Friday, May 31, 2013


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I needed an art fix. The Allentown Art Museum has a wonderful collection of American Art that you can photograph without flash. Perfect. There were some surprises here, because many pieces resemble old European masters. Like this portrait and the ornate frame.
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There are many portraits with ornate frames, but I dwell today on pieces that tell a story, like this look like European village scene. It is a set-up of course, but the artist added the characters that might have had a meeting there. And, I love the details.
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The local curs attend these gatherings, spoiling for a fight.
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And, in a similar vein, the spoils of the hunt and harvest on display with the dogs growling and challenging each other for morsels.
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And what are they snarling over?  Not meat, with a pig’s head hanging right next to them, but a piece of pumpkin.
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And the little pups are already learning the language of snarl and growl to defend their food.
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Scenery, for the sake of scenery has to be very special for me to enjoy it. I really liked this snow scene because it brings back pleasant memories of snow from my native Michigan without having to live there and endure the endless cold. The memories of that cold, crisp, clean air with the quiet that snow brings to the woods. Lovely.
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The museum had a variety or artifacts, with some clothing…
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…and textiles.
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A beaded purse. These artifacts are high quality, though artful, are still kept to a minimum. You can see those same things in many museums,
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The wonderful paintings star, here. This flag touching the ground set up and uproar when this painting was first displayed, and almost got the artist banned.
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A zoo lion enjoying a feast is about the closest an American would get to a lion. Those old boy was named Bartholomew and died before the painting was finished. But, isn’t he magnificent?
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It covers the ages, from this Pilgrims, a dinner prayer..
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…with that detail, of the cat on the steps…
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…the years when kids had to work. This shoeshine boy is juggling a shoe brush on his chin to attract customers.
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A street urchin with a Jughead hat, praying for a good roll of the dice.
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And more modern scenes, of girls visiting on the steps. One with a news paper delivery bag. Perfect detail.
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Still life can be informative. Where would we find such a small cabbage with a long stem? We don’t grow our own food for the most part. We take for granted what we have.
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A painting of a bad accident is such an unlikely subject, truly American.  Today is a travel day, but let it be said that this museum has so much of value. I really enjoyed it. And the museum is so well lit that you hardly ever find glare on your photos. I’ll post more of them down the line.
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We went to Fegley’s Brewworks and I have suffered for want of a decent beer these many weeks. Here was a porter so rich and good, it was as good as Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery, my favorite beer. The Waitress took us to their garden setting where giant posters of their special beers line the walls. Insidious Imperial Stout, Always Sunny Pale Ale, Hop Solutely India Pale Ale, won beer of the year. Rude Elf’s Reserve a Belgian style ale. So many choices. It was so good, and the weather so hot, I drank TWO pints of porter. Wow! What a lovely day.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


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Into all lives some rain must fall. Or, more accurately, we hadda problem. Spent all morning, and then lunchtime, and then... Suffice it to say we spent most of the day hanging out at Five Star International in Allentown because an engine warning  light blinked on signaling an engine problem. It was a problem we were glad to have taken care of and fixed by a very competent mechanic, and nice people at Five Star. Not terribly serious, but good maintenance pays off. You can see they do buses and trucks and that is what we are in a sense, a truck.
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We had enough time to visit the Liberty Bell Museum of Allentown, housed in Zions United Church of Christ. I visited the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia sometime in the 1970's and had no idea this church hid the Liberty Bell, and a slew of other bells, from British Occupation. A conquering army is want to melt down bells and turn them into cannon; victor and spoils.
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The original church was built in 1702 and replaced with the second church, Zion's Reformed Church, which hid the bells from 1777 to 1778. That church was again replaced by the current stone church DSC06682 (Copy)
And, of course, the wonderful story is displayed here. In 1961, a man named Morgan thought the hiding of the Liberty Bell should be recognized and suggested the Church as a shrine. He knew, that 51 replica Liberty Bells were made, one for each state, and one for President Truman's Library. Why not place an exact replica in the basement of the church and honor their history? Exact replica meaning, 2080 pounds, clapper 44 pounds, yoke from which it hangs, 200 pounds, but without the crack.
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When all was done and arranged, they actually had to tear into the church to get it into the building, removing slate and rock, then patching it up.
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It came on a train car and thousands of people stood in the rain to see it come. One hundred thousand people visited the new museum the first year it was open.
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Last year, a fiberglass replica, re-enacted the bell coming to town honoring 50 years on display. But the real story of the bell I had never heard.
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There you have it. And, again, the bell was invoked with liberty by Martin Luther King in  a famous speech a year after the bell was dedicated in Zion Church.
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You can click on this photo to make it larger.
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The docent encourages visitors to ring the bell. I used a rubber mallet, Jim pulled the 44 pound clapper with a special tool.
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The bell is a powerful image of our nation's freedom. Henry Ford stood beside the real Liberty Bell before it was enclosed in a glass case. People from all over the world  liked to have their picture taken with it and touch it.
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The story of how the bells got to the church, in wagons, 180 of them, with the bells hidden under manure and straw,  is shown in a mural in the huge basement.
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The liberty bell was the heaviest, and the wagon broke a wheel and it had to be transferred to another wagon before they reached the church. All of this was done in secret lest the enemy learn the bells hiding place. Not even the local citizens knew the bells were hidden. I'm now curious about all of those replica's. Where are they?
The museum makes a nice visit when you are in Allentown. It's free.  It holds a lot of documents or replicas of famous documents, and one real artifact, a piece of the wagon that carried the bell was kept and donated to the museum.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


