Spoiler Alert — there are cute 👶🏼 baby photos in this post. Admittedly, we are a bit very prejudged in saying that our 2 great nieces, born two weeks apart in October 2019, are real charmers. Both are 4 months old this month. Autumn Rose, who was born in early October 2019, is clearly not camera-sky and is already working the camera.
Her mom is our oldest niece, Julie, who took these photos at the pre-school where she works and where Autumn attends "infant school" several days a week. She and her parents, Julie and Michael, live in NJ and we first met Autumn during the holiday season.
We also met Autumn's younger by 2 weeks cousin, Savannah Marie, last Christmas (doesn't seem so long ago). She and her parents, Jamie and Mike, have relocated to FL where recent graduate Jamie has accepted a nursing position
Our recent FL travels weren't near where they are living now. We hope to see them on a future trip to NJ again, where her maternal grandparents live.
Another event these cousins share, besides their birthday month, is their christening month. In January, Autumn and Savannah were both baptized in the same NJ church and by the same parish priest. Here they are below with their parents.
We enjoy getting (and sharing) updated photos of these two cousins, our great nieces, courtesy of their parents.
Not as in doing any exercise, but as in riding on a 🚉 —for a very long time from NH to FL. An earlier post, Gonna Take . . . referenced a train ride in the context of a popular 1940s song, Sentimental Journey.
However, this recent trip was a 🎂 gift (thanks again for the well wishes) from my ever-so-thoughtful husband who said this was a shared birthday trip.
That it coincided with a ham radio event was just coincidence, he explained with a smile. He wanted to attend HamCation®, the second largest ham radio show in the U.S. at the Central Florida Fairgrounds & Expo Park in Orlando, FL, Feb 7-9 and suggested a train ride.
Last spring, he posed a similar query which led to an extended road trip after we went to Xenia, OH for Hamvention®, the largest U.S. amateur ham radio gathering. Afterwards, we traveled a route that took us through GA, AL, FL, VA to visit family and friends. Last spring, he posed a similar query which led to an extended road trip after we went to Xenia, OH for Hamvention®, the largest U.S. amateur ham radio gathering. Afterwards, we traveled a route that took us through GA, AL, FL, VA to visit family and friends. Our travels took us from NH to FL and included a bus ride and two train rides each way. The bus trip was the shortest from NH to Boston, MA, at just over an hour. In South Street Station, Boston, we boarded a train to Penn Station NYC which was about 3-1/2 hours. And, NYC to Orlando, FL, was an overnighter at just under 8 hours. Train coach seating is far more generous than a plane coach seat. Seats recline and have footrests. We opted to sleep in ours vs. paying extra $ for a sleeper compartment. That decision was based on our desire to see if we could do it and how comfortable (or not) it would be — it was not.
Going to FL and seated in the middle of the coach car, we slept or rather catnapped. But, on the return trip, we were seated near the doors which were very extremely noisy when approaching/leaving a station stop. (It was not a non-stop trip.) If we ever take another overnight trip, we'll pay for a sleeper.
Admittedly, my interest in ham radio is zero. But, if a road trip of any sort is involved, then I'm a very willing travel companion. I've attended some local ham radio events in New England and can always find ways to keep busy while Grenville is at these events. I had a slight cold before we left for FL, so lounging in our room or the hotel lobby was OK with me. I watched several online movies and read 2 books previously downloaded to my Kindle. It was very relaxing. Temps hovered in the mid-70s during our visit, so I spent part of an afternoon at the historic Orlando Train Station, a short walk from our hotel. We'd arrived here a couple of days earlier, but didn't look around while awaiting a rental car pick-up.
