Readers, Welcome to my blog (formerly Birds, Blooms, Books, etc). I'm entering a new decade taking on the challenge of moving from Maryland after living there 46 years and learning about my new home here in New England in the Live Free or Die state - New Hampshire. Join me as a write this new chapter of my life.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019



Sunday, December 15, 2019

Poinsettia Tree

Last century when the daughters were young, the Columbia Mall built a poinsettia tree in the middle of the center fountain area.  Sometime in this century a renovation of the Mall eliminated the fountain area by paving it over.  The poinsettia tree placement there disappeared for a time until complaints asking for its return.

I don't often shop at the Columbia Mall and especially have avoided it at the holiday shopping times but Friday Dan and I went to see Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers at the AMC theatre there and then had dinner in the food court in the Mall.  The shortest walk back to our car to avoid the rain was through the Mall and past the poinsettia tree.

I don't think it looks quite like it used to.  It looks too crowded in the space.  There was something special about being built in the fountain pool before that set it off nicely.  At least its back.

By the way the Mr. Rogers movie is a gem!  A must see if you have a chance.  Tom Hanks really becomes the character he's playing quite masterfully.  The one critical comment I had was there was no mention of Mr. Rogers being an ordained Presbyterian minister and his show was his ministry.

[I'm back from hibernation because I found myself caught up with all the Christmas to do list for now.]

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Sharing a Letter from Mayor Pete

If you haven't taken a look at Pete Buttigieg I suggest you do so.  I think he's the best one right now for all of us.

Good morning,

My time as mayor in South Bend is almost over. Earlier this week, I attended my final city council meeting -- and reflected on how far South Bend has come.

When I took office in January 2012, it had been just over 47 years since the last Studebaker rolled off the line in a South Bend factory. It was only one year since we had been named a “dying city” by Newsweek magazine.

Every administration in the previous fifty years had to undertake heroic work simply to keep the city afloat. The 2010 Census told us our population was in decline, and the blows we had faced as an economy were everywhere in the crumbling, vacant houses dragging down our neighborhoods.

South Bend’s wounded psyche loomed over us in those first months I was mayor. But today, thanks to the resilience of our community, South Bend’s trajectory has been changed beyond recognition. Our population has seen a fragile but steady increase, while our unemployment rate has fallen drastically -- from 11.8 percent to 3.9 percent. City partnerships have brought in over $900 million in private investment, representing over 7,500 jobs.

We are no longer known as a dying city. Instead, we’re a beta city -- a national model for innovative ideas and practices.

We are on the cutting edge of urban mobility, and are pioneering systems of lifelong learning. Last year South Bend was named a top Race-Informed City by Governing Magazine thanks to efforts to recognize and remove barriers to inclusive economic development.

The challenges and opportunities ahead for our city are enormous, but we know this much: South Bend is back. And now we need a new approach for our country, too. We need solutions big enough to meet this moment and unifying enough to actually get things done.

The crises we face have been years in the making, and politicians in Washington have seemed more interested in fighting with each other than in actually fighting to make our lives better. Americans are so fed up with the dysfunction and division -- especially from this president -- that many of us have completely given up on the idea that government can do anything for them.

But America has overcome tremendous challenges before and we can do it again. If we can summon the courage to break with the past, and if we can enlist the energies of every American, then we can be proud to tell our kids what we did to leave them a better future.

I am running for president because America is running out of time, and I am profoundly grateful for your support and partnership.



Monday, December 2, 2019

Seasons Greetings from My Front Door to Yours

December is here already!

My to do list is incredibly long right now.  And unfortunately it's not all to do with preparing to celebrate Christmas beginning with Buffalo daughter and family's arrival on the 22nd. I tell myself it will all get done.

Thanksgiving was a whirlwind: 4 days in Buffalo then 4 days in  New Hampshire.  We traveled almost an equilateral triangle from home to Buffalo to NH to home.

We enjoyed two turkeys cooked differently.

We saw our granddaughters enjoy their Christmas presents that were too large to share from here: a child sized table and two chairs for Granddaughter #3 in Buffalo and a climbing dome for granddaughters #1 & 2 in New Hampshire

We had lots of laughs.

Now it's time to hibernate and get the list tackled then enjoy the holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Also Thankful ...

... that we have been able to travel the world.  

