious studies.  After the massacre Barton asked Sir William to grant the Conestoga land for establishment of an Indian school.  Sir William turned him down, but did grant Barton the use of the land five years later to farm to support his family.  Doesn't sound like Rev. Barton was up to no good to me.  Well, no one was held accountable and the town of Lancaster gained a big black eye from the entire injustice.  Seems to some, and I guess I am one of them, that the massacre from 250 years ago remains a grim moment in local history.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The "Pi is a Rational Number, Pie is an Irrationally Delecious Dessert" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Having a piece of pie.  My favorite!  Oh yeah, a scoop of ice cream on it.  Why not?  The reason why I'm having the piece of pie? It was National Pie Day last Thursday!!  You forgot all about it I'll bet, didn't you?  Well, it's not too late.  That's why I'm having my pie today.  The American Pie Council decided to continue the holiday until tomorrow.  So I'm having another piece tomorrow, also.  And maybe the next day too.  Hey, have to use up the half gallon of vanilla ice cream I bought just for the holiday.  Of course it's not really a half gallon, but that's another story.  Tell you the truth I had totally forgotten about National Pie Day until Larry Alexander, staff writer for the Lancaster Newspapers, wrote a column about the holiday.  Seems all people with the name Larry love to eat pie.  He even told me that pie isn't just a dessert; it's a tradition.  It certainnly is in our house.  Now, some days are more suited for pie such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, my birthday, my wife's birthday, Ground Hog's Day, National Pie Day and odd and even days of the week.  On my birthday my wife puts the candles on the pie and then sings Happy Birthday to me.  The American Pie Council, which I told you extended the pie holiday, was the group that said pies have to be round and decided how many flies have to be placed in a shoe-fly pie.  They also declared apple pie as our nation's favorite and named Don McLean national pie spokesman.  Not really, but who ever heard of a square pie?  There are certain traditions in our house that go along with pie baking.  
Carol's favorite pie plate.
They are:  On holidays when we have guests for dinner, always make two cherry pies so there will be some left over after the guests have had dessert; the cherry pie that gets cut last has to be made in the "special" pie plate.  Carol asked me years ago if I would ask Jim, the art teacher in the room next to my classroom at Manheim Township High School, if he could have someone make her a pie plate that would last forever.  
Mark Urban '77 dates the rear of her pie plate.
I kinda put it to Jim as a joke, but he had Mark, his best student, make that pie plate, and it has lasted at least 36+ years already.  Oh yeah, my favorite type of pie, if you're wondering, is cherry.  You probably guessed that already.  I do like others such as apple, shoo-fly, coconut cream, blueberry, and pumpkin.  Now the next thing you probably are wondering is when did National Pie Day start.  Well, in 1975 a teacher in Boulder, CO told his students that he was declaring his birthday, January 23, to be National Pie Day.  His students believed him and soon Chase's Book of Events declared that day National Pie Day.  So there you go.  Have a piece of pie .... today …  ala mode .... in honor of LDub.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The "Dreamin' Of You" Story

I wrote this story months ago, but never posted it.  Always seemed like I had others that I wanted to share more than this one.  Now, as you may have read in a recent post, or have seen on the news or read about, Phil Everly has died.  Rather than delete this post, I thought I would post it to honor him with a story about one of my all-time favorite songs.