The Mission Revival style station was built in 1926 by M. A. Griffith and W. T. Hadlow for the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) Railroad at a cost of $500,000. At the station’s opening in January 1927, more than 6,000 visitors came to tour the new facility
The stucco-faced station includes two domed towers that flank the entrance and a long arcade. The Orlando sign that bears the city’s name was hand-designed by Griffith, the station’s architect, and is considered one of its finest features. In 1978, the station was designated a historic local landmark representing Orlando’s history, culture and heritage. In 1990, the city undertook a major building renovation and repaired the tile roof, twin domes and stucco surfaces and restored original light fixtures, wood doors and windows. Replacement fixtures, windows and doors were crafted to blend with their counterparts. A new coat of paint was added, based on historic color schemes.
It became part of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad after the ACL merged with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad in 1967. It's now served by Amtrak, the U.S. national railroad passenger system, SunRail, the commuter rail service of Greater Orlando, and local and intercity buses. It provides service to over 160,000 passengers a year. Despite near several Florida theme parks like Disney, Universal, Epcot, Sea World, we had no interest (or time) to visit any. And, you would be surprised at the number of people who asked if we did go to any. (Our interest level is zero for any of these attractions.)
Instead on our last full day in Orlando, we went to Lake Eola, a public park in the heart of Downtown Orlando, with a nearly 1 mile long sidewalk that circles the artificial lake. The lake is actually a sinkhole that's now famous for its fountain. In 1883, wealthy Orlando resident and hotel owner Jacob Summerlin, the first City Council president, donated land around the lake on the condition that it be beautified and turned into a park with trees and a "driveway" put in around the lake. To ensure that the city followed through with thesestipulations, Summerlin put reverter clauses in the contract allowing the family to take back the property if the city failed to maintain it. His sons named it Lake Eola, after a lady they knew. The area was officially declared as a park in 1892 and has since been home to a zoo, horse race track, tennis courts, and pier with a dance area.
The fountain was installed in 1912 at a cost of $10,000. This now iconic water feature is an official symbol of Orlando and is named the Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain. Allen was a banker, traveler, veteran of both World Wars, and a prominent figure in Orlando's early days. He persuaded the city to put a fountain in Lake Eola. It was named the Centennial Fountain marking the city's 100th anniversary of its name. After Allen's 1965 death, the fountain was renamed in his honor.
Lightning struck the fountain in August 2009, rendering it inoperable. The city had a $1 million insurance policy and not only repaired the fountain, but installed a state-of-the-art light system and water jets at a $2.3 million cost. It resumed operation July 2011.
The fountain, while striking, isn't the only remarkable sight at Lake Eola. There are various forms of wildlife including ducks, swans (five different species), geese, curlew, cormorants, egrets, herons and turtles. Food can be purchased at vending machines for feeding the wildlife as most can't digest bread. The swan and turtle in the photos below intently watched each other for quite awhile.
It's not unusual to see the birds very close to the lake's shoreline where they often nest. This swan was building a nest during our visit. Another nest already had several eggs.
As wonderful as warm weather was in Fl, we were glad to return home to New England. A number of birthday cards were waiting when we picked up the mail.
Cards are always displayed on the bookcases in our apartment home. It makes me smile to see them every day. Do you also display cards?
Even though my actual birthday has passed, it doesn't mean the celebration is over. After all, there are 364 days until the next one — So celebrate a birthday year 🎈
Today, is Valentine's Day or, as Grenville and I prefer, Hearts ❤️ Day
Hearts Afloat or Hearts on High ?
According to online sources, there have been many men named Valentine connected to the holiday, a number of were martyrs.
Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, the Roman army relied largely on single men. Claudius had banned marriage as he thought it distracted young soldiers.To save lives, Valentine, bishop of Terni at the time, would marry couples to keep husbands away from war. Unfortunately, the emperor didn't think this was a noble or romantic deed and beheaded the bishop near the outskirts of Rome. After he was sentenced to death, young couples would visit his cell leaving flowers and cards. He's said to have died on February 14.
Another less violent tale states that a man named Valentine, after imprisonment by the Romans, sent a letter to a woman he loved with the signature, From your Valentine.
The widespread custom of exchanging cards and handwritten letters to lovers and friends began during the 17th century. However, it was in the 1840s that the first Valentine's Day cards sold by Esther A. Howland were mass-produced in the U.S.
