Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blogging Break

Hi all... I have to take a break from blogging for a week or so. My eyes are giving me trouble and I can't see well right now. The eye doctor said my "corneas are inflammed" and that I need to give my eyes a rest from contacts, and it's really making me blind as a bat.

So I'm going to try really hard to stay off the computer completely for the next week or so. But don't forget about me! Come back in about two weeks, I should be back to normal... and maybe by then something interesting will have happened, so the blog won't be so boring!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Hiking Photos

I don't really have anything interesting to write about, and Pink Dogwood said to post more, so... you don't have to ask me twice!
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Nick took this one

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Another one

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

A beautiful Weekend for Hiking!


We had a lovely weekend. We hiked all day Saturday, and I took huge numbers of pictures.

I decided to post an entry, so I posted a photo and wrote a little bit about the weekend. But then, I was looking at all my photos... I like every photo more than the next. I actually filled a 258 mb SD card! So I'm posting a bunch more of them...
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Dinner on the Trail

One of Nick's favorite foods is Ramen noodles. So we brought our backpacking stove and Ramen noodles, and had dinner on the trail.

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We made it...

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Sunfish Pond Hike


Frank, Nick and I spent Saturday hiking to Sunfish Pond. I would say we hiked part of the Appalachian Trail to get there, but in fact, it is such a small part of the trail it barely counts. We drove from the Delaware River Gap up this little tiny road on the Jersey Side of the Delaware, next to Worthington State Park, and hiked from there. The trail was something like the "Garvey Spring Trail," which led to a small section of the AT, which led to Sunfish pond.

It was a pretty good stretch of the legs -- Frank said it was 5 miles round trip according to his trail map. (It was like a 30 degree angle, though!) Going up hill, my heart was pounding like crazy. Going down hill, my legs were aching and shaking. We made it, though!

We didn't see any bears. We did see many toads. And several people.

Frank and I were talking about "bucket lists" the other day. We had seen that movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, where both men are dying, and one happens to be rich. They make up lists of things they want to do before they kick the bucket.

The problem with a bucket list is, how realistic does it have to be? Because I would love to do some things, but they just aren't feasible. Like hiking the Appalachian Trail, from end to end. Or even to hike the whole trail in sections. That is one of the things that I would love to be able to say I accomplished. But in real life, that is not something I will ever attempt. Physically, I couldn't make it. Mentally, I would be scared to death. Even just from a perspective of time... I will never again have four months off with no job or responsibility that I could just take time from. But I have a lingering wish to say I accomplished something that dramatic.

On the other hand, getting to Sunfish Pond was also on my bucket list. It was definitely feasible, just not as grand. I had always wanted to get there. I almost didn't think I ever would.

New Years resolutions are all about things that I want to accomplish or improve on in the coming year. My bucket list should be all about things that I want to accomplish in the rest of my life. Maybe it should be called "mid life resolutions."

So anyway, I was pretty happy about getting there. My next goal? To figure out how to download all my video clips from this hike into a video. Wish me luck!
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Very Wordy Wednesday

I stole this tag from Wandering Mind (Pink Dogwood), who probably won't mind because she borrowed it from someone else.

Here are the details:

) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you really love (and strikethrough the ones you hate!).(
4) Reprint this list in your own blog.

(Of course, I intend to read any book I can get my hands on, so I didn't do number 2. Also, I don't know how to underline without retyping, and I don't know how to strikethrough at all - and so I'm not doing that - so you won't know which ones I loved and which ones I hated. Plus, some of these I read ages ago and I don't even really remember them, so I may need to read them again. But anyway, you get the idea.)

Feel free to steal this tag from me!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible -parts of it7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (most of them)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (tried, didn't like it)
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

What about
Atlas Shrugged
The Alchemist
Bird by Bird
The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All
...And Ladies of the Club
Saving Fish from Drowning
The Kitchen God's Wife

and a bunch more... that I loved!

Monday, September 15, 2008


You might remember that Frankie was given a "Wish" from the Make-A-Wish Organization.

This happened after his Crohns Disease caused his intestines to kink, which caused Peritonitis, which was nearly fatal. It's similar to a ruptured appendix. It took him months and months to get over this. The Crohns Disease itself is a chronic illness, which he deals with, and has dealt with, since he was in 5th grade.

After his months in the hospital, he was nominated for a wish. We all had a lot of ideas, but he got to decide. And he decided he wanted to go on a specific roller coaster, the extreme coaster. Which happened to be in California.

So it was lovely for all of us. He went on more than just that one rollercoaster; he went on coasters in Disney, and at Knotts Berry Farm, as well as Six Flags California.

Recently, a short article about Frankie was written in the Make a Wish Newsletter if you want to read it...

Before Frankie found out about his wish, he was very down about a lot of things. He felt like he had the worst luck in the world. He went through so much, I can't even explain it all to you in a blog post.