It was an ordinary day.  Listening to the Everly Brothers on my radio at work singing one of my favorites that they ever recorded, "All I have to do is dream", which they released in April of 1958 when I was in my first year of high school.  Song is ranked #142 on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.  Pretty impressive!  For many people, dreams are a mysterious lost world that we at times share with others while other times keep hidden in our innermost thoughts.  When I want you ..... as the song goes, all I have to do is dream.  I dream just about every night.  Dreams are said to help your mind store important memories, work through things emotionally and learn how to survive.  Think back on a few of your recent dreams.  Are they dreams that fit into one of the three previously mentioned  categories?  I can recall dreams that are scary and when I awake from them I'm sweating and searching the bedroom for demons.  Other times I'm dunking the basketball with the best of them in the alley behind my childhood home or hitting one over the fence at one the ballparks I used to play at or needing my wife in the night as the Everly Brothers declare.  Recently I read a newspaper story about dreams and the 10 things you probably don't know about dreaming.  On the list are things such as dreaming before we are even born, dreaming the entire time we are asleep and  knowing that we dream, but never remembering any of our dreams.  Paul McCartney said he woke up and had the tune of 'Yesterday' in his head.  I almost always have a song in my head no matter what the occasion and continue to hear it or even sing it, whistle it or hum it all day as well as hear it in my dreams.  When in high school and having an important test the next day I would read the information over and over in bed until I fell asleep.  I'm sure I would dream about it, since when I woke in the morning I was still going over the info in my head.  Funny thought because by the time I took the test I had forgotten most of the information!  I studied and studied the Periodical Chart when taking chemistry but still had to take the class twice in college before I made it through it.  One of two classes that ever pulled my GPA down.  Not sure why I even took the class since it wasn't necessary for graduation.  Dreaming is believed to play a role in hard-wiring the circuitry of the brain as it develops.  As we mature we often dream frightening or arousing dreams.  Scary dreams are things that need to be remembered while exciting dreams are those that you want to experience more often.  Some of the dreams I have experienced, and I'm sure you have dreamt the same dreams, get a little risqué in nature and leave a smile on my face when I wake up.  Dreams such as these: opportunity, danger, survival, sex ..... are all part of our emotional system.  For the last few years, since I have been  writing my blog stories, at times I would sleep with a notepad and pencil on the nightstand next to the bed.  If I awake from a dream that happened to me years ago and think it might be a good story to post, I'll jot a few notes on the paper before I fall back to sleep.  Quite a few times I wake Carol and she usually would say, "That better be good or I'll @#&*@# you!!  But that's OK.  When we first started dating and couldn't be together all the time, I often though of one of the verses in the song that went ..... When I feel blue in the night, and I need you to hold me tight, Whenever I want you, all I have to do is dream.  And dream of her I would do, and still do.  Well, the Everly Brothers have just finished their song on the radio and now one of my all-time favorites singers, Roy Orbison, is singing "In Dreams."  Remember ..... I close my eyes, Then I drift away, Into the magic night, I softly sway, Oh smile and pray, Like dreamers do, Then I fall asleep, To dream my dreams of you.  Wow!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The "Sleight of Hand ….. Bigtime" Story

It was an ordinary day.  And, then I tuned into Travel Talk Online (TTOL) and read one of the most disturbing threads that has been posted on the travel forum in some time.  
Lisa with a photo of her deceased mother.
Story about two women, both from North America, who recently died on the island of St. Maarten and whose bodies allegedly got  mixed up when they were shipped back to North America.  One body was sent to New Jersey while the other body was sent to Ottawa.  The woman's body in Ottawa was cremated while the other woman's body in New Jersey was prepared for a viewing and a funeral.  Both women died of natural causes on Thanksgiving day this past November while vacationing on St. Maarten and both bodies were taken to the Emerald Funeral Home on St. Maarten.  Both bodies were flown to the United States on the same airline and when the daughter of one of the women, Lisa, went to say her last goodbyes, she discovered that the body in the casket was not that of her mother.  The alleged 82 year-old body was dressed in the clothing that Lisa's sister had taken to the funeral home shortly after her mother had died at the condo where the two along with other family members had gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving, but she didn't recognize the face.  In the meantime the alleged 85 year old woman's body in Ottawa was being cremated by her family.  Lisa said that her sister was not allowed to see her mother's body in St. Maarten after she dropped off the clothing and the funeral home said they would not release the body unless the family wired $7,000 in cash.  And when the body finally reached New Jersey, a mysterious red pouch accompanied it.  In it was a necklace with the letter "E" on it, a ring and a medical bracelet citing angina on it.  Lisa's mother's name was Margaret and she didn't have angina.  So what went wrong?  To top that off, the funeral director in New Jersey, a friend of the family, said that the funeral parlor in St. Maarten had done a really poor job of preparing the body.  So now what?  The  family has hired a private detective and the Health Inspector in St. Maarten will investigate all aspects of the incident and report to the Minister of Public Health.  A DNA analysis will be carried out to check on the identity of each body.  
Similarities between the two woman can be seen here.
The Emerald Home director and embalmer claims that the correct human remains were sent to the correct persons.  He said he took both bodies to the airport at the same time and everything was regulated with the government.  The air trays containing the bodies were tagged after being delivered to the airport.  Both air trays were identical.  He claims that if something happened after that, he had no control over that.  What makes this even more spooky is that both woman looked eerily similar being blonde and Caucasian and both with pacemakers and full sets of dentures and even hip replacements in their right legs.  With the extended length of time between their death and the funeral in New Jersey, along with the poor embalming job, it may be possible that ..........  Could it be that the bodies were truly the right ones as the funeral director swore, or could a terrible mistake have been made.  Keep tuned in case I read more.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The " A Donut A Day …….." Story

