Past & Phavorites – Throwback & Nurturing Thursday/The Waltons

I’ve already been playing Christmas music and loving every minute of it. One of my very favorite CD’s is ‘A Walton’s Christmas – Together Again.’ This CD was given to me by my sister many years ago. Not only is it a perfect choice for Nurturing Thursday, the  music and show are also an excellent selection for Throwback Thursday. It’s easy to see how well-loved and played the CD has been over the years by the battered state of the case. If like me, you are immediately uplifted by the opening chords of this song, enjoy listening to the Youtube video below. If you have never seen ‘The Waltons,’ try and find these reruns on your cable channels for enjoyable Christmas nostalgia.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday through the Windshield

Before I go further than this first sentence, I must apologize for the quality of the photograph. The word ‘windshield’ works nicely with the alliteration in the title of the post, but the photograph is terrible. We have had so much rain in our area, and I was on a busy road with low visibility, and well..um…I weaseled out of getting a great shot, and just settled for whatever would show up through the windshield.

One reason for taking the photograph from inside the cozy car is a response from someone to my photography attempts in a previous week. I found a cute weather vane on a feeding stall in a field, with the sweetest little donkey nearby, and stopped my car to take a photo. “Get off the grass!” a belligerent shout broke into my enthusiastic endeavor, and I realized it was the owner of the field shouting at me for parking in front of the field. He was within his rights though; my right side tires were touching his grass. I waved in apology to him and hurriedly drove away half-expecting to be stopped by the police for trespassing. Now I am more careful of where I stop, or park; I don’t want to damage a well-maintained lawn. This photo was taken in Harrison Township, New Jersey. (The location is only half a block from the belligerent donkey owner.)

Take a look at these terrific weather vanes:
The 59 Club – Against the Clouds
Heaven’s Sunshine – Top of the Candy Shop

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

Photograph – Rainy Day Trio

I ventured out with my umbrella today for City Sonnet’s Umbrella Challenge. It also was the perfect opportunity to take photos for my first time posting on Dutch Goes the Photograph’s Tuesday Photo Challenge of Trio. Here’s my trio of trios for the challenge.

Wisteria Pods

Barberry Berries

Bald Cypress Cones

If the temperatures were colder we’d be covered in a blanket of snow. Locations a bit north of us might be getting their first snowfall today. In the Mid-Atlantic state of New Jersey, my home, we’ve had more rain in 2018 than I can ever remember.

“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.
New Jerseyans have been humming that tune to no avail for what seems like all of 2018, a year that is poised to go down as one of the wettest in our state’s recorded history.”
~ Asbury Park Press

Too bad a challenge word today wasn’t ‘doozy,’ because that is exactly what the Farmer’s Almanac forecasts for New Jersey’s Winter of 2019. Oh my, considering the weather pattern of the last months I can easily believe the Almanac is right.

Project – Comminatory Weather and The Big Save

Comminatory is the challenge word today for ‘Your Daily Word Prompt.’ I enjoy expanding my vocabulary, and this was a new word for me: comminatory-threatening, punitive, or vengeful. We have certainly had a change to comminatory weather here in southern New Jersey. Frost, frozen bird baths, ice-sheathed grass blades, are what we wake to in the early morning hours. Today I noticed every garden flower that was lingering is now brown and drooping lifelessly.

I knew a freeze was coming, and took a bit of time on Saturday to walk around the yard and take a few photos of the last flowers of Autumn. I noticed the dill was still green and on closer inspection was astonished to see two black swallowtail caterpillars on its foliage. Since I had good luck a year ago raising caterpillars on dill plants on the porch I decided I should try and save these poor critters from the hard freeze. Unfortunately, my ambitions were forgotten until the evening hours. Resolved not to be put off by my forgetfulness, I went out in the dark and found one caterpillar, the other eluded me.

I placed him in a vase and covered the opening with a knee-high stocking. These make great barriers and are easy to slip over the top of a jar or vase. The soft nylon will not harm the insect.