Two things happened that changed his mind about that. One thing -- Eddie Vedder called him. And the second thing, even bigger -- was the Make a Wish trip. He stopped thinking of his luck as "bad", and started thinking of his luck as "Extreme." Like the roller coaster, the X coaster, was extreme. He has extremely bad luck, but he also has extremely good luck. It made him feel a lot better about himself and what he went through.

Well, in October there will be a walkathon for Make A Wish at the Liberty State Park, and we've decided to walk, kinda as a "thank you" for what the Make A Wish Organization does for children who go through so much trauma. I just thought I'd mention it. If you decide you want to donate to a good cause, I hope you'll consider donating to Make A Wish. My walkathon page can be reached from this link.

Thank you for considering this. If you can donate, that would be great. If you can't, I completely understand; everyone has their own charities that they support. But I figured, what's the harm in asking?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

5, 7, 5

I am in the mood
For poetry... well, Haiku
Profound, but simple.

The humidity
sticky hot and heavy air
gives me a headache.

Spam haiku is cool.
Not the internet spam, but
Spam, the luncheon meat.

Spam Haiku? Click here.
You can read all about it.
Here are some samples.

Ears, snouts and innards,
A homogeneous mass--
Pass another slice.

--Christopher James Hume

Pink tender morsel,
Glistening with salty gel.
What the hell is it?

--Christopher James Hume

Cube of cold pinkness
Yellow specks of porcine fat
Give me a spork, please

--Christopher James Hume

Old man seeks doctor:
"I eat SPAM daily," he decries

--Christopher James Hume

It is time for bed.
I hate to go to sleep but
tomorrow comes quick.

Write me a Haiku.
Syllable counts are the key.
Remember? From school?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

College Prep

Frankie is a senior in high school this year.
He's taken the SAT's a few times, and he did pretty well.
Ever since the first SAT test, or maybe even before that, he's been getting boat loads of brochures from colleges. They all want him to attend. But they don't give huge amounts of information. Some are better than others. None of them can really show much about the college.

This is not ALL of the mail he's received. This is only a few week sample. It's been averaging like three letters a day for a good year now. Emails too. But at least they aren't killing the trees.

This pile all just went in the recycling bin.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm planning to go to Pittsburgh for the weekend!

I was so excited when Frank suggested that I go to Pittsburgh to visit Jan this weekend! He had a business trip scheduled, so he flew out this morning. The plan was for me to fly out after work, and then Jan will pick me up, I'll stay at her house, and we'll pick Frank up in the morning. It's only a short trip, for one night. The return ticket is for Saturday evening. This is the first business trip Frank has asked me to go on in the 25 years he's worked for his company.

I miss Jan, she's a BFF for a long long time... as long as Beth and I. (Beth and Jan were BFF's before I was around.) And I haven't seen her new house since she moved out there, which has been a few years already. So I was excited to make the trip.

On the other hand, I was also nervous about it. I haven't flown by myself since I was a kid. In fact, I hadn't flown much at all in the years following Sept. 11. It seemed rather scary. But here it is, September 12 2008, and I guess it's time to try.

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So here I am, on the train. I'm going to take the train to the monorail to the plane. But first, I will have to overcome a series of challenges.

My first challenge.


Could I figure out the complicated instructions on the ticket machine? I worried about that a bit. Turns out it was no problem. It costs $10.25 to take the train from Metropark to Newark Airport.
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Rail Station

OK, this was actually my second challenge, and almost a big problem.
I was bored and a bit nervous on the train and I was texting the boys. The conductor said, "Next station is the Airport." So I knew I was supposed to get off. But I am so used to having Frank make the decision about when to get up, and where to stand,... and I was texting... and I was waiting for the doors to just open, and they didn't -- (Ok, the doors don't just open. You have to actually open them.)I almost forgot to get off the train at my station.
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Take the Train to the Monorail

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The Monorail

  The monorail was jammed full of people. The track makes a U shape around the airport. The train is closest to the terminal I needed to get to.
There was a lot to see out the monorail window. For one thing, there was a lot of greenery; it was a very wild place full of weeds and trees and shrubberies. I even saw an egret or heron. (Someday I'll figure out the difference between those two birds. It was the white one with the long neck.) I didn't get a picture of it. I also saw several monorail trains that seemed stopped on the track.
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Airport Security

  I made it thru the check points with no problem. I hate that feeling, though, of rushing to take off my shoes, get everything in the bucket, and then not having my hand on my pocketbook and my stuff as it goes through the machine... it went smoothly, but it's no fun. On the other hand, I understand the reason for it. I just hope that they can catch everything that they need to catch.
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I got to my gate WAY EARLY.