It was an ordinary day.  Having a donut for breakfast.  I know ……. it isn't healthy is it, but when you have it with hot chocolate or orange juice it balances it out!  Bet you didn't know that.  Well it's true!  I just came back from Central Market in downtown Lancaster, PA after visiting one of my favorite stands that sells pastries and breads.  Bought two cream-filled donuts and when I came home I shared one with Carol.  
Variety of cake donuts at Browns.
 She wasn't home at the time so after eating my donut I thought I better eat hers as well so it wouldn't get stale.  Now that might be unhealthy, I guess.  I did tell her about it after she got home from work, but she said that was OK.  
Granddaughter Courtney eating one
of her favorite varieties, powdered.
 I told her how good it was and was maybe one of the best donuts I ever ate.  That got us talking about our favorite places to get donuts.  Unfortunately, a few of them are about a 3 hour drive away.  The donuts that we buy while on vacation at Ocean City, NJ are fantastic.  Cake donuts made while you watch at Brown's.  They have six styles: powdered, cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, honey and plain.  All are great, but my favorite is probably vanilla.  One morning while riding bicycles on the boardwalk we stopped at Oves Beach Grill and had one of their cake donuts made in apple cider.  Wow!  Then we had another one.  Both are great and the fact that we are on vacation may be part of the reason they are so tasty.  But, for me, donuts are great no matter where I eat them.  
Granddaughter Camille celebrating her birthday at Browns
by blowing the candles out on the vanilla cake donuts.
 Then I saw an article online from Parade Magazine where they published photos of donuts from other countries and wondered what flavor they might have.  I've posted the photos so you can see what others call donuts.  See if you find them appetizing. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Boorstogs from Mongolia
Bolins from Brazil 
Bunuelos from Mexico 
Zeppoles from Italy
Jalebis from India
Loukoumades from Greece
Smultrings from Norway 
Schneeballens from England
Shuangbaotais from China 
Rosettes from Sweden
And, cake donuts from Browns

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The "Please Touch The Art!" Story

Robert F. Allen and his work called Neon Dream attached
to the side of his panel truck.  Painting is 4'x8' in size.
It was an ordinary day.  Reading in a newspaper supplement about an art show at the Manheim Township library which I can see by waking out on my front porch.   Neat place that I have written about in the past where there is plenty of wall space to accomodate an art show the size described in the supplement.  Seems that Robert F. Allen, acrylic artist extrodinaire, has over 70 paintings that are spread throughout the expansive library.  So, I hopped in the car and headed to see exactly what this show offered.  
Five of his 70 plus paintings hanging in the library.
Now, if you're wondering why I didn't walk across the street to the library ..... well, the neighbors don't encourage the neighbor- hood to walk across their lawn to gain access and since I am a good neighbor, I drove to the parking lot next to the library.  As I entered the library, I was immediately greeted with brightly colored acrylic works of art.  
Three of his paintings that I did enjoy.  
If you have visited my blog before, you probably realize that I appreciate most type of artwork, both 2D and 3D, but I must admit, very few pieces I saw today would I buy.  I will admit that they were large; some as large as 4' x 8'.  Quite a few of the pieces had signs next to them that read, "Yes!  
"Meeting" is the name of this large print.  
You really CAN touch the art."  And so I did!  Many were hung low enough to allow the children at the library to touch them.  And, they were, snotty hands and all!  The artist, Robert Allen, grew up with his pet raccoon in a tiny cabin that he built behind his family home deep it the woods, 50 miles north of Syracuse, NY.  
Interesting textures abound in an acrylic painting and
people are invited to touch the work as I am doing.
He claims he is a self-taught artist from birth.  He earned a full ride to Syracuse University to study archi- tecture, but passed on that to enter the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years with tours of Japan, the Phillippines and the US.  
Many of his works such as this one titled
"Refraction" are too abstract to me.
Today he lives on 12 acres of woodland near the Susquehanna River with an art studio, a 150-year-old barn art gallery and a small cottage.  He shares his home with 100 large koi, 5 dogs and 8 tropical birds.  I'm so sorry I missed meeting him.  I will admit that I really did enjoy a few of his pieces; one titled "Meeting", a collection of colorful characters and another titled "The Last Supper" caught my eye.  His paintings that were entirely geometric shapes and lines of all colors didn't interest me.  If you care to see his work, Google him or stop at the library for a visit.  The show will be hung until the end of February.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

