Thursday, June 30, 2011

First Day in Salem

We arrived in Salem well ahead of our check-in time. Luckily, not only were we able to park in our hotel lot, but they allowed us to check in as well (love when that happens!). Once we dropped off our suitcases, we were back out the door and checking out Pickering Wharf.

Salem was once one of the main trade centers of America. Evidence of its history in trade is all over Salem, but nowhere more than at the wharf. The only problem was that it was raining like crazy and photography wasn't really possible...

The Friendship

We briefly made it into the center of town to check out Burial Point. Many of Salem's citizens are buried here, including one of the children of Reverend Cotton Mather, a minister who had his own impact on the Salem Witch Trials. At this point, it began to pour, so we packed it in and headed out for lunch.

Our favorite place to eat in Salem shows our utter lack of gourmet palates, I'm afraid. But we are simple people with simple palates...and we don't like we headed immediately to the Salem Beer Works. It's part of a small chain of microbrewery restaurants (Boston, Salem, Lowell, etc.). Good beer (which I don't like and drink about once every never years) and great pub food!

Um...should I even be here?

The rest of the first day in Salem was spent shopping for umbrellas, ducking from the misty rain that seeped into every pore, and retreating to the hotel room for a game:

"Here comes the monster!"

We went to bed hoping that the next day would be sunny and warm....Heh.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Coopertown to Salem

The second part of our vacation began with about a four-hour drive from Cooperstown, New York, to Salem, Massachusetts. Since we were all up early, I think we were on the road by about 8:30 that morning. The little guy, feeling it was perhaps a tad too early, took it upon himself to play possum:

"Mommy? Tell Daddy to be quiet. I sleepin'."

We probably could have made pretty good time were it not for this:

Yup. Rain, rain, and more rain. Everything from a steady mist to a torrential downpour. And as it turned out, this was merely tidings of what the rest of the vacation would have to offer...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Golden Years

Another shot on the way to Cooperstown.

When I added the title (for the golden color of the light and fields), it actually made me think of my paternal grandparents. Like us, they had a farm, although for as long as I was growing up, it wasn't entirely a working farm. It was more of an offshoot of our own. We used the fields for hay and the very occasional corn crop. Their barn was used for hay storage and for calves and heifers when our barn was at capacity.

At one point, their barn housed a few pigs. But once they chased grandma around the pen, we no longer had them (just freezers full of ham).

My grandparents sold their farm many years ago (as did we), and the house they moved into is right next to a farm owned by a young guy in his twenties.

My grandparents are still farmers at heart. They watch his every move--though not in creepy, stalker ways. Moreso, they watch to see that he is farming in what they see as the correct way. They *tut-tut* when they see that he hasn't done something at the right time or in the right way. And though they don't say anything to him, they'll gossip with us when we talk on the phone. "Did you know Brian didn't even start planting corn until this week? He should've..." and on they'll go.

They may be in their golden years, but farming is still in their blood. I'm sure that, if she could, Grandma would go out and help unload the wagons of hay like she did when we still had our farm.

And I'd lay odds on the fact that she probably takes homemade iced tea over to the neighbor on hot summer days when the wagon has been unloaded and everyone is taking a break.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Cooperstown: Day Two

We're not "sleep in on your vacation" people. We were up and at'em by 7:00 every day. The poor little guy was exhausted by the end of the trip (and so were his parents), but we can't say that we missed out on any of our time away.

On the second day, our first stop (after a breakfast of homemade French toast) was back to the lake. The little guy loved checking out the water. I snapped some shots of "The Indian Hunter", the statue that overlooks Lake Otsego.

"The Indian Hunter"
 While I snapped pictures, Hubby and the little guy were looking for fish. There were some little bass swimming near shore, and though he claimed to see them, the little guy always seemed to be looking everywhere but at the fish!

"I see the fish!"

The little guy was very excited to have his picture taken in front of "the ocean". And he wanted me to take plenty of pictures of it without him in front of it. He also wanted me to take a picture of the apple floating in the water, but I declined. I wish I had, now, as every time we returned to the lake, he was looking for that apple!


After some time at the lake, we drove up to the Farmer's Museum. Loved it. Absolutely loved it there. If it hadn't started to get so hot, I would have spent the entire day there, if not the entire trip. I have tons and tons of images to process in a future post, but here are some of the first round.

Once you enter the museum, the first thing you see is the "Cardiff Giant," a huge hoax from 1869. This ten-foot tall petrified man was unearthed at the farm of William "Stub" Newell.