Howland, known as the "Mother of the American Valentine," is credited with commercializing Valentine's Day cards in the U.S. by making cards handcrafted with lace and ribbons. Hallmark Cardsproduced its first Valentine's card in 1913.
In the U.S., folks will spend billions of dollars to celebrate this date. Valentine's Day is the second biggest holiday for exchanging greeting cards after Christmas. Teachers receive the most Valentine's Day cards annually, followed by children, mothers, and wives. Hallmark Cardsproduced its first Valentine's card in 1913.
According to estimates, this year the average American will spend over $196 on Valentine's Day. According to a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) across the nation, holiday sales are expected to top $27.4 billion. While candy and flowers are the most common gifts for Valentine's Day, per the NRF, jewelry tops them at $4.7 billion spent. The second most popular gift is an evening out at $3.7 billion, followed by flowers, clothing, and then candy.
We're celebrating with dinner at home 🥰. Our menu will include filet mignon (a treat), fresh veggies, a glass (or two) or red wine and gelato for dessert.
How about you — Any special Hearts Day celebrating planned?
No, not a sentimental journey, but a short blog break because of a special event which will be shared in future posts when it's ended. Even though I won't be actively posting for awhile, I'll be following your blog posts and commenting as time allows. And, since I usually almost always like to include a back story in many posts, here's some information about a popular 1944 song, Sentimental Journey. The song describes someone set to take a train to a place to where there's a great emotional attachment and mounting anticipation in wondering why he/she roamed. The music was written by Les Brown and Ben Homer; lyrics were written by Bud Green. If you know the tune, go ahead and sing out loud (no one will hear). Here's the lyrics. Gonna take a sentimental journey
Gonna set my heart at ease Gonna make a sentimental journey To renew old memories
I got my bag, I got my reservation Spent each dime i could afford Like a child in wild anticipation I long to hear that: "all aboard!"
Seven, that's the time we leave - at seven I'll be waiting up for heaven Counting every mile of railroad track - that moves me back
I never though my heart could be so yearny
Why did I decide to roam Gotta take a sentimental journey Sentimental journey home
Bandleader Les Brown and His Band of Renown had been performing the song, but were unable to record it because of a 1942–44 musicians' strike. When the strike ended, the band, and 20-year old vocalist Doris Day, had a hit record with the song in 1945. It was Day's first #1 hit. (Over the next two decades, Day made 40 movies and became the top female box-office star in Hollywood history, with a No. 1 ranking in 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1964. She was top box office over contemporaries including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. With her blond good look and girl-next-door appeal, Day projected a wholesome public image and was dubbed America's Sweetheart.) The song's release coincided with the end of WW II in Europe and became the unofficial homecoming theme for many veterans. The record first reached the Billboard charts on March 29, 1945 and stayed 23 weeks on the chart, peaking at #1. Day's vocals have been described as “honey with a dash of pepper, that would make anyone to pack a bag and join her on that journey home,” what many GIs wanted to do when it debuted in 1944. Sentimental Journey became a standard with jazz artists and was recorded by many others, some of whom surprised me. Ella Fitzgerald released a version in 1947. Conway Twitty did a rock 'n roll version in his 1959 album. Frank Sinatra recorded his version in 1961. The Platters covered it in 1963. In 1965,Harry Jamesrecorded a version inNew Versions of Down Beat Favorites. Booker T. & the MG's performed an instrumental version on their 1966 album, And Now! In 1994, Les Brown and His Band of Renown teamed up with Barry Manilow on a version of the song for Manilow's album Singin' With The Big Bands.Rosemary Clooneyissued a 2001 albumSentimental Journeywhich included the song. The song was featured in a popular 1978 episode of M*A*S*H episode titled, Your Hit Parade. Commanding officer, Col. Sherman T. Potter, a long-time fan of Doris Day, had the song played over the camp P.A. system several times during the day.