The "Last Supper" is also one of my favorites from his 70 plus paintings on display at the Manheim Township Public Library in Lancaster, PA.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The "In With The New .... Out With The Coal" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Playing with my trains in the cellar with my dad.  He and I always set up our Lionel train yard in the cellar after I got my first Lionel train set when I was 10 years old.  I think he enjoyed it as much as I did during the years that we screwed the two 4' x 8' panels of plywood together, put them on wooden sawhorses and placed all the Plasticville buildings around the streets which were painted on the plywood. It wasn't always that way, because for years we had a coal stove in the basement with a coal bin that took up most of the usable space.  I can remember the coal truck pulling up in front of the house on North Queen Street, running a metal chute from the truck to the basement and listening to the coal travel down the chute into our small cellar window.  In the cellar was a small wooden-enclosed area where the coal was contained.  I can remember how dirty the cellar floor would be after the coal was delivered.  Not a great place to set up a train yard.  One of my jobs was to shovel the ashes from the coal stove into a metal bucket which, after full, was taken to the curb for the trash man to take.  We used the coal stove to keep our small three-bedroom home warm in the winter.  Dad bought the coal from Bushong Coal Company which had an office on Grant Street in downtown Lancaster, PA where my Nannan Woods (my grandmother) worked in the office.  Her maiden name was Bushong and she was part of the family that ran the coal business.  Then one summer, after we had experienced a severe cold winter, dad decided it was best if we put in an oil burner and get rid of the mess associated with coal.  He told me it would cost us more, but maybe I would be able to set up trains if I wanted to.  
Easy to see what I would ask for that Christmas.  I can remember heading up East King Street to Farmers Supply Company after choir practice most every Saturday morning in the fall to see the trains they had for sale which were on display on the second floor of the building.  Usually had an hour or so to admire the beautiful engines which were running on their train display before I had to head to Meiskey's Jewelry store where my dad worked until noon.  Wasn't long before the clerks knew me by name and were asking me which one I was hoping for at Christmas.  Wasn't disappointed that Christmas when I opened my gifts and there was that Lionel train set with engine, tender, caboose and two coal cars.  Within a week dad and I had the new table ready with the roads painted and the track in place.  We got to run the train that winter, but it wasn't until the next few years that we built the mountains and tunnel on one end of the table and the village on the other end.  All I have left from that era are the wonderful memories of dad and me playing with the trains night after night!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