The caterpillar became lively overnight and the next day my grandsons helped me create a habitat for him. We dug up any dill plants still growing, a parsley plant, and added branching sticks for him to form a chrysalis upon. I know from past experience, while eating and growing, the caterpillar will not leave the food source. When he’s ready to form a chrysalis he might wander, but its fairly easy to find him if he is contained in one area.

We decided it was worth a second look in the garden for the second caterpillar, and after a little searching found him motionless in the garden soil. My grandson said he thought he saw him twitch a bit so we carefully brushed him into a small container and took him indoors. Within an hour or two the caterpillar that appeared lifeless began to move and this morning had joined the other on the dill.

Black swallowtails in their chrysalis have no problem overwintering. A small caterpillar, caught in a hard freeze, isn’t likely to survive to form a chrysalis without a food source. Updates will follow on our winter visitors.

Photographs & Quotes – Morning Walk, November, Glen Lake

I often walk or bike to a small pond near my home to admire the way the surrounding landscape perfectly depicts the changing seasons. This week the beauty of Autumn was painted there in glorious colors by the Father of all Creation.

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

                                                 ~ G.K. Chesterton

“This way of seeing our Father in everything makes life one long thanksgiving and gives a rest of heart, and, more than that, a gayety of spirit, that is unspeakable.”

                                        ~ Hannah Whitall Smith

“In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety.”

                                                   ~ A.W. Tozer

This post is part of Sunday Trees.

Phriday Phads, Pheathers & A Photo Challenge – Pull Up a Seat

I was pulling the trash cans to the curb when my neighbor across the street called out to me, “Look up.” I did, immediately ditched the trash can, and ran for my camera. I was lucky and the bronze and brown hawk wasn’t disrupted by my motion beneath him. He sat prettily for his portrait against the overcast sky. He’s a beauty, and I believe he is the same hawk I’ve written of in past posts.

For some reason he brought to mind pole-sitters. I’m assuming that in the generations born after me, most people have no idea what constitutes a pole-sitter. Pole-sitting didn’t take a lot of skill, just a bit of bravado and endurance.

Wikipedia says: “Pole sitting is the practice of sitting on top of a pole (such as a flagpole) for extended lengths of time, generally used as a test of endurance. A small platform is typically placed at the top of the pole for the sitter. Led by the stunt actor and former sailor Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly, flagpole sitting was a fad in the mid-to-late 1920s, but mostly died out after the start of the Great Depression.”

If you have never heard of pole-sitting, take a look at this quick Youtube video:

This post is part of Pull Up A Seat Challenge.

Photo Challenge – What is That?

On Saturday, during our walk at the Tall Pines State Preserve, a forest filled with beautiful pines and deciduous trees, we came upon a beautiful lake. We noticed a strange bird, or large bug of some kind, hovering over the water. Could it be a late-season hummingbird?

I took out my camera and zoomed in.

And zoomed again even closer…

There it hung, a lure cast too close to the tree branches. It will probably hang for years on the ultra-durable monofilament fishing line. Unless of course someone like me, who doesn’t mind getting wet feet, wades out and cuts it down.

We have quite a collection of washed-up fishing lures collected from beaches we visit. The photo shows our largest find. It is about six inches long and has gigantic hooks. It hangs on our back porch year round, far out of reach and beyond the height of anyone’s head. One day I’m hoping to make it the stationary piece of a ‘found lure’ mobile or wind chime.

I wonder if the Tall Pine’s lure will still be hanging when I visit again.

This post is part of Kammie’s Oddball Challenge.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday/Harmony

An eagle atop the Harmony Fire Company, Mullica Hill, NJ. The Harmony Fire Company was established in 1704.

A few more views of the Harmony Fire Company weather vane and station. I love those bright red doors. Eagles are one of the most popular weather vane subjects I find in my area.

Many thanks to The 59 Club for taking part in last week’s Weather Vane Wednesday. Take a look at this great post:
The 59 Club – Emmet Park

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

Perspective – Restorative Power!

Saint Francis Xavier Church was founded by Father Thomas Mansell, S.J. in 1704. It is one of the earliest Catholic establishments in the English Colonies and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

History of St. Francis Xavier Shrine (Old Bohemia) Years ago, before the age of digital cameras, my husband and I drove around Cecil County, Maryland. We came upon a beautiful church unawares. I was struck by its beauty and took a snapshot with my camera. The photo above is a digital copy of the beautiful moment I captured.