From my computer I got this story of a man ahead of his time.
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Freddy Heineken, like Henry J Kaiser, was  ahead of his time. (Remember the Henry J?) Heineken decided to make a bottle for his beer that could be recycled into a brick. Notice the neck fits into a dimple in the bottom of the bottle, a perfect fit like a brick.
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There were buildings made with Heineken beer bottles, but not the wave that Freddy envisioned.
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Freddy thought a square bottle would be more desirable and easier to build with.
He also designed a cube, to help the building process by smoothing corners and giving some variance to length. But, in the end, people just didn't like square bottles. A round bottle fits the hand better. And, that is the end of the story. Don't I wish I had a couple of those bottles for my decorative bottle fence?
Henry J's failed to attract buyers and were sold off quickly. My father bought a second-hand one and we were teased by neighbor kids about our weird car, most likely imitating their parents talk at the dinner table.
Recycling has reached new heights and if Freddy is still around, I hope he knows he was a man ahead of his time.
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I received an email about creative recycling and I could really put this to work in my yard.
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I wouldn't mind an herb garden reachable from my kitchen window.
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I've used plastic bottles for a number of projects, but these are better ideas than mine.
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This is a great way to use an old shoe,  but I would worry about a predator bird getting to these vulnerable babies where I live.
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I'd prefer to use old shoes for plants. I have several candidates in my garage.
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With a long, squirrel proof wire, this would work very well, if hung far enough from the ground with no access from a table or other device.  I got my first crop of crab grass from the scattered seed on the ground. Now you can buy bird seed without noxious weed seed.

After yesterdays pouring rain and chill, we are expecting 86 degree weather today. We are in Allentown, PA. where Jim once lived many years ago. We'll go to a huge fine arts  museum so I can get my art fix.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


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Camp Hostess, Pam, arranged for a Memorial Day Service at the entrance gate. The VFW came earlier than planned, gave their 21 gun salute and left before any one had a chance to gather. She explained there had been a snafu about timing. She read a script about honoring those who served and invited any veterans to speak to the crowd.
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This woman, a veteran herself, has two sons in the  military.
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This veteran spoke and saluted.
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This woman spent 20 years in the military.
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Jim got up and surprised himself; he got choked up and could hardly speak.
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Following the pledge of allegiance and a song, My Country T’is Of Thee, the parade of decorated golf carts made their way to the Family Center.
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Then the walkers followed the golf carts.
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This family joined the walkers.

I’m so anti-war.  Most of the invasions we’ve made on behalf of our government are in support of some corporate economic issue rather than defense of our country. The money spent on war could be put to such better use. But, make no mistake, being anti-war does not mean I don’t support our troops. I believe we should reinstate the draft and let all socioeconomic groups be responsible for military service and readiness.
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Bottom line, for me, Memorial Day is remembering our troops, those who served and those who fell.  It is not un-American to disapprove of war.