Clearing my mind

The last few days I’ve felt a growing sense of anxiety. So much to do. Worrying about things I can’t control. And worrying about things I can.

Will I be able to physically do the things I need to get done? I am hoping so. A visit to my surgeon a few weeks ago ended with him draining another couple cyst like things from my axilla and giving me a nice big steroid injection and so far I have had some relief. Still I can’t do many things I once could. And still I push to do as many things as I can. So much I leave in others hands. That’s hard for me too.

I think the issue is also mental. I forget so many things. I get overwhelmed and I get mad that I forget things. I forget to check my calendar and my notes app where I write so many things.

Today the cell phone repair guy showed up around 1pm. I had completely forgotten he was coming. I hadn’t even checked the calendar and I had put something else as a priority. Thankfully we were home. He came for my sons broken phone screen but if we hadn’t been home he likely wouldn’t have heard the door. Well anyway that worked out.

Other days I don’t get so lucky and one thing or another is forgotten or lost or a new fire shows up that needs to be put out ASAP.

My mind needs a break.

Yesterday wasn’t rainy – as so many days here seem to be. It was breezy and cold but sunny so I took off to walk on the lane to clear my mind.

It takes me half the walk to stop thinking about all the crap that I need to get done. I stop along the way and take photos. I listen to the shifting breeze. I listen to the quiet. I play some Coldplay on my phone for a bit.

I brought my dog Rudy and I watch him Focusing himself on the walk at hand. The smells and eating gross things. He just is in the moment.

And finally so am I. I feel the angst leave even if for just a while. My spirit lifted.

I have more energy for the day. And more patience. I feel happiness. I get a lot done.

Why -I think to myself – don’t I just get out and get into the natural world every morning. I need so habit. Something that centers me. Otherwise the day gets away from me.

My thoughts are not like they once were. They used to be in order – do this and then this and then that. Now they can start anywhere. It’s the difference between a straight line drawn on a board with a few blips, and squiggles drawn all over the board. My mind is squiggles. Maybe this is the meds I take , aging , a result of all the surgeries I’ve had to have over the last few years – who knows.

Anyway Clearing my mind helps get the line straighter.

It’s just a matter of making that a priority.


Car show 

When we were down at the shore for a long weekend recently, right across the street is a country club and on a Saturday they were hosting a car show that went to benefit veterans.

Kevin and I biked over to the club not knowing what to expect. But we had seen an ad asking people to come out and vote for your favorite car. We are always up for a car show. We were pleasantly surprised to see so many old cars. There were so many. We hadn’t expected that. I have a thing for old cars. 

When I was a kid my grandmother drove an old Plymouth – I remember the push buttons on the dash and I think the car was green but I don’t recall much else I was so young. I can’t believe I remember that much. But later she got a 1966 Mustang. It was a hard top with black interior and it was canary yellow. She had that car from 1966 until she died in 1987. It had 40k miles on it. My dad sold it after she passed and I was very sad to see it go. 

I remember her driving me around in it for years and then later I drove her around in it. I remember her turning the wheel with her gloved hands (because you always wear driving gloves) around and around like she was fighting with the car to get that car to turn and she was because it had no power steering. Later when I drive her I was surprised that she was able to fight so well with that steering it was hard for me to steer! And it no AC. How did we survive without AC in cars? 

Fast forward to my adult life. I don’t know when I became enamored  with old cars. Maybe it’s the memories of past rides with my Nana. Also I dated a couple guys who had a love for old cars and another friend who was a mechanic and maybe it was back then that my interest grew. I would sometimes go sit in his shop and watch him tinker with cars -old and new but I liked the old ones best.

Have you ever watched a car auction on TV? Well I have and love them! 

I don’t know the first time I went to a car show but we’ve had monthly meet ups ( where people with old cars meet up to show them off) in a local shopping center in our town of Mount Airy,MD.  The center houses an iconic(to locals) ice cream shop named Jimmy Cone. Often over the summer the cars will meet and folks from town would come check them out and also enjoy ice cream and sometimes music. 

For me there is art in these old cars. The color and curves and lines, the polished chrome and knobs and dials are all part of an era of cars that focused on beauty and performance. A car was a “she” for sure. 

Kevin would say way back when that when I turned 50 he would get me an old Mustang. Well I’m nearly 54 and that hasn’t happened. That’s not because he didn’t want to get me one it’s because it doesn’t make sense to have such a car while we are raising three teens and managing a small farm. It’s not in the budget now. But that doesn’t mean that sometime someday we won’t get a shiny old Mustang. In the meantime I get to drool over the ones I see occasionally at cars shows or on the road. 

