Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summertime, and the livin' is easy…er… HECTIC!

Our regional flash flooding in June.
Since my last Broads of a Feather blog post, my oldest got a job working in the library of her future college, my friend, Terri, got married, we’ve attended two grad parties, and many other day to day activities have kept us on the go. Just the other night, my friend, Sue, and I commented that we’re halfway through summer already. It seems impossible. As I mentioned in my last post, it hasn’t been very summery in Northeastern PA. Today, for example, the temperature is 69° with extremely low humidity and the sun hasn’t decided whether it wants to come out yet or not. It feels like a spring day in late May versus July 22nd. We’re normally feeling the effects of the triple H’s by now—Hazy, Hot, and Humid and suffering from a slight drought. This summer has been extremely wet. The last report I saw from NOAA had us at “Much Above Average Rainfall.” In fact, areas just north of us in New York have had numerous devastating downpours causing flash flooding of roadways, businesses, and homes.

The gorgeous Elmira College campus with the Gannett-
Tripp Library in the upper right. (Photo courtesy of
Elmira College's Facebook page.)
The last three weeks have made us adjust our regular summertime weekday activities since Sydney started working on campus—but it is all good. She needed this experience since she is our shy one. The folks in the library have welcomed her with open arms. She’s meeting fellow students as well as Elmira College administration and faculty. When I pick her up every day, I get to hear all about her workday; what projects they are working on and who she met. Their big projects involve inventorying the library and also dramatically reducing their periodicals. It pleases me to no end that she is working in the library. I was a total library geek during my school years—even belonging to library club throughout middle school. I loved working the circulation desk, putting covers on books, and shelving!!! Of course, a lot of changes have happened since then. Does anyone remember what a vertical file is? I don’t even know if they exist anymore since the internet has taken over. *sigh* At any rate, my girl is in her element and I couldn’t be happier for her. 

I finished editing all of the pictures I took for Terri and Mike’s wedding. It was a two and a half week process for me. Between Syd and me, we shot about 1,000 photos. From there, I go through and pic out the best before editing (teeth-whitening, blemish covering, and general photo fixes with color, temperature, and sharpness) and try different finishes with the edited shots. The final photo count was 507. Someday, I’ll purchase my dream camera so I don’t have to borrow one.
My favorite shot from Mike and Terri's wedding!

Sydney’s Best-Friend-Forever-Since-Kindergarten had her grad party and she also had an Elmira College color theme since that’s where she’s attending in the fall as well. I went early to help her parents set up and decorate and we recycled some of Syd’s decorations which saved time and money. Lesley was one of several graduates whose senior photos I did as a graduation present last year. She and Syd had me take some best friend photos as well and they turned out so good—if I do say so myself. Thirteen years of friendship is quite the testament. My husband and I are extremely proud of both girls for their academic accomplishments and, most importantly, for the remarkable young women they have become. Neither of them gave in to following the crowd, but chose to march to the beat of their own drums. And, as close as Syd and Les are, they are equally opposite in likes. Lesley is into heavy rock music and Syd likes Broadway show tunes. Lesley likes long-haired guys with tattoos and piercings and Syd admires well-dressed academic men—who just so happen to be AARP members. Lesley’s strengths are in math and science and Syd’s are in English and history. Ying and Yang friends. At any rate, their friendship is solid and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our prospective doctor and history teacher.
My favorite senior photo session shots of Brittany and Austin...
 I'll share some of my favorite photos from last year's senior photo sessions to the right. They have been Syd's classmates throughout their school years. A great group of kids. 
Shannon and Colton...


And my favorite shots of Lesley.

This week’s blog is short and sweet. My next blog is already in the works. Till next time, readers, be good, be happy, and be well!

(As I close out this blog, several days have passed since I started it. This past week has brought on blissful summer temperatures! Yay!!!!)    

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Just Breathe by Robin Janney

Sometimes a lot of words aren't needed.

Sometimes it's enough to say it's been rough and leave it at that.

We weather the storm and often come through it stronger.

Or if you're like Heath Ledger's Joker, you come out stranger!