The Old Bohemia Church was built in 1792. The church was established in 1704 to battle the repression of Catholicism in the English Colonies. In 1953, a group formed to renovate and restore the building. To me, the coming together of three such separate denominations is a testament of what Christianity should represent.

In 1953, the Old Bohemia Historical Society was formed by a Catholic, a Quaker and a Methodist who purchased the property’s core 120 acres with the goal to restore and maintain the historic site. Since that time, members have worked to bring the property back to its original state.

The month of October for me was a month without church. Between vacation and a dental surgery I missed every Sunday at my place of worship. This past weekend I was once again worshipping with the members in our church. When we entered we were greeted with the sight of almost every seat taken in the sanctuary. Hallelujah, what a blessed sight. We made our way to the balcony where there was still room, and I said to my husband, ‘It’s a full house today.’ When I left I felt uplifted and full of joy…I had been where I belonged on Sunday morning…in God’s house.

Yesterday I visited the blog ‘Tales From the Mama Duck.’ She perfectly put into words exactly how I felt on Sunday about the restorative power of church attendance. Here’s a quote and a link to her amazing post. ‘I Didn’t Want to Leave Church on Sunday.’

“Church is not a social gathering for me. Sure, it provides fellowship, but more intimate relationships are experienced in small groups. Church service is restorative. After six days in the world, I need a reprieve from the depravity, the images, the diseases, disappointments, and this Babylonian culture.” ~ Tales From Mama Duck

“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” ~ Psalm 23:3

Pots & Pans – Day After Thanksgiving Cookies

Last week I baked these delicious cookies. The recipe uses bits of leftover ingredients from Thanksgiving dinner. I mixed up the cookies before the big day so I used new cans of pumpkin pie mix and cranberry sauce. (See quick tip below) Because the recipe is copyright I can’t include it in the post, but I can give you the link. The recipe as written in ‘Taste of Home’ magazine can be found here: Day After Thanksgiving Cookies.

I made quite a few changes to the recipe. I prefer baking and eating smaller cookies. The changes I made allow for a shorter baking time.

My changes:
I will leave out the white baking chips next time. They don’t add much flavor, are not real chocolate, and don’t soften when baking. They are distracting when you bite into the soft cookie. I used mini-chocolate chips instead of large and was very happy with the result. I preheated the oven to 375 degrees instead of the 350, and dropped the cookie by teaspoons onto the baking sheet instead of by tablespoon. I prefer smaller-sized cookies. I baked them for twelve minutes.

My husband, son, and grandsons loved these cookies. Honestly, I think I must have eaten half a dozen when they came out of the oven…they are that good when warm.

I love cookies that are filled with ingredients that are good for you. These cookies are loaded with three good-for-you ingredients: pumpkin, oatmeal and cranberry sauce. I had one problem with the cookies: storage. The baked cookies are super-moist and stick together in one large clump if stored in a ziplock bag or on a plate. Next time I will freeze them individually on parchment paper before storing. The cookies thaw in minutes and this way they will last longer and stay intact. Because of their sticky exterior these cookies would not be good for a cookie sale or a Christmas exchange.

Quick Tip: Freeze the leftover pumpkin pie mix and cranberry sauce in 1/4 cup dollops on parchment paper. These can be stored in the freezer and thawed out when you need them.

Place – Which Way to Tall Pines?

We always assumed it was called Tall Pines because of the tall pines surrounding it. Once a golf course and restaurant, it is now a 110 acre state preserve. In some areas you can still see where the sand pits were located. The trail in the photo is part of this week’s Which Way Photo Challenge.

We saw the silhouette of a large bird in the distance and thought perhaps it was a young eagle, but on closer inspection saw it was only a big buzzard. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are eagles and hawks nesting in this area in the Springtime.

The preserve was dedicated in June of 2016. It has taken us two years to visit and ride our bikes on the trails. I’m sure it will be a favorite excursion in the future. When we crossed the creek there were so many criss-crossing trails and choices we were lost for about twenty minutes, but soon found our way back.