Kevin and I both had different votes for our favorite car. I voted for the one I would most want. Bet you can’t guess! And he voted for the coolest beachy one. Another hint!  So here is a gallery of some of the cars we saw and I took photos of some of the parts of these cars that I found beautiful. 

Enjoy. Answers way at the bottom! 

My Vote the black 66 Mustang!

Kevin’s – The Woody

Being part of the farm again. 

For the last two days I have been able to go out and work a bit on our little farm. This is such a big deal for me. I have been unable to do anything for months because of the pain I had. “Had”being a key word. I amstill not pain free after the surgery but I’m able to be part of life again. That’s so huge.  I can’t do that many things physically out at the barn yet but I can do a little and I can give orders! 

It felt good being part of things again. It’s hard to put into words the things I feel right now. I’m such a mix of emotions all the time. But feeling like a normal human again at least some of the time is really awesome.  

I don’t have the stamina yet that I want but it will come. If I do too much I have pain.  I still have some of the pain I hoped would be gone as a result of surgery-but it comes when I do certain things which leaves me with hope that as I gain more mobility with my arm that some of these issues might go. And I’m told it may take a year to heal fully. There is a chance that some of the nerves that were bothered for so long may not heal 100%.  But I’m hoping for the very best outcome. 

But that’s just stuff I don’t want to worry about now. I enjoyed today -being outside with my animals. Just being part of the world again. I came back in before the gale force winds we are supposed to get began. I think it’s blowing away our Indian summer. I’m not looking forward to winter really I’m not a fan of the cold but I’ll not let that keep from being part of my little farm. I’m thankful I’ll be able to go out and enjoy the season. 

I took a number of photos today of basic farm happenings. But to me they are such a gift to be able to be part of such a place. The sights,the sounds, and the smells of a farm. Somehow I feel like farms are part of my soul. There is an amazing comfort for me when I’m on any farm.  I feel it’s where I’m supposed to be.  Well here and the beach and in nature.  I have a large soul I suppose! I’m lucky to have found my places where I can find my center. Some people search a long time for that. 

Hope you enjoy today’s farm photo s. 

Airy my mare

harley my gelding and the horse i ride.

asking for a treat!

the storage area pf our barn . it geta quite a collection of junk and needs to be tidied up periodically

looking out on the back forty. our land is only tonthe fence but i love backing up to preservation land!

molting hen. she is on her way to new feathers.

me standing on manure pile. sums up my life of late!

new 100 gallon water trough w heater!

inside looking out.

Recovery and getting help. 

My wonderful husband Kevin has been worried about my surgical recovery in the aftermath of my fathers death.  It takes a long time to recover from nerve surgery and I haven’t been sure how I’m supposed to be feeling. I notice small improvements but then I’ll have a bad day. Physically and emotionally. 

I’ve been a wreck about my dads passing and we are planning his funeral and when you are trying to get family in from out of state and kids in from colleges and high school teens schedules it gets a bit crazy.  So Kevin has taken over some of the calling to funeral homes and to the reception place. I’m sure passing some of this off is a good thing.  Giving up control to others is not easy for me. I’m a good planner but I’m just not up to doing all that I’ve been assigned. My brother and I have been splitting tasks and he already planned the memorial for dad in Florida. I feel I need to really help plan the funeral up here in DC. But I’m going to have to give up some control. I need to heal. 

Since Kevin was worried about my recovery so was I. I encouraged him to write my surgeon. Which he did. And yesterday on a Saturday he wrote kevin -twice-back asking some questions and concerned about how this death and the grief I’m carrying is effecting my recovery. He is a great man. I’m lucky we found him. He asked if I was moving enough. He also wants to see me next week. He thinks I need to get into PT. In a pool. If it’s warm I’m cool with that! 

Kevin told me what my surgeon said so I thought about it. I’m not moving enough I’m stuck. I feel like when I get up I can’t do much and I often end up hurting. I’ve been walking but not enough. I’m not trying. I’m down. 

So I decided to get my butt up. I popped a little more percoset. (I take less than 1/2 a pill a day. I’m so weird about meds.) but the amount I take helps so that’s good. I got my shoes on and I went outside with my phone and just walked around. I took pictures and I took a walk. Then I came back in the house a couple hours later and I didn’t go back to bed until bedtime. I hurt some but I was ok. I felt kind of normal though. Like a person living in my home. Not a patient. 