Have you ever seen that one video that floats around Facebook about not jumping to conclusions but to wait until you know all the facts before you judge a situation?  I went though that this week. While a picture might be worth a thousand words...sometimes all those words are lies.  Pictures can be faked.

This pic to the left is very real however, one I took around the 4th of July at my mother's.  I was just sitting at the picnic table and playing with my phone and the camera.  I thought it was kind of pretty and thought I'd share it.

I'll have something more interesting and in depth to post when it's my turn again. Promise.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Summer That Wasn’t (But We’re Making the Most Out of It Anyway)! By C.P. Stringham

The Summer of 2015 hasn’t been very summery. It’s as if April forgot to arrive in time with its April showers. Even in May, we had several frost warnings beyond Mother’s Day. I would know because Mother’s Day weekend is our normal vegetable garden planting time and that means I was having to go out in the evening and cover our tender little plants with newspaper to prevent frost damage and then remove those paper “tents” in the morning as the temperature began to rise. We experienced a cooler, dry spring. Our farmer friends were each saying the same thing, “It’s going to be a cold, wet summer.” I don’t question these folks when they make statements like that because they know. They know better than our local meteorologists. Sydney’s riding instructor, Pat, is usually good at reading nature signs as well to predict weather trends. She grew up on a dairy farm. These past two years were a good example of her skills. While everyone was commenting about how overly full their fruit and nut-bearing trees were during harvesting, Pat warned us it was a sign of a long, harsh winter. Her words, “Mother Nature takes care of her own.” My fellow Northeastern United States folks know how our past two winters have turned out. All I need to say as a reminder is Polar Vortex.
Our damp gardens...

Here it is July 8th and, instead of having to worry about keeping our gardens watered or risk a wilted, non-productive harvest, my husband and I are considering putting up clear plastic sheeting tents, using rudimentary framing from scrap wood so the plastic doesn’t lie against the plants, and shield them from the rather damp weather conditions we are having. We are drenched in Northeastern PA!! About the only vegetable doing well from all the rain is our broccoli. The rest? Well, they’re looking a little yellow from too much water. Even my flower containers that we use around the yard within our landscaping, look yellow—the same containers I usually have to water every evening this time of year because the hot summer sun dries the soil out by the end of the day.
Montour Falls, New York...

Nevertheless, even with all the rain, we’re still managing to fill in our free time with our summer adventures—just armed with umbrellas for when the heavens open up and soak us again. Since my last blog post, I celebrated my 45th birthday. We used it as a family day and traveled up New York’s Route 414 from Corning to Watkins Glen and then headed home on Route 14 with a tour along the side streets of Montour Falls. We stopped at secondhand shops and antique stores along the way for a little window shopping. Outside of Corning, we discovered an architectural salvage/secondhand store operated through SESC Habitat for Humanity called ReStore. We were truly impressed with their prices on furniture and salvaged items. The crafter in me was going bonkers with ideas for up-cycling items for repurposing! Montour Falls used to have two great antiques shops along West Main Street, but they have since closed from our last visit three years ago. Instead, armed with my camera, I shot photos of Shequaga Falls and some of the gorgeous local architecture. One such treasure is the Cook Mansion. I fell instantly in love with the brick Victorian Italianate-style mansion that was built in 1873 by Elbert Cook. His brother, Charles, is lauded as the “Father of Schyler County.” Since I was scoping it out from a distance, my voyeuristic eye couldn’t see the telltale marks of fire damage until I used my telephoto lens. And then I was heartsick. I tend to look at art instead of the in-your-face-details of reality, you know, when it smacks me in the face—and that arrived when I took notice of the auction sign at the front of the property. The house had most recently been a highly rated bed & breakfast. The owner, Carol Hagopian, returned the house to its heyday splendor, decorating each room with a true Victorian flair, adding her souvenirs from around the world, while not going over the top. I know this information from the B&B’s website along with reading their stellar reviews. For whatever reason, Carol was unable to bring this Montour Falls gem back from the fire damage it received on November 2, 2014. I am hoping someone can step in and, like a phoenix, help raise this truly fantastic structure from the ashes so it can once again welcome visitors.
Mr. & Mrs. Herrlich looking at each other as if the rest of the world
doesn't even exist. 