"The giant was the creation of a New York tobacconist named George Hull. Hull, an athiest, decided to create the giant after an argument at a Methodist revival meeting about the passage in Genesis 6:4 stating that there were giants who once lived on Earth.

"Hull hired men to carve out a 10-foot (3.0 m) long, 4.5-inch block of gypsum in Fort Dodge, Iowa, telling them it was intended for a monument to Abraham Lincoln in New York. He shipped the block to Chicago, where he hired Edward Burghardt, a German stonecutter, to carve it into the likeness of a man and swore him to secrecy.

"Various stains and acids were used to make the giant appear to be old and weathered, and the giant's surface was beaten with steel knitting needles embedded in a board to simulate pores. In November 1868 Hull transported the giant by rail to the farm of William Newell, his cousin. By then, he had spent US$2,600 on the hoax.

"Nearly a year later, Newell hired Gideon Emmons and Henry Nichols, ostensibly to dig a well, and on October 16, 1869 they found the giant. One of the men reportedly exclaimed, "I declare, some old Indian has been buried here!" from Wikipedia

"There's a sucker born every minute."

The next stop at the Farmer's Museum was the fair tent. Inside were a bunch of activities for kids. Hubby attempted to teach the little guy how to milk a cow...

"Maybe Grampie should be teaching you how to do this..."

On staff was Mary, a delightful woman who is perfectly suited to working with little kids. She was so gentle, sweet, and enthusiastic. She took the little guy around and showed him how to "build" his own farm. I think he would have stayed at that activity with her all day!

Placing the tractor out in the field

Also in the fair tent was a little tableau where you could take pictures. The museum even provided little costumes! So, of course, we had to try it out!

My little farm boy!

After checking out the rest of the farm museum (the schoolhouse, print shop, pharmacy, barns, etc.), we headed out for a hot dog lunch! What else would you eat in a town dedicated to baseball?

Apparently, the hot dogs were taking a little too long...

After lunch, we headed into the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. The little guy's poor legs were so tired by then that we let him ride around in his "cart." (He refuses to ride in a "stroller", but a "cart" is okay.) One of his favorite displays was the one where he got to build a mascot.

"I built this!"

The little guy wasn't too interested in players and stats, so we headed to the Sandlot. My hopes and expectations were dashed as it was pretty lame, but to a three-year-old, it was pretty cool!

"Mommy? Can I sit here?"

Once Hubby was done exploring, even he took a time out in the Sandlot....

"Daddy! Dat seat is not for you!"

And to truly commemorate the trip to the museum? A baseball card! I have a picture of the little guy's uncle with his face shoved into the same card!

That face cracks me up every time I look at it!

Finally, to end our trip to Cooperstown, we spent more time at the Lakefront Park. The little guy relaxed in the grass while his parents plotted out the next leg of the journey...


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beware: Avalanche Ahead!

I have tons and tons of images to process!! It's like an avalanche of images fell into my hard drive!

As I snapped photos of a family vacation, I was mindful that I was also taking photos that I could process. My hope and plan is to put together a book of barn images by the end of the summer....and I think that it is a probability that I can do it! Especially if I can get more images like this:

Little Red Antiques Barn


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cooperstown: Day One

Off we went!

We didn't take a true vacation last year, and by the time we got to the end of the summer, I could tell. I just didn't feel rested or that I had really had a break. So this year I demanded a week's vacation!

Leaving on Monday, June 20, we drove about three hours to Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum and the Farmer's Museum. 

"Are we on vacation yet?"

We arrived well ahead of our check in time, so we decided to grab lunch at the Brewery Ommegang, a microbrewery courtesy of Belgium. We opted out of the tour, and enjoyed frites and fondue instead!

Brewery Ommegang

Chugging his apple juice and waiting for some bratwurst

Cooperstown is a very quaint and picturesque town. Lots of old homes much like the one below:

One of the local inns

Cooperstown is situated at the base of Lake Otsego. Such a beautiful setting. The little guy was excited to see the lake, which he kept referring to as the ocean. Hey, they're both bodies of water, right?

Looking for fish

Lake Otsego

The main street of Cooperstown is full of shops. Most of them are baseball oriented. T-shirts, hats, bats, baseball cards. There are a couple of little boutiques and such mixed in, as well. We made sure to check out nearly all of them on a scouting mission for what we would buy before we went home.

Looking pretty gangsta

Local statue

At the end of the day, we checked into our room and relaxed. The little guy enjoyed the full length mirror and his own reflection...

Double Trouble

"I gots a new hat!"