It’s been easy to just stay in bed BC it hurts to get out but once I do I realize it’s what I need to do. I need to recover physically and mentally. 

I’ve had calls from caring friends. A couple encouraging me to seek therapy BC I have been through so much. My friend Jon told me that he knew I was strong but I had been through more stuff in a short period of time and I needed to seek professional help. I think he worried I might be upset but I so appreciate that he cared. It has been a horrible time and he reached out. I’ve been to lots of therapy so I fully agreed I needed to go. But getting my butt there might be hard. But I decide not to listen to all my buts..  I knew I wanted a person older than I am so I found Polly and she sounds nice and caring and I am hoping to meet her next week. I will be downloading on her (a new term I’ve seen streaming tv shows). She may be on the floor after I finish! 

I’m thankful to Jon for saying point blank “get some help”.  I was in a bad place for a long time even before my dad passed.  Jon ignited a spark in me to get myself together again. I need help to do it. Therapy will be a gift to me. 

So yesterday I took some photos on a gorgeous fall day. I wanted to share them with you. I love fall the the season changing and it reminds me that I am in a tough season of my life but my season will change. But I need to have my mindset right and push my body some to get there. 

Airboat in the Everglades. 

I think for me the best part of the airboat trip in Everglades national park was when I was on dry land. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good boat ride. I loved the slow parts where we talked about the Mangrove trees and where I was like two feet from an Alligator. That was all cool – I just am not a fan of trying to make a boat fly. I don’t like feeling as if we are out of control because we are going so fast – and I do not like doing 180s in a boat either.

I spent a lot of time trying to be brave – my glass of wine buzz that I got at lunch in preparation for a fast ride on a boat was well worn off as the wait was so long for our number to be called letting us know it was our time for our flight/ride through the Everglades.

I tried to be brave. Fast boats are not my thing and I hoped an airboat would feel different when going fast. And it does. It’s real smooth. You feel like you are gliding on top of the shiny briny water because you are -flying on top of it. It’s smooth not choppy and bumpy like a regular boat but is still freaking fast and it’s the fast – it turns out – that I dislike.

I even shot some photos while we were flying through the canals that were flanked by mangroves – I tried to just let go and enjoy.  I even once had my hands in the air like I just did not care – yay me. But I spent much of the fast parts trip tucked with my head down. When Kevin caught on that I was scared he put his arm around me. Nice man.


You can’t tell but we were going very fast here!

Turns out our guide was a lead foot and we did a lot of fast moving. Maybe BC there were only two areas that had gators out that day. Maybe he wanted to give us our money’s worth.  But we went fast!

Incoming airboat as we were heading out.

Incoming airboat as we were heading out.

In between the going super fast part our tour guide did stop and teach us a few things about the area.

There are three types of Mangrove trees in the area – the red, the black and the white. It is illegal to cut down the mangroves and I read on the park website for Florida that if a person needs to cut back the mangroves for some reason there are many rules and approvals that one needs to get to do that. A person can be fined for cutting down mangroves willy nilly. Mangroves are part of a delicate ecosystem in the everglades so I can see why there might be regulations. The driver felt that the mangroves were overtaking the everglades – and to him it was a problem. Maybe it makes getting their boats around more difficult. Each airboat company operator only can travel in specific areas in the everglades so it is probably not uncommon that they need to cut back the trees to allow their boats to be able to get in and out.  I found the mangroves to be very interesting and beautiful.


Mangrove roots

Mangrove Trees

Mangrove Trees


An early blooming Mangrove tree.

An early blooming Mangrove tree.

We also learned about a big problem that is messing with the delicate ecosystem in the everglades- the Burmese Python. This snake is not a natural animal in the everglades. They were put there by people who got them as pets but could no longer care for them. The python population has grown over the years in the everglades and they are eating everything in sight. They can even take on an alligator – the other big eater in the glades. The snakes pose a threat to endangered species in the everglades. I noticed a big lack of birds when we were on the tour. I was hoping to see more seabirds but there were very few. I suspect some reasons for this are the snakes who will eat the eggs (and a bird if they snag one). There are python hunts now yearly which may hopefully help slow the growth of the python population.