This aeriel view courtesy of Google Maps gives you a sense of the immense size of the preserve.

Autumn is an especially good time to visit. We enjoyed the view of this small footbridge at the edge of the pond. These photographs were taken near noon today. The only problem we encountered were the beggar ticks, a burr type of seed, that hitchhiked home on our clothing.

If you like to hike and live in, or are visiting, Southern New Jersey, take advantage of this beautiful park

Pheathers – Russets

Autumn walks are glorious. I enjoy looking up and finding sunlit leaves to photograph.

Yesterday, I noticed an especially tall tree with brilliant color in the distance. In a patch of barren branches glowed one shining leaf. When I zoomed in with my camera lens, I found my single leaf was a robin basking in the sun, his feathers perfectly matching the russet of the leaves. Robins, like geese, don’t seem to fly south anymore, but winter over in many northern areas.

Journey North has an excellent article on why robins winter-over in the north. One reason I might see so many in my area is the abundance of natural food source trees and bushes in our area.

Here’s a few of the Autumn trees in my area of New Jersey this week. I can’t wait until the leaves lay ankle-deep on the sidewalks like a gigantic potpourri of color. What fun it is to kick through the piles, enjoying the inimitable fragrance and crunch of the dry leaves beneath my feet. This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Place – Mullica Hill in Doors

A photo of a purple door seemed a perfect starting point for  Norm’s Thursday Doors. I found this door and several other compelling additions to the post in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, a town near me known for antiques.

I loved the idea this shop used for their open and closed sign. I was disappointed they were closed and I couldn’t look inside, the porch…

…and the yard…

… were full of great ideas and interesting treasures.

Across the way I found a house with a beautifully wreathed door.

A sign named it the Ellis Shivers House established in 1771.

Displayed near one of the antique shops was this acrylic pour pumpkin. I would have never thought of creating the look over a pumpkin. Guess what I’ll be attempting next year? The uncontrolled painting style was the perfect choice for today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt/Loose.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday/Alcyon Lake Park

In Pitman, NJ, the town next door to mine, you will find Alcyon Lake Park. The stock car weather vane pays homage to the days when racing took place on the grounds.

“Alcyon Speedway
Alcyon Speedway was a 1/2 mile D shaped oval located on the west side of Pitman, New Jersey.
Historical Note:
The original track on the site was a 1/3 mile bicycle track which opened in 1895. It was expanded to 1/2 mile for horse racing around 1909-1910. Auto racing occured here in 1909, from 1919 to 1925, and from 1935 through 1942. After WWII, the track operated from May 30th 1946 through July 1960.”
~ North American Motorsports

The park is a terrific place to walk as it has a little bit of everything: woods, wildflower fields, and a beautiful lake on one side.

Many thanks to these bloggers for taking part in last week’s Weather Vane Wednesday. Take a look at their great posts.
Exploring Colour – High Weather Vanes
The 59 Club – Distance and Winds

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

Place – The Blue Castle & Castles in the Air

“Experience the thrill of living in a Castle built 50ft. above an old pirates cave, overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.” ~ Blue Cave Castle


The Blue Cave Castle photographed from the Samara Resort in Negril Jamaica. This modern-day castle is my entry in City Sonnet’s Photo a Day Challenge for October 30th/Castle.

For some reason the challenge and my resultant photo made me think of the phrase: “Building Castles in the Air.”

“Building Castles in the Air”—Extravagant hopes and plans that will never be carried out. ~ Dictionary.Com

I must admit I have built plenty of ‘castles in the air’ in my lifetime. Instead of chiding myself over too many dreams, when I have a good idea that has potential to bear fruit I’m going to follow the advice of Henry David Thoreau

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” ~ Thoreau

I also very much like these wise words from Richard Whately

“To know your ruling passion, examine your castles in the air.” ~ Whately

What castles are you building in your daydreams? Perhaps our castles in the air might lead to some spectacular new adventures. I’m ready to build some foundations under my dreams and see what comes. Onward!