Dec 25 2012

On Saturday, December 22, 2012, Virginia, BlogHer’s HomeRearedChef, wrote a great post titled, “Might Your Neighbor Have Too Many Christmas Lights?” When I read it, an image of our neighbor down the street immediately popped into my head.

Fighting to Comment down the page in Virginia’s post, as over sixty other BlogHers added their thoughts, I mentioned my neighbor. I alluded to how he has the most lights I’ve ever seen on a private residence. Well, from that moment on, Virginia was like a little kid wanted to see the lights. Pouting and whining until she got her way, I decided I had to satisfy her girlish whims.

What else could I do? I could see the news of an expected new baby in the family and having THREE posts up on the right hand side at once (is that a record?) was not going to be enough Christmas for Virginia. So, on Sunday night, I had to have my husband drive me to the house, I took photos and tonight, I loaded them up on the Internet and…here they are!

A still photo wasn’t enough to set the scene.

 

The lights from the other side of the street? Still not enough.

 

Out of the car on the same side of the street. Ah-h-h-! That’s it!

So, Merry Christmas, Virginia! These lights are for you!

See what you think! Is this a great number of lights? Or, do you have more nearby where you live?

BlogHer '13



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Jun 01 2012

Just when you think you’re getting your life in order, along come ZOMBIES!

I have to admit I didn’t take BlogHer’s AlienBody’s warnings about Zomboid Creatures seriously. What a clever women, I thought, making up stick figures to amaze and delight us. Zombies! Ha-Ha! What a laugh. Why. I often remarked to anyone who would listen, “That Melissa sure has a sense of humor.”

Sense of humor! Time for a great BIG reality check. No humor here. AlienBody’s warnings of Zombies were right on and I wish I had listened.

Zombies at the Beach, ruining our Memorial Day weekend.

It all started out rather nicely, because we look forward to three days at Ocean City, the Atlantic Coast beach of the State of Maryland. A short drive from Washington, D.C., we have been going to Ocean City since I was a child in the 1950s.

Thinking of the sacrifice of those who have have served.

The best way to explain Ocean City, MD? Well, years ago, two D.C. radio jocks, Don and Mike, WJFK 106.7FM, were talking about taking their kids to Ocean City. They agreed that no matter where they vacationed, the kids were miserable because they weren’t in Ocean City. They commented that one year, they took both families to the French Rivera and everyone was disappointed, with the kids crying because they weren’t in Ocean City. So, they agreed, year after year, there was no point to going anywhere else.

But, that was before Zombies took over.

Ocean City, Maryland.
The view hasn’t change much in fifty years.

Ocean City became a popular resort after a big hurricane blew through in 1933. The fury of the storms cut out a strip of land to form an inlet to a bay, creating a great harbor for boats. The beautiful white sandy beaches are graciously extended out from the three mile long Boardwalk that goes for about forty blocks. USA Today named it one of the nation’s “Top 10 Great Boardwalks.”  But, USA Today, didn’t know about the Zombies.

Riding the “Lazy Train” down the Boardwalk,
not knowing of our coming doom.

And so, one evening, after a full day in the sun and fun of the beach, we rode down the Boardwalk on the Lazy Train to enjoy the amusement park at the beginning of the Boardwalk, near the Inlet. We had no idea that the Sportland arcade, where we’ve spent so many happy hours enjoying each othes’ company had a Zombie infestation, but there it was. Called Craven’s Crypt, this large room size diorama had robotic Zombies that pretended to be a shooting gallery while plotting for their eventual take-over of Ocean City. The message was not lost on me.

We lived to tell the story and share our video.

The family had gone down the Boardwalk on Friday night to see the sites while I worked at the room to catch up on things. So, all I heard the next day on the beach was, “You HAVE to go see the Zombie game. You HAVE to go see the Zombie game.” That destination, about ten blocks away, became the highlight of the trip that evening. And, I have to admit, it was spectacular with lights, music and clever actions from the Zombies, said to be animatronics.

Craven’s Crypt at an animatronics sales conference.

If you like animatronics, this video from a sales conference will reveal a bit of the industry. Here, Craven’s Crypt is featured at the end. As you watch this professional video, you’ll notice the enclosed shooting area has blasts of air that hit your head, back and legs. These blasts really unnerve shooters that aren’t expecting them. For this reason, watching the players shooting the Zombies was almost as good as playing the game itself.