Reading the rules of baseball and watching the game

Day one was a great start! Day two to follow!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Next Page

I started sketching ideas at the dinner table the other night. They popped into my head, and I was afraid that if I didn't try to capture them, they would flit away and be lost. While pregnant, this phenomenon is called "baby brain", but I truly believe that it stays with you.

So I sketched. Not hurriedly but not with much finesse either. I tried to capture the images closely enough that they would make sense later.

Yesterday, I sat on the floor, pens and pencils in hand and began to sketch the image that pulled to me the strongest:

I held it up and asked my husband if he knew what it was. He made that face (you know, the same face men make when you ask them if your outfit makes you look fat), shrugged, and said, "I don't know. Hair?"

Yes. Good boy.

Phew! On both our parts. I had drawn hair and he had seen hair. True, it made no sense to him. Why would his wife be drawing hair? I don't know. Because she wants to, silly boy. Now, go back to watching SportsCenter...

No, wait. Why would I be drawing hair? Where is this picture going? What is she looking at? Is her hair being stirred by a slight breeze? A strong wind? Is this a happy picture? Or is she saddened by the site before her. Will there be zombies? (A question I must ask myself often to keep my interest.)

Have I had too much Dunkin Donuts coffee this morning and am I starting to get a little loopy?

Amen and cheers to that!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Although I'm swamped with all the minutiae of everyday life, I am sticking to my promise to myself to have a creative summer. I'm feeling kind of proud of myself about that because I can be a big idea/little action kind of lady when it comes to doing things for myself.

The other night, Hubby got in on the action by taking me on an extended backroads drive so I could snap some pictures. And I didn't even have to ask! It was entirely his idea, and he picked road after road after road. I can't wait to start processing all those barn shots I captured!

I posted yesterday about my friend's watercolor journal. I am so proud of her! And it lit a fire under my bum to get moving on mine! I had started a page last week, but I stalled with all the home improvements we've swamped ourselves with. So, yesterday afternoon, with a three-year-old offering to help (yike!), I finished my next two pages.

In Her Garden

I really want to make this journal a hodge-podge of images that just pop into my head (hence the title "Reveries"). This is one that just popped in there the other day. I even rough sketched it on the top of a legal pad to make sure that I didn't lose the image!

The quote that started it...

Can't go wrong with a red balloon and a garden of hearts!

Not too bad, I guess! It's fairly close to what I had envisioned. And I'm definitely learning more about how to use my watercolor pencils! Now...I wonder what I'll envision next!

I'm also planning three altered book projects for the coming weeks, months, hopefully not years! I made it into the back of one of our closets and dug out my tub of Nancy Drew books. I have the first seven in order, and I decided to just hold on to them. I did pull out three books, though, for my artsy plans.

I've got plans for you!

The top two books are going to become art journals! I think that The Secret in the Old Attic will become a personal art journal. I'll use it for thoughts and dreams and such. The purplish book in the middle doesn't match the rest of my meager collection (yellow spines only, thank you!), so that was an easy choice. I'm going to make that into a regular art journal/altered book. Well, whatever regular means, anyway. Ha ha!

The book on the bottom was always a personal favorite of mine. In it, Nancy gets kidnapped and stuffed inside a statue, and she nearly suffocates. I remember crying as I feared her to be dead. And I remember wanting to have a boyfriend like Ned Nickerson who could rescue me! Well, this copy has been read so many times that the pages are falling out. I'm going to remove all of them (and save them for future projects), and turn this into either A) a handbag or B) a holder for an eReader, which will be a purchase before the end of the year. Hmm...I think I know the direction I'm leaning in! How cute to have an eReader tucked into an old Nancy Drew book!!!

Boy! I've got alot of fun work to do!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Friend, the Artist

In my quest to have a creative summer, I invited (dragged) my friend along for the creative ride! She was excited but a little nervous. As we discussed ways to be creative, she declared that she'd always felt like she had a watercolor artist within her. So, that became her chosen medium: watercolors.

She ordered her watercolor journal and her watercolor paints. She summoned up her courage to start. She completed her first image.

She sent me a message stating that she was going to have to tear it out and throw it away.

And then? She didn't. And then? She did a second page. I have included it above...

Isn't it beautiful!!!!!

She's never done this before...