My magnet collection on the refrigerator attests to our travel.

Here are some places we've been in this century that I'm reminded of each day.

Do you collect magnets on your travels?

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Thankful Again

Thankful for my mother and grandmother (pictured below) who were great pie makers and

who passed on the skill to me.

And thankful for my husband who in his woodworking period made this wonderful rolling pin to roll out the crust and cutting board to cut up the apples upon.

Saturday, November 16, 2019


November is the month of giving thanks though we really should be doing it year round.

I will devote the rest of my posts this month to what I'm thankful for.

When I was in Barcelona in October I was on a search for a blue plate.  I did see some that were very very gaudy, not my style.  I finally found one in the large department store El Cortes Ingles.  Though the plate wasn't made in Spain, it was made in neighboring Portugal.  It was perfect!

Yesterday we hung it in the kitchen with other precious plates.  It was too big for under the cabinets and there really wasn't enough room there if it had been smaller.  Dan found a good visible spot for it over the refrigerator and visible then from our dining room.

Here it is and the other precious plates that I'm thankful for. Note they all are under the cabinet so there is a shadow line in each photo.

It is the biggest one at 13 in diameter.  The pics below don't give you a frame of reference for sizes but they are of varying sizes.

Metal tray painted by my mother

Plate given to me one Christmas long ago by my mother.

Plate from my mother's china cabinet.  I have no idea about its history.

Wooden plate painted by my mother.

A plate from Italy given to me by daughter Emily on her return from studying in Siena in the fall of her sophomore year.

Now you see why the plate I purchased in Spain had to be blue!  It's now added to my treasured collection for which I am very thankful.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Barcelona - Last Post

I have so many photos and little time to sift through them right now.

Here's an overview of what else we saw while we were staying in Barcelona, Spain.

One day we took the train to Terragona. This beach town was settled by the Romans in the 2nd century BC.

Lots of Roman ruins to view from the wall and towers

to the Circle Roman where chariot races were held

to the amphitheater where gladiators once fought.


A nice walk on a Sunday afternoon brought us to the Arc de Triumph built for the 1888 Universal Exhibition.


Another day trip was to Montserrat, home to a Benedictine monastery built in 1025.

From the train we took a cable car to the top.

That little church marks the spot where a hermit lived.

We hiked up halfway and here's Dan preparing to go the rest of the way.

Another hermitage site gave me a seat to wait for him.


An overnight trip was to Madrid by high speed train.

We arrived in the afternoon and found out how to get tickets the next day to the Prado.

Inside the Prado, no more photos after this because no photographing allowed.


A great museum in Barcelona was the Museum of the History of Barcelona.  We took an elevator down to the basement where you walk through Roman ruins.


Another tour we took was the Palace of Music of Catalan. 

This is a concert hall.  Designed by a mentor of Gaudi.

Lots of wonderful memories.  You'll see more of these one day.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Barcelona - 6

La Sagrada Familia
From my unTours Guide book:
Unlike any church you've ever seen - seriously - La Sagrada Familia (the Holy Family) is probably Barcelona's most popular landmarks and Antoni Gaudi's most well-known creation.  The church has been under construction for over 125 years ad still has a long way to go.  When questioned on this subject, Gaudi is known to have responded "My client (God) is not in a hurry."


Each facade of the church is to represent a biblical scene, specifically: the birth of Christ (Nativity Facade) which Gaudi lived to complete; the crucifixion of Christ (Passion Facade) designed by Joseph Subirach (which has received a lot of criticism due to its break from Gaudi's style) and the future Glory facade to represent Christ's resurrection.  Gaudi died in 1925 and many his original plans were destroyed a decade later during the civil war (though the church was not damaged). Only eight of the planned eighteen towers are finished to date and it is estimated that construction will be completed in 2026.

Nativity Facade

 Passion Facade.



Here's what's on top of those spires.

We booked a tour for our visit.  Everything is very closely controlled by the church including airport like screening devices.
Here's our guide giving us instructions before we entered.

To me it didn't have the reverence of a church.  There were just too many people and not being particularly quiet.

To read more about the construction go here.

Gaudi's intent they say was to recreate nature with columns representing trees and all the various light coming in.

The stained glass was magnificent.

 We were told that the only people allowed to worship here have to live in the neighborhood.  The church is closed during worship time.