A Word A Week Challenge: Square

Skinnywench has issued this week’s Word A Week Challenge, and it is: square.

Photo from thedissolve.com

George McFly, squaring it up.
Photo from thedissolve.com

No! Not that kind of square!

Ummm...

Ummm…

OK, fine. I guess that’s marginally more like it.

You know.  Square, like the geometry people talk about.  Square, like a city block.  Square, like,..

This entire array of buildings and signs, somewhere outside Chicago.

That's a lot of squarity.

That’s a lot of squarity.

Or like these very square princess kites floating in the skies over Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

You go, Snow!

You go, Snow!

Here’s a very square assortment of very square windows and doors located along a square in Rome. (I think it was the Piazza Navona but I can’t be 100% sure.  Guess I have to go back…!)

Those are some square-ass windows, for sure.

Those are some square-ass windows, for sure.

Squares support the curves in this awesome wooden roller coaster (the Twister, FYI) at Knoebel’s.

Or did I just blow your mind?

Or did I just blow your mind?

And then there’s: random assortment of chairs set out after being freshly re-caned.  I don’t know what I like best about this picture?  The random assortment of mismatched furniture?  The readily apparent craftsmanship?  The contrast of the straight lines against the natural background?  This was taken a scant few miles from my house, during the Rural Heritage Festival at the Dale/Engel/Walker House in beautiful Lewisburg, PA.

We set out chairs in central PA to welcome all newbies. Thanks for dropping by!

We set out chairs in central PA to welcome all newbies. Thanks for dropping by!

So there you have it.  Behold the squareness!  Enjoy the rest of the challenge participants.

Sunrise on Lake Superior; Lutsen, MN

Once again I have come to the entirely inescapable conclusion, after seeing it once more with my very own eyes, that Lake Superior is, indeed, one great frigging lake.  Some day…sommmmmmme dayyyyyyy I will drive the entire perimeter of Lake Superior, some day, though it is not this day (and I refrain from using the term “Bucket List” because I hate the idea and the movie and pretty much anything that relates to Jack Nicholson because sorry but he is overrated (there, I said it) but that’s how the entire world relates to any future aspirations now–well, I want to do it before I die, how wonderful is that?–and so I have to suck it up).

But I digress.

So, sunrise, on the north shore of Lake Superior.  A photographer at the wedding we were at two days before told us that we’d have a better view “on the other side of the lake” which I could only take to mean “Canada”.  Considering the semi-sheltered area we were in, I’m sure he’s right.  Too bad we didn’t have our passports and another two days to get around to “the other side” because we were a mere 60-ish miles from the border.

Holy snowshoes! That's up there!

Holy snowshoes! That’s up there!

The days before had, for the most part, been cloudy and gray (and oof, chilly!  I’m so glad our friends warned us to bring jackets and other sundry cool-weather clothing) but happily, our last morning there dawned clear and bright (and chilly, but at least I was sensible enough to pack plenty of socks and some sturdy shoes).  Down to the rocky little beachfront we went…and I’m just going to let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

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The light quickly became too intense for me to take any more pictures here without worrying that I would burn out my camera, so it was sunrise and done.  But!  This li’l fella kept me company the whole time.

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Post-Grad Road Trip! Leg Two. Hello, Nebraska!

There we were in Joliet, with full bellies and one blackened eye, ready to get back on the road for day two of our travels out west.  (Missed day one?  Go here.  Catch up.  Get back to me.)  We made it to Ogallala, Nebraska that day.

Two days, roughly 1575 miles. Not. Too. Shabby.

Unforch, again, not too many pictures.  Those will come in the next installment, I promise.  For the first few days of this trip, we were all about business, didn’t stop much, and were focused on getting OUT WEST.  We did much more sight-seeish sorts of things the next two days.  What I remember about this part of the trip?  It was hot.  Like, hot-hot, and sticky.  It was flat.  This was the first time I’d ever experienced the Midwestern, flat-and-straight prairie (the farthest west I’d driven before that was to Chicago) and you really CAN see things coming at you for miles.  We drove through a tornado warning that night, which we–perhaps thankfully–didn’t know about until we got to the hotel.  Really, we should have anticipated a tornado watch.  The clouds were somewhat psycho that day, forming and unforming, going from non-existent to ominous in a matter of a few miles.

Taken from the window of the car. Flat and ominous, indeed.

Here are some notable moments from this part of the trip:

Somewhere in Iowa, I remember seeing a bank of trees that were all, entirely, bent at a 90° angle because the constant wind didn’t permit them to grow straight.

Somewhere in Iowa, I smelled my first pig farm, and finally understood why marrying Pig Finn was such an unappealing prospect in the movie Waking Ned Devine.

We drove through Omaha, Nebraska, after rush hour.  We were still expecting traffic to crawl along since it was a city, after all.  It wasn’t.  We blew through it.  I have no idea if traffic has become more dense since then, but for someone whose first (and most frequent) experience with a city was New York, where there is always traffic, this was an eye-opening experience.

Somewhere in Nebraska, at a gas station, a man walked past, looked at the license plate and said, “Hoo weee!  You girls are a long way from home!”  Which isn’t particularly all that strange, maybe, or memorable for anyone else.  Plus, it was factually correct.  But.  It helped me recognize that I was adrift from all my safety nets.  My parents, my (then) husband, the rest of my family, were all a thousand miles away–literally.  It was the first time I realized that it wouldn’t be so hard to slip off the grid and while that prospect holds some sense of terror, it was also exhilarating.  Freeing.  I almost asked my friends to leave me in Wyoming, but that’s another story for a later blog AND, it’s also not what happened.  But there, in Nebraska, the possibility of a great big world opened up for me.  Lessons exist no matter where you go, so long as you’re open to them.