The Fourth of July weekend was a whirlwind for me. On Friday, my friend Terri married her boyfriend of six years. She and Mike are glowing proof that middle-age relationships can be just as romantic as our first serious adult relationship. As wedding photographer, I got to be with her while her and the bridesmaids (her daughters) got their hair styled and they dressed for the private ceremony. After the ceremony, they held an outdoor reception for family and friends at Mike’s parents’ house. With a red, white, and blue color scheme, great food, company, and drink, fireworks that included a sparkler sendoff at dark, it was a spectacular ending to a wonderful event. Terri and Mike, I wish you a long, happy and healthy life together as Mr. & Mrs. Michael Herrlich! Thank you for allowing Syd and me to be a part of your special day.
On Saturday, to make up for the beautiful day Mother Nature gave us on Friday, she decided to add rain showers to the early part of our Independence Day. But that didn’t stop us from having our parents over for an evening cookout. I made burgers with all the fixings, mozzarella and tomato salad, smoked mac & cheese, and Oreo Grasshopper Pie. To end the evening, we sat around a bonfire roasting marshmallows and hotdogs as our neighbor set off (illegal) fireworks. We didn’t even have to leave the comfort of home to see a great aerial display!
Our family adventure in Hammondsport and Watkins Glen.

Sunday’s weather was perfect for a family drive around the Finger Lakes. We headed out with a cooler packed for a picnic lunch at a destination to be determined when the mood hit us. I printed up directions (no GPS for this girl) to Hammondsport, New York which sits at the base of Keuka Lake. We’d never been there before. The quaint little town has lots to offer for travelers in the way of boutiques, antique stores, restaurants, pubs, and bed & breakfast lodging. The hot and humid day was made comfortable by the gentle cool breeze coming off of the nearby lake as we walked along the sidewalk with fellow travelers. Due to the holiday weekend, the town was quite busy. One shop we meandered into was called The Wine Barrel. As we walked the store and looked at their unique furniture and decorations, I was struck by how ingenuous their items were—made by using white oak wine barrels—in essence, repurposing something that their region has in surplus due to the local wineries. I love up-cycling!!! The owner of the store was working on this particular day and was welcoming as she explained their product and even mentioned that they will gladly take custom orders. She was totally gracious when I asked her if I could take a picture of her store for the blog. If you want a one of a kind piece with a little winemaking history, look no further! Visit their website through this link. After leaving Hammondsport, we drove up the western shore of the lake, across the top, and then down the eastern shore before traveling the short distance to Seneca Lake. We stopped in Watkins Glen’s Lafayette Park for our informal picnic lunch of sandwiches and chips. When I finished mine, I headed out on foot and shot pictures of the nearby churches. Each of them built in the latter part of the 19th century. We ended up at one last destination, Brand Park in Elmira for their outdoor summer concert series, before heading home.
Shops in Hammondsport. 

Even with our damp, chilly summer, we are finding plenty of family daytrip adventures to keep us busy during our leisure time. I hope everyone who follows our Broads of a Feather blog is taking time for a little family adventure as well! Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!   

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July - by Robin Janney

As I sit here in my home, having finished a series I've been reading for weeks and my husband plays his GTA5 I struggle with what to write for my blog post.  I didn't take any pictures of the multiple fireworks shows my husband saw last night on our mountainside perch, I just wanted to enjoy the moments and experience them and not worry about preserving them.  When I told him I didn't feel like taking any pictures, Mr. Janney actually touched my forehead to see if I was feeling well since I am an avid picture taker!  Sometimes it is important to just exist in the moment.

I did grab this picture of the huge flag the town of Towanda had flying for it's First Friday/4th of July celebrations.  I usually try to avoid driving through this town in the late afternoon of the first Friday of the month as it is usually very busy...especially half an hour before their parade was to begin.  My husband has no issues with it, obviously, and I'm glad he did.

And that's all I really have to say today.  I'm done with my reading for the moment, and will soon move onto another activity...writing or cooking.  I'm feeling content today, and just want to enjoy it. 

I encourage all of you to enjoy today, whether it is a holiday for you or not. :)