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Saturday, August 31, 2019

The "The Sun Always Shines In The Arboretum" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Temperatures were in the low 70s and the sun was drifting in and out of the puffy white clouds.  Perfect day for a visit to the Penn State University Arboretum.  Carol and I are guests for the weekend with our friends Jere and Sue who live in State College, Pennsylvania.  Yesterday we visited the Grange Fair in nearby Centre County and today we are headed to the Arboretum at Penn State.  We have visited a few times before, but you never get tired of looking at all the beautiful plants and trees as well as fruits and vegetables that are grown at the Arboretum.  
Sign telling you about the nearby Mount Nittany.
The Arboretum is being built on a 370-acre parcel of land immedia- tely adjacent to the University Park campus of The Pennsyl- vania University in State College.  When it is fully developed  the Arboretum will include 29.5 acres of botanical gardens in the H.O. Smith Botanical Gardens and more than 340 acres of environmentally sensitive landscape and restored woodlands.  A visit to the garden is free of charge, but you can make a donation if you care to do so.  The master plan for the arboretum was developed from 1996-1999 and $10 million was needed to begin construction of Phase 1 of the H.O Smith Botanical Gardens which was completed in the fall of 2009.  
The Overlook Pavilion where you can enter the Arboretum.
The Childhood Gate's Children's Garden was completed in 2014 and has many native Pennsylvania plants and is a microcosm of the regional landscape.  I parked the car and we entered the arboretum near the beautiful Overlook Pavilion.  Wasn't long before I lost the others as I searched for a variety of flowers and trees to take photographs of to share with you.  The following are a selection from the eleven different gardens that are part of the Arboretum.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This plant is known as Arnold Promise or Witch Hazel.  Click on images to enlarge.
Neat view of two people heading toward one of the water fountains. 
One of my favorite trees, the Paper Birch.
This tree looked as if it was winking at me!
Water Lily
This plant is known as the Rattlesnake Master.
This photograph was taken while looking into a kaleidoscope.  The flower is a straw flower.
The kaleidoscope that I used for the photograph above.
Straw flowers.
One of the many fruits that are grown in the gardens.  This is the Gold Rush Apple.
In person this looks exactly as it is named; Amaranthus Dreadlocks.
The bees loved all the sunflowers in the gardens.
This is the Joel N. Myers Sundial.  Really neat to try to tell
the time of day by using the sundial.  If you see the shadow to the
left of the large rock you will see it looks as if it is pointed at
the first rock.  That would make it 11:00 am.  The exact time we were there.
This is the Limber Pine tree.
The leaves of the Overlap Oak.  Ever hear of this variety?  I never did and I taught wood shop at one time.
The Maidenhair Tree. 
This is the Bismarck Palm.
The Fragrant Snowbell plant.  It did have a sweet odor, to me.
These two lovely flowers are Carol and Sue.
Another bee favorite, the Shrub Rose.
This plant, the Arkansas Blue-Star, is very soft to the touch.
The Sago Palm.  I have actually heard of the Sego Palm in the past.
Who wouldn't love the Snowdrop Anemone?
The pretty yellow flower with the most unusual name of Whorled Tickseed was a
good way to end my photographic session at the Penn State University Arboretum.