My timing was working out perfectly. I strolled in with hours to go before my flight. I wanted to be all settled so I could take my dramamine, which makes me very groggy, and just get on the plane with no confusion.

Walking through the terminal, first I found a book shop and I bought three magazines to keep me occupied. Then I wandered through a few food places, trying to decide what appealed to me for dinner. Nothing did. But dessert sounded good, so I bought a piece of cheesecake. I figured... cheesecake has protein, doesn't it?


So I walked back to my gate, cheesecake in hand. I was prepared to sit a long time and wait. I had everything I needed. I had successfully completed all of my challenges, and I wasn't worried about anything else. The rest was a piece of cake. Jan would get me at the gate at Pittsburgh. I didn't even have to wait for luggage.
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Flight Cancelled.

I had only taken about three bites of my cheesecake when I heard the announcement. My flight to Pittsburgh was cancelled. They said it was bad weather.

I called Jan and tried to call Frank. I could have gotten on the 8:00 flight. But who knows if that one will be delayed too? I talked to Jan about it and we agreed that I should use my ticket to fly to her house on another weekend, when I have more time. Who's to say if the weather will delay the next plane too?

So... yeah... I never made it to Pittsburgh.

Is that sad, or what?

I hope Frank understands. He's in Pittsburgh all day tomorrow without me. I hope he can get an earlier flight...
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

In remembrance...
This photo is courtesy of Glitter Graphics.
It seems like a long time ago and it seems like yesterday.
I didn't know anyone who was lost, but I was still profoundly affected.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Blogging Conversation about Blogging

I'm still thinking about the same thing I was thinking about yesterday. Why am I blogging? What do I get out of it?
In response to my post from yesterday, I got these comments. I decided that they are the answer to my question.

Seraphine said...
there is NO way i'm going to read 65 million blogs!
i think i have it narrowed down though
to 30 hours a day.

Netizen101 said...
A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. - Leo Rosten

You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sue, do these help? :-)

I wonder why I blog too. And I am none the wiser. Perhaps, it's a hobby, an interest, or perhaps it's the trend these days to have a blog - even if no one reads it.:-)

Beth said...
I blog and go on the internet to give me a sense of connection to a world that I sometimes feel very disconnected from......

I surf blogs for hours. I hop from one to another. 65 million is a silly number. I read lots. That's more exact. There are a lot of nice people out there in a huge, world-wide, multicultural community. How cool is that?

I read on a blog called Granny Smith that "Blogging Friends are not Virtual. They are Real." I like that idea. Like you, Sera... If I saw you in a mall, I wouldn't know you if I fell over you. But even though I've only ever seen you virtually, I feel like we are friends.

Netizen... the first quote works best for me. The second doesn't work as well because sometimes I don't have anything important to say, at least not anything that makes much difference. But the sharing part of it is it. I love to communicate. I want to share. I would love to be understood. And I read your blog very frequently, because you have some very great stuff on there that you share...

Beth is the only person of you three who I've actually met in real life. In fact, I've known her for... OMG, it's actually 30 years now I think. (EEK. Beth, we should have an Anniversary party!) We are connected, but we don't often get to actually connect because we don't live so close and we have such different things going on in our lives. But I do think that blogging has made another connection between us.

I think I blog for connection too. Beth, you may feel disconnected because your life focuses on the girls right now. But I feel disconnected too, because I really don't fit in with many (or even any) of the people around here -- at least not much. A blog is a way to reach out to all of the rest of you people, and see if I'm REALLY as out there as I feel like I am. (The answer is yes. I'm really out there. But whatever.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

What am I DOING?

I've been thinking a lot about blogging, and privacy, and the reasons and motivations. WHY am I blogging? What's happening here?

Important Blogging Statistics from the Blog World Expo:

Over 12 million American adults currently maintain a blog.

More than 147 million Americans use the Internet.

Over 57 million Americans read blogs.

1.7 million American adults list making money as one of the reasons they blog. (not me.)

89% of companies surveyed say they think blogs will be more important in the next five years.

9% of internet users say they have created blogs . (Does that include every kid with a myspace?)

6% of the entire US adult population has created a blog .

Technorati is currently tracking over 70 million blogs .

Over 120 thousand blogs are created every day . (I've created at least 5. Only one or two or maybe three are actually active.)

There are over 1.4 million new blog posts every day .

22 of the 100 most popular websites in the world are blogs .

37% of blog readers began reading blogs in 2005 or 2006 .

51% of blog readers shop online .

Blog readers average 23 hours online each week .

BUT that's not really why I blog...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

What plant is this???


I want one of these in my yard.

I took this picture at the Union County College campus, as we were walking over to the Union County Music Fest 2008 in Cranford. I decided to post this picture first. Because I know that most of the people who read my blog really won't be interested in the whole concert, which I write and write and write and write about next. But this plant was really cool. I wish I had taken a better picture of it.
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