Remember I said it was sticky-hot?  We’d bought ourselves little spray bottles so we could mist ourselves while driving.  No A/C in the car.  And it was hot.  So.

Meet the inevitable.

There is no way we could have been stuck in a car all day, in the heat, more than a little wired, with full spray bottles of water, and not end up running around the parking lot of the hotel engaged in a massive spray bottle battle.  When women get together it’s not always about lipstick and bitchy competition for the cutest boy.  Remember that, people.

Next up: A bit more Nebraska, a trip through Wyoming, and a glimpse at a Nevada sunrise.

Post-Grad Road Trip! Leg One

The year I graduated from college, I took a road trip with two of my housemates and wonderful friends, Sue and Gail (names changed to protect those who are hardly innocent).  The objective of the road trip was to get Gail to her parents’ house so she could spend the summer in sunny California, visit Jane, another friend who (quite conveniently) lived fairly close to Gail’s folks, and have a great time seeing the country.

Starting point: Edison, NJ, home of the Edison Lighthouse and…a…ummmm…hmmmmm…oh!  Home of Middlesex County College, where I started my college career in the first place. End point: San Jose, CA, home of the aforementioned friend, Original Joe’s Italian restaurant (have the piccata), the San Jose Sharks, and every tech company you could ever imagine.  (Actually, I think Gail’s parents lived in Fremont at the time but I don’t remember for sure and Jane certainly was in San Jose, so I’m sticking with that.)  Time limitations: we had to be there in four days, because Sue had a scheduling conflict and had to fly on day five.  This was why we made the very practical decision to hop on Rt. 80 and ride that all the way to Cali.

Across the entirety of the US.  Four days.  We can do this.

Day one:

From Edison, NJ to Joliet, IL, in one day. Not too shabby!

A few things about Day One:  Yes, we really made it that far.  No, I don’t have a lot of pictures from this day, unfortunately.  We were driving primarily across Pennsylvania during the daylight hours and it’s not that Pennsylvania doesn’t have its charms but they were charms we were all familiar with, and I was not yet a camera junkie.  By the time we got to the (relatively, to us) unfamiliar charms of Ohio it was getting dark and by the time we got to Indiana, it was well into the night.  Things might have been different if we’d left a little earlier in the day BUT, we had to recuperate from my graduation party the night before, where the beer did flow like a mighty river.  From what I remember, it was a good party that was not without its moments of WTFery.  For a variety of reasons.  Moving on.

So we drove and drove and drove.  Through Ohio.  Through Indiana.  We got to the Illinois state line and kept going, but when we rolled into Joliet at two in the morning we stopped.  For gas.  Not for sleeping.  For gas, and coffee.  Gail was wired and ready to go another couple of hours.  I was exhausted.  As for Sue…

…then it happened.

She must have been more tired than she realized, because she bent down to get something out of the car, misjudged her distance and BOOM.  Whacked her face right into the frame of the car.  By the time she stood up–a mere second or two later–her eye was already black and swollen.

Nice shiner.

Note: the above photo is my equivalent of the witness protection program.  I was looking for a pirate eyepatch for Sue’s other eye and had to settle for a googley instead.  C’est la vie.

We took it as a sign that we were becoming a danger to ourselves and others, and checked into the nearest hotel.

The next day, we went to breakfast at Bob Evans.  We walked in a little grungy, a little sleep-deprived, in need of food and coffee.  With a friend with a fantastically blackened eye.  The table of eight or ten church ladies there for a breakfast meeting fell silent.  They shifted uncomfortably in their dusty lavender or country-duck-blue  pantsuits and cream-colored mock turtlenecks, though I don’t think it had as much to do with us as it did that those clothes are fricking uncomfortable.  I mean seriously, the materials don’t breathe so they trap every molecule of body heat one can exude, and they’re scratchy.  I have no real love for petroleum-based clothing products, as much as they had no love for three grungy women, one of them with a black eye, walking in for a late breakfast when we should have been busily doing the Lord’s work.

But the person I remember most from the Bob Evans was our waitress, an adorable little midwestern blonde who thought three women, a black eye, one car, and a California destination were the coolest things she’d ever seen.  I’m not assuming that was her evaluation of us; she said to me, “Omigod, you girls are, like, the coolest people I’ve ever seen.”

Seems we can really bring down the house in Joliet.

I talked to her for a few minutes.  She said, “I would love to do what you’re doing, just get in a car and GO!  And out to California?  Wow.”  I said she should do it and we had a few moments of conversation that went like this:

“Mmm-mm.  Nope.  I can’t.”

“Sure you can.”

“No I can’t.”

“But you can!”

“No.”

Finally I asked her why not.  She looked right at me–I’ll never forget this–and said, “I don’t have friends.  Not ones like you have, anyway.”

*sigh*

What do you do with that?  Other than appreciate the marvelous creatures who enter your life and agree to spend time with you out of joy and interest rather than duty or to alleviate boredom.  Thank you, friends.

And to that waitress whose name I don’t remember, I’ve been wishing you well since the day I met you.  I hope you make it out to California with a few good friends along for the ride.

As an added bonus, here is the band Edison Lighthouse (ironically, not named for either the inventor Thomas Edison, the town of Edison or the art deco lighthouse found there) with their one and only hit, Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes.  Enjoy!

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