Friday, August 30, 2019

The "What's Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander..Or Is It?" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Singing along with the music in my car.  Love to do it all the time!  And, when I get out of my car I still remember what was playing and at what part the song was interrupted when it begins playing once again.  The entire time I am out of my car I am humming along with the song I was listening to when I turned the car off.  Are you like that?  Do you get a song in your head and can't get it out of your mind until you hear another song?  I ask you this because today I read an article titled "Court dashed girl's quest to sing in all-boys' choir."  I believe my love of music and my humming along to music all the time go back to when I sang in the St. James Episcopal Church Boy's Choir.  I was in the choir from the time I could read until my voice changed from alto to tenor and I had to join the adult choir if I wanted to continue to sing in the church choir.  And, the entire time there was never a girl in the boy's choir.  Perhaps the reason why was due to the fact that the church also had an all-girls' choir.  There were quite a few good looking girls in that choir, but I had to stay in the boys' choir.  The article I read was about a 9-year-old German girl whose parents sued because she wanted to be in the State and Cathedral Choir which is part of Berlin's University of the Arts and is a publicly funded cultural institution and thus should be made available to everyone, regardless of gender.  What was at stake was more than just the right to sing in the boys choir, but to have access to the same music education that males do.  Well, a five-judge panel ruled in favor of the artistic freedom of the choirmaster and did not allow the girl to join the boys choir, but they did allow for an appeal.  The professor of musicology said that boys' voices break around 12 while girls can continue to sing the higher notes until about the age of 15.  If choirs are mixed the girls will have much stronger voices and simply drown out the boys.  The boys' choir of Berlin was founded in 1465 by the ruler of Brandenburg to promote "free musical education for boys."  It wasn't until 1989 that a girls' choir was founded in Cologne, Germany and allowed for the right of girls to receive free musical instruction.  How would you rule?  Years ago I coached the high school rifle team where I taught school.  There was one team and boys or girls could join the team.  My team won the state championship with a lineup of 6 boys and 4 girls.  The fact that there were both girls and boys on the team created a competition among themselves to see who could do the best.  The school also offered baseball and softball in the spring semester.  Boys had to play baseball and girls had to play softball. Today, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania there are a few girls playing football and a few boys playing field hockey since there is only one team of each sport.  Ice hockey also allows both boys and girls to participate on the same team.  As you can see, equal treatment of the sexes is an age old problem and will probably never be completely resolved.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The "Join The Tradition" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Carol and I are visiting with friends Jere and Just Sue in State College for the weekend.  Saturday, and our mission today was a trip to the 145th Annual Centre County Grange Fair in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania.  We have made several journeys from Lancaster to State College for this event, but never tire of the excitement, good times and plenty of good food during fair week.  Picked up a brochure and read that the fair takes you out of the day to day bustle, to a time when life moved at a slower pace.  And...that's exactly what it did for the four of us on this beautiful day in late August, 2019.  Sitting a short distance away are 2,500 canvas tents and RVs which seem to spring up overnight the day before the fair opened a little over a week ago.  Families and friends reunite at these homes-away-from home reunions and tend to develop lasting relationships with campsite neighbors.  The four of us are just a minuscule number of the close to a quarter million visitors to the fair every year.  Food, equine events, carnival rides, farm animals, music festivals, motorsports, 4H contests, exhibit competitions and naming of the annual Queen are all parts of the Grange Fair.  To try and take in all of that on one afternoon is impossible, so we just wandered around the 264 acres of mass confusion and humanity for the afternoon.  I enjoyed snapping a few photographs to share with you of this year's Grange Fair.  Hope you enjoy them!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.
This cute little girl was interested in my camera.
Click on images to enlarge them. 
Cattle are naturally part of the farm scene at any Grange Fair.
Would love to be a judge for one of these competitions!
At first I thought these were strawberries, but found they were peppers.
Winners in the Gourds category. 
Plenty of flowers to enjoy.  Even those that didn't win were fun to view.
I'm not sure if this woman had real or artificial flowers.
16 year old Anna took second place in the painting category.
12 year old Audrey made this dish collage and won 1st place. 
My wife enjoyed this display the most!
How can anyone not pick this poor soul for first place?
Cheyanne Storm won first place with this photograph.
Jane from Spring Mills won a first place with this Amish Buggy photograph.
Joy from Centre Hall took 1st place in the Domestic Animal colored photograph category.
I, too, really enjoyed this photograph.  Good choice for 1st place!
Amish enjoy visits to the Grange Fair.
A very unique chess set made by Jean of State College which won a first place ribbon.
Chris from Pleasant Gap made this beautiful leather gun belt and holster.
Sue taking a selfie of her and Jere while my wife looks on.  We are sitting in
a tractor-pulled wagon which serves as transportation around the fairgrounds.
A sea of automobiles, campers and tents at the Grange Fair in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania.
There were commercial stands where you could buy items.  These are small angels
with a few flags that would glow after hit by the sun.
Not sure what this chicken is doing in this photograph.  Perhaps the chicken dance.
One of the many aisles with tent homes along both sides.  Vacation for many!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The "As Long As You Don't Mind Hitting Your Knees On The Ceiling" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Thinking back to a few years ago when I wrote a story titled "Tiny Home Mania" and how a few places in Lancaster County had began making small, or tiny, homes.  I thought it just had to be a fad, but I guess I was wrong.  Tiny Estates was established in 2018 in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania on what at one time was a campground known as Ridge Run.  Seems that what started as a dozen or so acres of land devoted to small or tiny homes has blossomed into the largest tiny home community in the country.  Yep, you read that right...COUNTRY!  
The size of a tiny home can be seen here.
Click on image to enlarge.  This will enlarge
the image, but the tiny home will still be tiny.
As of now there are three dozen tiny homes on Ridge Run with close to another dozen projected to occupy a place by the end of the year.  All of the homes are anywhere from less than 200 square feet to close to 400 square feet in size.  By the time the property is at full residency, there will be about 100 homes.  Recently Tiny Estates partnered with Booking.com and comedian Kevin Hart to create a Hart-sized home in conjunction with his tour.  That home is now back in Elizabethtown and available to rent.  If you check out Tiny Estates on the Internet you will find they have both a web site as well as a Facebook page.  A few of the homes are featured with "Low Country" being one of them.  This home is 39 feet long and can sleep six people.  
The kitchen, bathroom and shower area.
Wow!  Then they have a tiny home that is known as "The Alfa."  It's name comes from the first letter of the Greek alphabet and was built for an HGTV charity auction.  The home was won by a man who never used it and it eventually found its way to Elizabethtown where it now resides.  It is 140 square feet in size and is 12 feet long and for a 6-foot-tall man who might weigh 185 pounds, The Alfa is shockingly small and making a 360-degree turn may be tough to do.  Inside the home is a couch, TV, sink, mini-fridge, toilet, shower, queen-sized bed (yep, you read that right), and a ladder to climb into the bed.  That 6-foot-tall man who weighs 185 pounds thought he could stay there and came with his tablet, book and guitar.  Wasn't long before he knew he shouldn't have brought the guitar.  
The bedroom area.
A tour of The Alfa was accomp- lished in one 360-degree turn.  Later in the evening that night his girlfriend came to visit and was able to sit on a folding chair that had been hung on the wall.  Being that The Alfa was too small for the guy and his girlfriend, she left and he decided it was time for bed.  The bed was comfortable and the rain hitting the ceiling a few inches above his head made for a relaxing atmosphere.  Tiny Estates has a lake stocked with fish and plenty of space for children to run around outside the tiny homes.  Check out the web site and Facebook page and see for yourself what is offered.  Maybe you might want to give it a try, but then again, maybe hitting your knees on the ceiling all night long may not be for you!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

One of the tiny homes.
The lake area showing a few of the tiny homes in the background.