...or so she says. Now, I'm not so sure. Look at that! It's lovely! She really does have an artist within her, and I'm so excited to watch this artist blossom!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Those Ol' Back Roads

Heading down those ol' back roads
Dad at the wheel
Taking a shortcut
But they always took longer

Old farms, furrowed fields, forgotten friends
"Isn't this wheres" and "Wasn't that whens"

Dust trails behind us
Adventures ahead
Too fast over the bumps and curves
Holding on tight and giggling in the back seat
Stomachs dropping and squeals of delight
Dad's smirk in the rear view mirror
And Mom's mock admonishments

Who needed a destination
After a ride like that?

Always the journey that mattered
Always the memories that mattered

Always the family that matters

Friday, June 10, 2011

To Do List

I need to get my act together!!

I can't help it. It's in the genes, I suppose. I procrastinate. Sometimes it's just pushing off an unpleasant task. Usually it's simply a matter of pushing off what needs to get done in favor of the things I want to do! And I want to do more quite a bit!

Want To Do:
1. Take more pictures of barns and rural buildings
2. Process all the pictures sitting in my hard drive
3. Get my creation station put together*
4. Photo safari!
5. Work on my watercolor journal
6. Write
7. Start putting together a photo book of rural images
8. Altered books projects
9. Project 52 photograph!

And so on and so on, I suppose!

Have To Do:
1. Laundry
2. Dishes
3. Overhaul all the rooms that have been neglected during this flooring project
4. Dentist
5. Get groceries
6. Finish creating my online course
7. Vacation packing list
8. Buy vacation supplies (Okay, that sounds kind of fun...)
9. Re-pot my tomato and basil plants (if they can be saved...)

Okay. So it's a dead heat. Nine for nine. So what am I going to do?

What do you think I'm going to do? Heh heh...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Peacocks Are Still Pretty"

In recent months, as I have seen more of it, I have fallen completely in love with collage art. I just think it is such a beautiful expression of creativity.

Until my "creation station" is set up and until I've gathered up some found materials, I'm going to play around with PhotoShop and digital scrapping tools. It's not the hands-on approach I'd like to try, but it's a start!

In the mean time, I'm also working on my watercolor journal. An idea for the next page is materializing, and I may begin sketching on it today. Maybe I'll do step-by-step photos of my process? From nothing to something? Hmm...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

And So It Starts...

The very first page of my very first watercolor journal.

I started it last night. A light pencil sketch for guidance. Inked out the book and the words. The blues and brown added with my watercolor pencils. This morning I added the water to turn the pencil into paint. Colored in the yellows and pinks and watered them out. Added out the little silhouette.

And done.

I think I'm in love. 

Monday, June 6, 2011


I am embarking on a new creative endeavor.

I discovered it quite by accident. I was looking up information on Altered Books, specifically a project that details how to add drawers to an Altered Book, when I stumbled upon this post. I thought, "Hmm! I could do something like that with photography!"

And so I did.

Well, I started anyway. I'm going to try to create a photo a week based on the theme posted.

The first one already has me excited. This week's theme is "The Start of Something."

How appropriate! I'm also starting my very first watercolor journal! Admittedly, I'm a little nervous. I'm not sure what I'm doing...other than creating whatever comes to mind, I suppose. I'm not a perfectionist, but I'm a perfectionist--ha ha--so I want it to be good!

I decided not to go with a super-specific theme. I'm just calling it "Reveries." My intention is to just create what I see in my mind's eye on any given day when I have time to create.

Until I actually get up and running, though, here is the first shot of "Project 52"...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Like a Kid

When I get excited by something, I liken that enthusiastic response to that of a child who has just been told he's going to Disney for the first time...with going to Disney being his lifelong dream.

I felt that excitement with the sky pictured above. It's a segment from an image I posted to my Flickr account a couple of days ago. It was a plain photograph, a plain (but pretty) sky. I added a texture by artist Kim Klassen, one by Distressed Jewell, and voila! I couldn't look away! It was pretty and perfect and all sorts of other adjectives beginning with more than just the letter P.

So, like any kid excited by something new, I kept playing! I looked for more pictures I had taken that featured a cloudy blue sky. I worked the same textural magic on each one. Some worked. Some didn't. Some worked with the addition of new textures. I played and played and probably put together five or six new images in one sitting!

And that still wasn't enough! I pulled the sky image up and used it for my new blog logo, too! Incorrigible! Unstoppable!

And having so much fun! I feel so good when I'm creating. I feel good when I'm talking about creating. I even feel good when I think about creating! After getting up at three o'clock this morning, I had a hard time falling back to sleep...mainly because I was picturing all the little projects that I want to try!!

I'm not old enough for a mid-life crisis. Maybe this is all part of my pre-mid-life rejuvenation?!