What I wanted to see in the wild were Gators! We were able to see two in the habitat. It is thrilling to see these prehistoric looking beings in their natural habitat.  We had seen some in the “zoo” that was attached to this tour company -but seeing them in the wild is even cooler. When we arrived to buy our tickets we also saw one in the water adjacent to the ticket booth. He was a big one. I tried to get pictures of him through the fence but seeing them from the boat with no fencing separating us from them was really awesome. One smaller gator was about two feet from our boat and she swam away as we approached but I was able to get some good shots as she was on my side of the boat. I made sure I dove for an end seat on the boat when our number was finally called – I wasn’t going to like the speed but I was going to get a prime picture taking seat. It occurred to me later that many people actually go on the trip for the airboat ride not for photo ops – I was one of only a couple of people that carried a DSLR camera. I was not there for the thrill ride but I did get to see some gators and that made the trip worth it-even the 180s. _ well maybe.

This is the guy we saw when we were getting our tickets.

This is the guy we saw when we were getting our tickets.

Another shot of the guy we met at the ticket booth.

Another shot of the guy we met at the ticket booth.

This is the gator that was close to my side of the boat on our tour.

This is the gator that was close to my side of the boat on our tour.


She said – “see ya!”

My dad – who was also on this ride with us- said- “It was my first and last airboat ride” – yes Dad it is a one and done for me too. But it was worth the scariness and the discomfort I think.

I wanted to chat a bit about the “zoo” that was part of the tour companies property. We got free tickets because there was a long wait for our turn on the airboat. The zoo was an enclosed area of maybe an acre or two that housed some pretty amazing animals. I am not a big fan of these types of zoos – the enclosures are not big enough for the animals that are in them. There were even signs all over saying they knew that the enclosures did not meet USDA requirements and they were in the process of building more. I didn’t see any evidence of that on the premises so I had to have faith that these signs weren’t just up to appease the masses. I will say that all the enclosures were clean and all of the animals looked healthy.

I enjoyed taking pictures of the animals there. They had a room of reptiles that were examples of what lives wild in the area- and there was a burmese python along with a rattle snake and some lizards. My camera did not take a good shot in that room – but the python was scary big and I was told that was a medium sized guy.

I was floored to see a panther,and even lions and tigers in this zoo. They were all sleeping or sunning themselves- none seemed particularly stressed in any way. Of course there were tons of gators and they had some crocodiles too. In one enclosure we saw some birds – egrets – I think- and vultures. As I mentioned before there was a lack of birds out in the glades- but plenty that flew in and out of the enclosures. I also fell in love with some otters. How can you not love an otter?

Overall I think the trip was really fun. Most people don’t hate fast boats as much as I do.  If you go have lunch in Everglades City first. They have a few restaurants that are pretty good. We ate at one that was changing management and they were in the middle of a huge remodel and there wasn’t even a name on the place but my dad’s wife ate there before so we trusted her – it was a mess inside but the back deck was open. And we had a nice lunch. I may or may not have tried and liked gator bites- but I am not saying. The gators might find out and they bite…!


A night in Orlando

I’m not a party animal anymore. Yes- a long time ago I liked to have a few drinks and let loose with the best of them. But age and the hatred of feeling crummy the next day has slowed me down. Now I’m up late if it’s 10pm. 

So how did I did I find myself out at a party the other night  that didn’t begin until 9pm?  Well I wa he played out in Orlando with two of my kids and Kevin my husband who is here on business. He is working the biggest fitness trade show in the US. His company hosted a VIP party last night and we got tickets. I guess because we are important(not because it was  mandatory for employees to at least show up-enjoy wink.) So I had to go right? 

Well I wanted to go in theory but it was going to cut into my bedtime. So I wasn’t sure. Kevin could go alone except he doesn’t like doing the party scene alone and he really hoped I’d go.  Stick him in front of 5000 people and ask him to talk business and he’s your man. But some social situations make him quiver and he doesn’t drink to calm his nerves. 

Since his precense at least for some of the evening was mandatory, I was feeling like I should go -plus it would be a reason to dress up some and I had just the dress in mind to wear. One that I bought 2 years ago and loved on me but never wore.  It was one of those dresses that could go dressy or go more casual. Perfecto.  It still had tags. It needed a debut. And I had just the shoes. I didn’t care a lick about the party but I wanted to dress up some!

Was Cinderella into going to the ball to find a guy or for the awesome ball gown? I am guessing the duds. Maybe im wrong. She is nearby- in Disney -maybe I should ask her. I’m sure she’d say the clothes. 

So after a busy day walking around the trade show as hubby worked and then spent some time at the pool (so tiring laying in paradise) I was hoping to get a second wind so I could enjoy said party. After I got myself ready I was feeling pretty good. I looked ok -not as in shape as I was when I got the dress but I was looking ok and Kevin thought I looked awesome so that was the point -right? 