The "Reminisceing A Bit" Story

It was an ordinary day.  My first edition of my Christmas present just arrived and I was excited.  Even had to read a line or two as I was walking from the mailbox into the house.  This story started a couple of weeks ago as I was opening a few of my gifts from my wife, Carol, on Christmas Eve.  Christmas Day is so hectic with getting the meal started and awaiting the kids and grandkids to arrive that we like to open a few the night before so we can appreciate them a bit more and have more quiet time together. One of my gifts was in a small gift bag which means that it probably is something special.  At least I have found that to be true over the years.  Well, it certainly was true tonight.  In the bag was an envelope with a card inside that Carol made just for me.  It was a year's subscription to Reminisce magazine.  Ever hear of it?  I found out about it a few years ago when I discovered one at a car dealership while waiting for my oil to be changed.  Under the title it says …. THE MAGAZINE THAT BRINGS BACK THE GOOD TIMES.  Notice that is all in caps, since it is emphasizing what you are about to find inside the front cover.  Magazine only has 68 pages in it, with about half of it in advertising, but the rest of the magazine brought back memories from my childhood as well as the recent past.  And what's neat is almost all of the stories are written by subscribers who have taken the time to send a story to the magazine for publication.  Matter of fact they encourage their readers to do just that so others can read about life as it was a half-century or so ago.  As for me, I tend to do the same think on a daily basis by writing the stories for my blog.  Well, I started paging through and when I hit page 10 I stopped to look at an article titled "The Sailor and His Chevy."  
Tom and one of his Chevys.
Started to read it when I suddenly glanced at the title again and realized right under the title was listed the author of the story.  Guy by the name of Tom R. Williams from …… WOW …… a small town about 10 minutes from my house called Manheim, PA.  He's slightly older than I am, but I think I know his brother who coaches football for the high school located in Manheim.  Tom tells his story about the the three 1931 Chevys that he purchased.  He drove each until the motor died and then purchased another one, all being from the same year.  He also wrote about his time in the Navy and how in 1952 he was serving on an aircraft carrier that was going to travel to Boston from Norfolk for six months of repairs.  The crew, which he was one of, was allowed to take their cars on board the carrier so they would have them for use in Boston.  He told how the Chevy was hoisted aboard and then the process reversed in Boston.  Finally in 1954, after his third '31 Chevy died, he bought a Buick from a junkyard for $25.  Punchline of the story followed when he told his readers that the Buick was naturally a '31.  Neat story which made it more memorable since it was from a neighbor of mine.  Read the entire magazine, ads and all, and am anxiously awaiting my next issue in a couple of months.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The "A Little Bit More Of 'This & That'" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Catching up on some of this and that.  Some of this and that is rather interesting, some is funny, so I will share with you some of both.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.
  1. Did you know that the month of August will have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays.  It happens once every 823 years, so enjoy it, since not many of us will get to go through it again.  Found that the Chinese call it "Silver pockets full." If you don't know what that means here goes:  Send this message to your friends and in four days money will surprise you. Based on Chinese Feng Shui. Whoever does not transmit the message ... may find themselves poor.  I copy and pasted that from a Google site.  Can't hurt to try it so I'm sending it to all of you to read.  Can't imagine what I'll do with all the money!
  2. Turned the page in the Parade insert that comes every Sunday in our local paper and there in big red letters read:  WANT A LONG LIFE?  GET NAKED!  Doctors are now prescribing that if you want a long life, get naked!!  Regularly check yourself out in the nude, front and back.  Your skin and body may change and if you can catch it you may be be able to prevent a problem from growing out of control.  If not you, maybe a loved one can see it developing before something happens.
  3.  My son Tad stopped by this morning to give me the parts that were damaged when I opened my new Lawn Boy that he and his brother and sister had bought for me for Christmas.  When I opened it on Christmas morning there were two parts that were broken so he took care of running to the store to get the new ones for me.  While he was visiting we talked about the cold weather and how it had be to below zero the last day or two.  Then he asked me if I knew that when the temperature reaches -41 F it is also -41 C.  "Can't be," I told him.  Well, he pulled out his phone and showed me the site where you can see the conversions and sure enough, -41 F = -41 C.  
  4. I read in the Washington Post of a woman who was recalling her youth, as I do at times, and saying that her grandparents would host Roger on Sundays as part of their church's ministry to the inmates from the prison near their home.  Roger was about 30, but was very polite.  He paid attention to her granddad reading the bible and praised her grandma's peach pie and smoked.  He didn't seem like a prisoner to her.  He asked this woman's parents if they could bring him a photo of her and two weeks after receiving it gave her a frame he had fashioned out of Winston cigarette packs.  He was so proud of presenting it to her.  She said she imagined him folding and binding each piece.  What must his life be like if this was all he was proud of.  Soon after he hung himself in his cell.  She has moved 12 times since then and only a few days ago had found the frame that Roger had made for her that she cared enough about to save all those years.  She said that it was the intersection of a 10-year-old girl with a young man in jail - because its sturdy, unfaded bands humbled her.  Many times so much in life is contained in small things.  What holds meaning to you?
    The autor of the story I just posted for you.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The "Doors With Flare" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Enjoying myself by searching Pinterest for photos to pin into one of my many boards that I have on the website.  One of my favorite boards is titled "Doors with Flair."  I'm sure to some readers, including my wife, that my category doesn't seem at all interesting.  That's because you don't appreciate art as I do.  At least my type of art.  Anyway, over the past couple of years I have pinned 510 doors to my board.  Some are doors that lead to homes while others are doors to businesses.  One or two lead into gardens.  I have selected 20 of my favorite from my board to share with you.  After seeing these you may want to type in doors in the menu and start a board of you own.  Then again, some might still think I'm nuts!  Well, here they are and I'm hoping you are still reading this story at this point in time.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.