So, the next time you run into Zombies, remember they probably aren’t real.  Or are they?

   

NaBloPoMo June 2012



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Mar 27 2012

Every now and then, little Sunbonnets get the most AMAZING e-mails.

On Wednesday, March 21, I was invited by BlogHer to meet with other BlogHers on Friday, March 23, in the Big Apple.

I have been encouraging BlogHers to get together in real life to enrich our virtual friendships, solidify our communications and bolster mutual support, but I didn’t expect to have to put my money where my mouth was so soon. They called my bluff. They asked was I into it? Or not? I decided I was in. The journey began.

Considering all of the fantastic women involved in BlogHer, though, how could I go wrong? I expected there would be no end to the wonderment and delight. Anyway, when I was invited to go by BlogHer High Command, how could I refuse? I was needed. I was on a mission.

Friday, March 23, was also my 20th wedding anniversary, so I spent a few seconds thinking about whether or not I should go, then it was “Hi-Ho-BlogHer-O, we’ll celebrate when I get back, honey! SEE ya!” as I ran to pack the suitcase.

New York, New York, crossroads of the world.

BlogHer had set the meeting for Friday morning in the Cheslsea district of New York City. Being centrally located for those of us in the mid-Atlantic region of the east coast, it was not a far stretch. And besides, I counted it as a “dry run” for getting up to BlogHer ’12 this summer. One thing to try out for sure was transportation. Before, when I’ve gone to NYC, I’ve flown the commuter flights, but with those TSA checks, I decided to try AmTrak and off I went on the Metro subway to Union Station in Washington, D.C. to catch the AmTrak Acela.

In only two hours and forty five minutes, I was in New York City at Penn Station, standing in the line waiting for a taxi to my hotel. The trip was so effortless, it was hard to believe I was there. With the AmTrak train charging up the east coast at 150 miles/hour, the time and four states just flew by.

Digital Still Life: Arrival at Four Points Sheraton in Chelsea.

When making reservations, it’s sure hard to know what you’re getting into. Even with the Internet and an army of Travelocity Gnomes, one never knows until one arrives just how the accommodations will suit. Well, if I had gathered a committee to pick a great Sunbonnet-friendly site, I couldn’t have done better.

There I was in the garment district, a fair slice of Heaven for a quilter. Shops of fabric, dress manikins and yes, there was even a quilt store and gallery across from the hotel. I was early enough to go shopping and it took a New York minute to select going to the quilt store as a first choice. But, first, I had to walk down the block and get a photo of St. Patrick’s Day balloons bravely flopping in the wind, tangled in a tree, on the Avenue of the Americas. It was SO NEW YORK, I couldn’t resist.

St. Patrick’s Day Balloons at 6th Avenue,
now officially called Avenue of the Americas.

Green foil shamrock balloons, probably left over from the Parade down 5th Avenue on March 17 were tangled in the trees giving testimony to NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The New York City Parade is the oldest in the world, having started in 1762, and, as you can tell from their web site, it’s a really BIG deal.

Empty fabric boards in front of The City Quilter
quilt store tell of a prosperous fabric store.

Walking down the other side of the street from the hotel, I stalked my quarry, The City Quilter quilt store and The ArtQuilt Gallery NYC. What a bounty I found inside and what luck they were open until 7:00pm. In fact, I was so impressed by the floor plan, selection of fabrics, shop models and accessories, I have decided to do separate posts on the both shop and gallery.

I have to. It’s the only way to show off all the quilting paraphernalia I was able to enjoy last Thursday evening. Remember, I was a quilt shop business owner myself from 1982-1991, nine years, so I’ve been to a few quilt shops in my career. It is noteworthy, therefore, that I was very impressed by The City Quilter.

On the left, Penn Station and Madison Square Gardens
from the 11th floor of our BlogHer get together.

So, on Friday morning, it was almost time to meet everybody, the three BlogHers who agreed to get together, and I couldn’t have been more excited. After a short workout in the hotel gym, mentioning that for the diet conscious BlogHers with whom I usually comment back and forth as they will be proud of me, I packed my things and got ready to hail a cab to our meeting place.