Now, for your enjoyment (hopefully) here's a sentimental trip back in time with Doris Day. The video was "borrowed" online from YouTube. It features photos of Ms. Day, plus a few commercials (sorry)
Everyone, for all the birthday 🎂 well wishes, which were read and very much appreciated. While there was no big celebration on my actual special day, we will be doing something special which I'll share all about that in a future blog post. (Hint: it has something to do with a blog break I'm taking next week.) My birthday blog post related the story of Saint Blaise and that he is known for the blessing of the throats sacramental observed in the Roman Catholic Church and other religions. His feast day and my birthday are celebrated on the same day. In my parochial school days, the blessing was a regular event. However, in the years since, my observance has sadly lapsed. This year, I planned to go to a local RC Church for the blessing. Sadly, the church was like some restaurants and bakeries in that it was closed on Monday and not even a daily mass celebrated. My brother later told me that his church did the blessing during the Sunday services on Feb 2. Next year I'll plan ahead.
It's time to celebrate 🍾 WHY? Other than the fact that celebrating every day is good — today is my birthday 🎂 While those of us over a certain age no longer count candles on a cake, it's far better than the alternative, don't you agree? While I won't celebrate with a cake, there will be some form of dessert today. Beside being my birthday, today is also the feast day of Saint Blaise, the Patron Saint of Throat Ailments and English Wool Combers (you'll see this connection later). By now, some of you may be wondering who's Saint Blaiseandwhat did he do? My knowledge of Saint Blaise comes from parochial (Roman Catholic) school days in my native NJ. That's why I'm using this post to relate his story since, as with anything for me, there's always a story to tell. It seems that the story of Saint Blaise is not well known, if at all. Saint Blaise is credited with starting the sacramental of the Roman Catholic Church known as The Blessing of the Throats,observed on Feb. 3. It's celebrated on this date in Eastern Catholic Churches, and in parishes of the Anglican Communion as a commemoration. A sacramental is an observance like, but not counted, among the sacraments. Examples include: holy water, the sign of the cross, crucifixes, rosaries, religious pictures, Holy Medals, liturgical candles, statues, palm leaves, ashes on Ash Wednesday services.
Saint Blaise was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia during the Fourth century. Few details are known about his life. Many of its miraculous aspects were written about in the Acts of St Blaise, some 400 years after his martyrdom. According to accounts, he was described as a good bishop who worked to encourage the spiritual and physical health of his people. He was a physician before being named a bishop. Although the Edict of Toleration (311), granting freedom of worship in the Roman Empire, was five years old, persecution still raged in Armenia. In 316, Agricola, the governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, arrested Bishop Blaise for being a Christian. On the way to the jail, a woman set her only son at his feet. The boy was chocking as a fishbone had lodged in his throat. Bishop Blaise cured the child. One account related that a miracle happened on the journey to prison when Bishop Blaise placed his hand on the boy's head and prayed. According to another, the miracle happened while he was imprisoned and formed a cross around the boy's throat with candles. The use of candles to bless throats stems from when Bishop Blaise used candles while in prison. His supplier was a woman grateful after her pig had been rescued from a wolf by Bishop Blaise. She visited him in prison, bringing food and candles to light the dark cell. Governor Agricola, while amazed, couldn't get Bishop Blaise to renounce his faith and sacrifice to pagan idols. His first refusal resulted in a beating. The next time, he was suspended from a tree and his flesh torn with iron combs or rakes after which, he was beheaded.