We had the teens to contend with. Our two sons are with us here and our daughter joins us on the next leg of our trip in Marco Island.  So we took the boys to dinner. I was a little over dressed for Johhny Rockets but that place is great for the boys. And it was right near the restaurant where the party was being held. And near a movie theater where the boys would be going while we got our groove on. 

Once we disposed of the boys (and I mean that in the nicest way) we strutted our stuff over to the Partay!!  I was kind of excited – which surprised me. 

  The restaurant/bar Cuba Libre was impressive. Kevin’s company pulled out all the stops. Outside they had  two women that were like ten feet tall dressed in gold sequin dresses  standing sentry at the door. They were a sight to see and many people were taking photos.   Inside the restaurant looked like a little town in Cuba. Well I haven’t been to Cuba but I’m thinking that was the effect they were trying to go for. It had beautiful dyed concrete floors and the walls were all fronts of buildings so you felt like you were out in the streets. 

Kevin’s company had rented the entire place for the VIP party for the night. Very private and posh We got there early hoping to make the rounds and then make a quick exit. But there weren’t many people there yet so we’d have to wait a while to make our precense known.  So we may as well make the best of it I thought. 

We migrated to the upper level via a very lovely and long stairway. I got a drink. I said hubby doesn’t drink. I do occasionally and usually no more than one or two. I’m a lightweight. 

We began to see folks Kevin knew arrive and we said some hellos. I was kind of bored and chilly upstairs and I wanted to bail and go back to the hotel room and watch hgtv. But we pressed our way back downstairs and thats where the real action was. The dance floor was packed and the DJ played EDM (electronic dance music) which I didn’t know much about (and still don’t really) until my almost 18 year old daughter got into it. I was ways poo pooing her love of EDM and told her all the kids do at those EDM events are drugs-I’m a harpy sometimes.  And maybe that’s true but I was sort of digging the music at this event. I couldn’t do that nightly my brain would be mush from the intense bass. But I could see why my daughter might like it! Hopefully drug free. 

The dancing was infectious I kind of wanted to jump in. Kevin isn’t a dancer at all and he said I should jump in the fray if I wanted to but I had only one drink in me and it was a small one. I needed more alcohol to fuel my dance legs-so I opted to stay on the edge of the floor and dance some and take photos. And it turned out that I got some kinda cool photos.


A hired photographer was walking around and taking photos of groups and we got in a photo thus cataloging our attendance at the party-(later I would photo bomb another group -it was too much right in my face not to do it – a little of the party Anne is still inside me!) So –hey -after being in an official corporate picture and a photo bomb we could go now there was proof of our attendance -except we didn’t leave. We were kind of having fun watching the dancing .  It wasn’t a place to hold any conversation so I just said hello and smiled a lot. Which was fine with me. I don’t like screaming over blaring music. 

The bummer of the night for me was that the place was getting smoky – they had a cigar making bar set up outside on a terrace. (Cuban bar thing I guess). There are still smoking areas at bars in Florida -outside- but the smoke wafted inside as the doors opened and closed.  And I am super sensitive to smoke. I can’t believe I ever smoked years ago. It boggles me how I did it. But it was getting bad so we went back upstairs hoping for a respite from the pungent cigar smoke – but the smoke was up there too. 

We sat for a bit watching the dancing and I felt myself getting sleepy and a little sick from the smoke . Ugh I’m so not a party girl. I needed a coffee to wake up except I don’t drink caffeine anymore. I know – I feel bad for me to! 

I think Kevin was just waiting for me to say we could go so he had an excuse if anyone from work asked why he left early. 

It was a good party. And the fun was in the watching I think. Though I would have danced maybe if I had another drink. Maybe. 

The company tried to make it a nice night for clients with the dancing and drinks and finger foods. They even had artists doing caricatures -on iPads -my have things changed. I had to take a pictures of that. 

We took a turn in the photo booth they had in a corner and even donned some kooky hats – I still have our photo booth pictures from 18 years ago. Back then you didn’t see them at parties or weddings like you do now.  I wonder if any over indulged parties took photos in there later in the evening. 

Alas I wouldn’t find out as the smoke forced us to have to take leave. No more watching the dancing from the floor of the balconies. We had to squeeze our way  out the door to head home. 

I am not a party girl. This event was so out of my element but it was good I went. And with people of all ages dancing I didn’t feel too old. I think I’ve been feeling old lately for some reason. It was kind of fun really and we realized as we left it was after midnight. 