My heart was beating a mile a minute as I “bag ladied” my stuff to 7th Avenue, hoping people didn’t think I was homeless. I was wondering the whole way as to why my “packing eyes” are always bigger than my “suitcase’s stomach.” The tote bag I bungee corded to the top of my tag along suitcase kept sliding to the side, looking anything but sophisticated. It was Sexless in the City, for sure. I was hoping that none of the BlogHers were watching.

But! I didn’t care. My “wardrobe rig” got me where I wanted to go and I was going to meet other Bloghers, what could be better? And meet other Bloghers I did.

It was so much fun and we had such a good time, that I’m going to have to continue this post to tell you who they were, next time….

NaBloPoMo March 2012



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Sep 24 2010

With all that Virginia has to offer, we always go to Dinosaur Land.

When you live in the suburban Washington, D.C. area, basically meaning Maryland and Virginia, and you start to look for dentists that have a mercury free practice, as you surely will someday if you have mercury fillings in your mouth, you’ll end up in Ft. Royal, Virginia at the Dental office of Dr. Craig A. Zunka, but that’s another story. At the same time, if you were driving to Front Royal in 2002 with children in the car, you’d end up at Dinosaur Land and eating ice cream at the Royal Dairy, and that’s this story.

When I go on “Back Road Auto Trips,” which are my favorite, I am always trying to subconsciously recreate the outings of my childhood in the 1950s before the Interstate highway system. I long for the trips with my grandmother and her friends who all had pocketbooks with colorful handkerchiefs and rolls of peppermint Life Savers and who doted on me as I tried not to roll around in the car’s big back seat before the days of seat belts. One way or another, no matter where we were headed, we’d be sure to stop for an ice cream cone so, every trip I go on to this day, I am always in search of old fashioned soda fountains with Formica counters and polished chrome.

The beauty of a 1950s road side restaurant menu.

Imagine my delight when a trip to the dentist, not usually something to which one looks forward, became my favorite place to go and that was the day we discovered that Front Royal, Virginia was home to the Royal Dairy. It was the kind of place you’d “just happen to stop by” when you were out for a ride with your grandparents. You know, the kind of place with the big menu encased in thick plastic with brown leather binding that had the center open inside for the changing of the “Daily Specials.” The burger and fries kind of place where the hamburgers were free formed by hand and the lettuce and tomato slice garnish sat next to a pickle spear.

Well, those of you born before McDonald’s will know what I mean and appreciate the trips to old ice cream parlors and malt shops such as the Royal Dairy.

The Royal Dairy could dish up ice cream in any flavor with any topping.

Alas! A deep sadness came over me when I looked up the Royal Dairy to get their link and encourage you to go. After sixty years in business, the Royal Dairy closed in 2006. No more malteds for the kids at Randolph Macon and no more ice cream for us when we travel to Front Royal. I suppose that’s progress and the customers of the new Korean Sushi restaurant are happy to have such an option, but somehow, it’s just not the same.  Do you have a traditional ice cream shop where you live that I could put in my sights? I’d love to know where it is! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

As you can see, I love to travel back in time and remember things as they were.  If you really want to time travel, as far back as the age of the dinosaurs, then our next stop, Dinosaur Land, is for you. What a great place for the little ones who love dinosaurs and will get excited about great, big dinosaur recreations located on a pleasant walk through a Virginia woods. Of course, you have to love tourist attractions and I do because they are another part of my longed-for past. I’m big on the culture of roadside America, that special time when cars became more dependable and families headed off to sight see in their station wagon.

Dinosaur Land is a big hit with kids discovering their “inner dino.”

If you want a pretty ride through the Virginia countryside with a great destination at the end, try Dinosaur Land out for size. Everyone is friendly and the gift shop has much of interest, including a section for Civil War buffs. If this seems like fun to you, here is a link for more information.

And here is a map of our part of the country in case you need to get your bearings:

The red star is Dinosaur Land, just outside of Front Royal, VA.

When we travel to Virginia, we use a guidebook that lists attractions that are “off the beaten path.” You’ll find Dinosaur Land on page 155, if this type of visit appeals to you. Here’s “our” book:

If this book seems like it would fit your interests, it can be previewed by hovering your mouse over this link:

Virginia Off the Beaten Path, 10th: A Guide to Unique Places (Off the Beaten Path Series)



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