In modern blessings, candles are joined together by a red ribbon, the color of martyrdom. It's customary to touch the throat with the candles, but not required, especially if the candles are lit, which they are in some places. Candles are held over the person and a blessing is recited: Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. In my elementary school days, I felt very special every Feb. 3 as my classmates and I walked to the adjoining church for this blessing. It's been a number of years since I've participated in this event. This year, I will participate as we live within walking distance of a Roman Catholic Church. Now you know two things for today — my birthday and the story of Saint Blaise. But, there's more. My astrological sign Aquarius, the water bearer, is considered an air sign. The water element represents emotions; Aquarius is involved with water by carrying it. Aquarians are said to highly value their freedom and are thought to have active minds, which can lead to hours spent thinking about interesting ways to approach life — which could explain my passion for online sleuthing. They are optimistic and compassionate towards others. Aquarians born on this date should guard against pretense, and self-indulgence — so that's why I like chocolate so much ! My birthday is shared with many well-known performers, artists, writers, and musicians, such as Gertrude Stein, James Michener, Norman Rockwell, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Earl Jones, Ferdinand Magellan, Horace Greeley, Joey Bishop, Blythe Danner, Henning Mankell, and Nathan Lane, also my cousin and dentist.
Happy 🎁 Birthday to All of Us🎈 While I have no special birthday plans, Grenville may surprise me 😮.
Hopefully, all those who guessed at last week's Friday Funnies had a bit of fun trying to figure out the what is this? posted photo. As for those who didn't venture a guess, there just could be a next time. Honestly, I thought that some folks might have found the answer too easy and that it wouldn't have been a challenge — How wrong I was as only 3 folks got it — BIG kudos to fellow bloggers, Buttercup of Buttercup Counts Her Blessings blog, Doris of Fun Times, and Sara, a non-blogger friend. Many people thought it looked like exercise equipment. In fact, it was taken at my recent dental appointment. I stared at the overhead light that looked like an alien image.
After saying that to the dental hygienist, she flipped it to show the other side and remarked that it looked like a steer and that was the image posted last week.
Thanks to all who participated. Unfortunately, there's no cash or prize involved, just the knowledge of getting it right. I hope that's enough for Buttercup, Doris and Sara.
Last spring I had cataract surgery. The procedures and aftermath, which are not gory in the least, were described in two separate posts in late April (The Better to See) and early May (Seeing Clearly Now). Those details won't be repeated in this post, which is more of an update. As posted earlier, both surgeries were successful in giving me distance vision which has eliminated the need to wear glasses for driving/seeing things far off and in seeing colors much brighter. Prior to surgery, my glasses did not correct well enough for distance while driving, especially when trying to see road signs. And, everything was totally covered by basic Medicare. However, we also have a Medicare Supplement plan which would have taken care of any additional costs, if needed. The only "expense" was the co-pay required for eye drops used before and after the surgeries.
All has been great, except that reading glasses became a definite necessity to read anything with fine print not only papers, magazines, mail, but also grocery store labels which became the most challenging as I disliked taking the "readers" on and off. Yes, I know, it's a minor inconvenience and far less costly than my previous eyeglass prescription and frames. So I bought some readers many to put in the apt — kitchen, bedroom, living room, by the PC, also a pair in the glove compartments of our two vehicles, my purse. Also a spare pair in the suitcase so as not to forget one when going on a road trip. Sounds excessive, perhaps, but as noted above, they are comparatively inexpensive. Dollar Stores, pharmacies, and many other places carry them. No prescription is needed, just a recommended strength, which for me is +2.00. Still, I wanted freedom to not need to carry/look around for readers, especially when using a cell phone, tablet, and especially a digital camera. The smaller the camera, the smaller the settings to read.
The solution — a single contact lens that's worn in my left eye and corrects for close reading. The right eye remains corrected for distance. Unlike when wearing reading glasses, I can walk around and, yes, even drive my car with the single contact. However, I've opted not to wear it when driving. I prefer to have both eyes distance corrected when on the road. Yes, I still have reading glasses strategically placed around the apartment and in the cars, but now I have a choice. The contact lens is a "daily wear" that's removed nightly, cleaned with a solution, and placed in a lens case overnight. It can be worn for up to 2 weeks. If necessary, it could be worn overnight; my optometrist doesn't advise this on a regular basis.
A separate exam was required before a prescription can be written. Our medical plans don't cover the cost of the exam or contacts. However, my optometrist's office price-matched so I was able to save $ and shop locally. If anyone else has or will be having cataract surgery and wants a choice, this might be something to consider. So far, it's been working well for me.