Way past Cinderellas bedtime and mine-and I didn’t lose a slipper. 

But I already had the handsome prince.  

that last shot i wasnt ready for!


Split trip- Gettysburg

In the run around whirl that is a life with three teens it is sometimes hard to stop and smell the roses. On any given day we are usually driving at least one teen to and from some activity. Last weekend it was a soccer tournament. It was being held in Gettysburg. PA – one of my favorotie places…but for 2 days of a long weekend? Blah!

My to do list at the farmstead was piling up. And another weekend away was not on my radar. It turns out I must have jinxed myself bc we got a reprieve and didn’t have to go on the first day of the tourney. But that was because my husband, Kevin, was getting over a terrible stomach flu that he had for a week and he ended up in the ER one stormy evening. On Saturday, he was still not feeling up to spending all day watching soccer- there were 4 games that ran all day. I got Luke a ride (thanks Coach!) and we stayed home and tried to tackle a few things on the long to do list despite my husband not be quite recovered. Half a day in and we reached our limit of outdoor work and decided to relax on the deck or nap. Even though we didn’t get much done it was nice to just do nothing for a bit. ALL the kids were out doing something – it was so quiet at home. I had a tiny bit of guilt that I didn’t watch the soccer games- but Luke broke his arm and is in a cast so I wasn’t sure how much playing time he would get – so skipping it for the day seemed ok.

But on Sunday we got up and packed the car and Kevin and I, and our two boys(my daughter opted out), headed out to Gettysburg College. There were swarms of soccer players and fans out there. I was shocked at the number. Gettysburg College is a beautiful college. I looked up online the cost to go there (hey I have three teens- gotta consider these things) and WHOA! It was pricey! Well – kids enjoy it today or get a scholarship! Of course the 14 year old boys were not as taken as we were. To them college is 100 years away. The homes surrounding the college are gorgeous. We would get excited seeing the greek letters on the outside of some of the homes. My boys werent a bit excited. Well they acted a tiny bit excited when asked -“Do you see that building? There’s the quad…look at the dorms”… I would get a slight peak of interest but not much. Oh well  – Kevin and I had fun.


Luke and the soccer ball


We watched about 2 hours of soccer – the games had a huge break in between so we decided to grab Luke and head over to the battlefield. (stopping to smell the roses- get it?) Again the interest from the boys wasn’t quite there. They did enjoy the cannons and Ozzy seemed to like looking at the grave markers in the cemetery. The cemetery is my favorite place. I feel so calm there and I love that Lincoln stood there and gave the Gettysburg address. It gives me chills.

Site of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Site of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

I am not a Civil War buff – but I do find the entire place interesting.  The history of that place (51,000 casualties in that 3 day battle) and what those battles meant can’t be lost even on the least interested in civil war history. Driving along the battlefield is cool but can get a little tedious if you aren’t into every detail of the battle.The views are worth it though. I pictured in my head what it must have been like for the soldiers on those fields way back in July of 1863. It is quite overwhelming. The rock formations of Devil’s Den are so awesome. So much fun to climb on. We did not have time this trip to do the battlefield drive nor did we do a Devils Den visit.-which may have been a smart thing to skip when you have a kid in a cast that needs to play another soccer game!

Devils Den

Devil’s Den Gettysburg, PA

The old Battle Map – it has been moved to Hanover PA

I know my fondness for Gettysburg began as a kid. I remember taking field trips with school and coming up with family. Way back when I recall a room where there was a giant map that lit up as a man talked about the battle. That map was moved in 2012 to Hanover, PA in York County. More info on that here. The Battlefield visitors center now is huge and modern. It houses a great museum that we toured a few years ago with all three kids. I hope to get back soon and tour it when there is more time.

The one thing you notice when you are in Gettysburg is it is so clean. Everywhere is clean. It reminds me of being in Disney and how you never saw a piece of trash- it was like little hands would come up out of the ground to swipe even the tiniest wrappers away…how did they do that?  The town itself is so inviting. Lots of fun shops and restaurants. Years ago Kevin and I stayed at a lovely B&B in town called the Brickhouse Inn. This place was great and still boasts great reviews I see. This time it was just a day trip as we are only about an hours drive from Gettysburg…but I fell in love with The Gettysburg Hotel and I hope to get back there for a night with Kevin maybe in the fall. This hotel is old but is renovated to add modern touches. If you want truly authentic old places stick to the B&Bs. There are many to choose from.

We dropped Luke off to get ready for his late afternoon game and we headed over to town to grab some lunch. We ate at the Pub Restaurant. It was really good. It was hopping too. Games on in the bar, seats filled indoors and out. A gorgeous Sunday will get the tourists and shoppers alike out and about I guess. The food was very good. Kevin and I opted for the same thing- a turkey club on pretzel bread. I had leftovers – it was pretty big. Ozzy had a burger which by the sheer fact he inhaled I know he enjoyed (or maybe he was just starving as it was a late lunch!) I think it was both. It was nice to get such good service and good food with a place that was so busy.

Because I take photos of the games, I brought my heavy Canon because it has the longest lens. When we decided to walk from the visitors center to the cemetery and back I was a bit bummed I brought the heavy one. I wish I had thought to put my Fitbit on so I knew how far we walked that day. It was a good clip. I did end up getting some nice photos from the camera. I am drawn to nature and kept stopping on the path through the woods that leads to the

IMG_6596cemetery to take pictures of tree bark and wildflowers. The boys were very patient! On the way I heard a man complaining about not having the right lens and Kevin looked at me and said “every photographers complaint”. Yes it is (he has heard me say this many times), unless you lug all your gear or two(or more) cameras with different size lenses with you. I too had my complaints wishing for a shorter lens in some places and a wide angle in others.  I had my phone with me too which I used a bit.  I could have taken my second camera but with a bad shoulder I may have been pressing my luck. My lovely sons and hubby did carry things for me though. Had I known that they would do this so willingly I may have added that second camera to my arsenal.


Somehow the last two times I have been in Gettysburg it has been on Memorial Day weekend. The flags marking each grave are really something.


We watched a little more soccer(we won the last game-consolation game but its a win!) then headed to get some ice cream. We happened on a Mr. G’s home made ice cream shop right across from a beer garden and next to a wine garden…hello are we in heaven? I know where I am headed next time we come to town- hint they serve sangria…yes you know!

Line for the ice cream! You know its good stuff when there is a line out the door!


Artists along the street… and wine garden on the other side of the fence!























I have to say trying to do stuff soccer and a visit to some of the historic sites in Gettysburg is a lot to take in a day – but it was fun. I hope my sons got a little something out of it. It is hard to impress a teen unless there is food or money dangling in front of them- but I enjoyed spending time with them and I enjoyed being in such a cool town. Gettysburg, PA is definitely worth a trip to see. There is a lot to do. You wont be bored – I promise (ok I cannot say this when it come to teens but the rest of you wont be bored…).

I created a photo gallery of the day (no soccer pics). You can find that here. ( a couple photo credits go to Kevin and Luke!)

Thanks for reading….


Beer garden and restaurant..


I loved the trees in the cemetery…






Out of my element….

I have been trying to get out and take more photos lately with my 35mm and not just the Iphone. I had gotten a new Nikon a couple years ago and shelved my Canon(i felt my Canon had issues)- then my daughter began to use it and I loved the photos she was getting out of it. I thought maybe I had been too hard on that Canon but I had the Nikon and I felt I needed to move on. Plus the daughter had it and I didnt want to confiscate it from her if she was going to use it.

Well fast forward to a few months ago when I found the Canon sitting alone on my daughters shelf. She hadn’t given up photography but shelved it (sorry had to go there) for a while. So I thought why not take that Canon out for a spin. But I took it down and forgot about it for a while. Until my son’s soccer began.

Let me get something straight I am not a sports photographer. I have never been good at shooting any sport. I had a class in photography years ago and I had an assignment to take pictures of sport. I think I chose racquetball (it was when that was a fad). I don’t have any photos left from that assignment bc I am fairly certain I burned all of them. They were really bad. But since then I have taken thousands of photos of my kids sporting events- horse shows, soccer and more soccer, basketball, swimming etc. Not all of the pictures came out badly but they werent great. See I took all those photos bc it was a way for me to deal with my anxiety. I have an anxiety disorder and being in crowds watching my kids play sports was really overwhelming for me. Get me in a gym watching basketball and I about came out of my skin. The noise, the buzzers- it was just sensory overload for me. I stayed behind the camera bc it gives me something to focus on (and through) which seems to stave off the anxiety.

It is amazing that I can do something like shooting pictures where I feel so out of my element in order to squash another issue I have that makes me feel so out of my element. It is like when you are somewhere where you feel out of your element and you DO something that you feel is out of your element the two together can equal calm… I am not sure why this is but it works for me. I think it might be very different if some fool actually hired me to take sports pictures. I’d be a mess! Probably wouldn’t show up.

A while back I read an article online about taking decent sports shots and some of the tips were helpful – esp the one about having the ball in the picture…ahh makes sense why that might be a good idea. (I had many pics prior to this with no ball in it – some might work but others looked like some kid standing waiting for something to happen) – only interesting to the kids parents probably.

So I pulled the Canon out when I was heading to one of our sons soccer games. I have a longer lens for that camera. Wouldn’t you know shooting with the Canon felt like I had an old friend with me. I have never been as comfortable with my Nikon…it takes nice pictures but I am too slow on changing settings on the fly with it. Nice slow shots like flowers and such are ok bc I can putter with it. When I got home from the game and looked at the pictures I was happy with them in terms of the color..I felt like the Canon had been washing out colors and that is why I got a Nikon. Seems like I was wrong. The actual action shots were just ok to me- but I thought I would share them with the team parents since I put them on my OneDrive up in the cloud (so cool is the cloud). Wasn’t it so nice to later get emails thanking me for the photos – some even said they were good. One dad asked about the size of my lens–hmmm personal right?

I am so glad the parents seem to like them. And since it is easier for me to hide behind my camera (I still get a cheer in here or there!) I suppose I will keep this up. And I am finding that taking sports photos isn’t so bad. I am actually liking the results. So I am learning that its ok to be out of your element – you keep pushing through it and all at once you feel comfortable.

Thanks for reading…

Here are some shots from a few different game. I tossed one in of Rudy as he attends many games with me!:




My son Ozzy has his struggles as I have written about before and we are facing some new issues and are constantly trying to help him and get him help. Ozzy is a many things. I’m not sure I’ll ever figure him out. But one wonderful thing about him is the little kid in him. Don’t get me wrong I complain that he is immature and he is. Very. And that has not played well for him when making choices. But with this side there is a better side bc Ozzy isn’t afraid to like things a teen might feel is too uncool. He loves puzzles. He loves joke books. He still loves Legos. He loves Rubiks cubes. He embraces his inner nerd and loves Robotics. He’s in the robotics club at school and his first competition is this weekend. He is stoked. When we pick him up from club he talks non-stop.

Maybe it hasn’t occurred to Ozzy that some of this isn’t “cool” to other teens or maybe he doesn’t care. I hope he never loses this part of himself. His inner child. For all the issues he has he is very real when he is doing these things. Yes sometimes he gets mad at a puzzle and I worry he might annoy others in robotics bc he thinks he’s always right. But I am glad he holds onto these pleasures in life. He’s always the one to want to jump in and play a board game. And this year he is the only kid of mine that wanted to help decorate the house for Christmas.

When my mom was here last week for thanksgiving we got the tree out (our Walmart special) and decided we would decorate the tree. I was looking forward to this because my mom and I hadn’t decorated a tree together for many many years. We spent many years together when I was young decorating the tree and I still have some of the ornaments from way back then. My parents divorced so at some point in my early adulthood I was given all the ornaments from my kid years. Many have fallen apart but there are still some great ones and I looked forward to sharing these with my mom.

My two “cool” teens didn’t seem interested in helping us decorate but Ozzy was up for it. So my mom and I and Ozzy set out putting ornaments on our small tree. Ozzy would have discussed each one if he could and he spends much time digging way down into the too full bins to find forgotten ornaments. He would find maimed ones and want to adorn the tree with them. God love him. When we finished the tree we sat down to rest and I never got to the rest of the decorating in the house until yesterday. When I began to go through the boxes who jumped up and asked to help? Not the cool ones. I did get L to put out a few Santas. But it was Ozzy who wanted to really help. He began digging in the bins again and took so much joy in finding things.

I can only smile though. Such a troubled kid sometimes – who has this side of himself- is so endearing. If you just watched that scene yesterday you would never know he has issues. It’s that part of him that keeps me digging to get help for the other parts. You realize that people aren’t all one thing or another. We are like diamonds- multi-faceted. Flaws and beauty. I keep thinking that we can polish Ozzy’s flaws. We will keep trying -everyday- but even a flawed diamond has beauty and value. That’s when I realize that I’m finally learning to appreciate Ozzy for who he is now. I spent so much time focusing on the issues that I forgot about the shiny parts. Now I’m trying to focus on the shiny while still trying polish the flaws. It’s a journey I am just beginning to understand. God gave us this child for a reason and if anything maybe this journey of helping him is actually helping me to grow.

Thanks for Reading…