Travel Theme: Letters

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa invites to look at letters.

So let’s look at letters.

I can’t read it, but it’s letters for someone. The tattered remains of an ancient scroll written in hieroglyphics. Seen at Boston’s beautiful Museum of Fine Arts.

Don’t ask me what it says, I don’t remember. And I can’t read it. But it looks super-cool, doesn’t it?

Chef Boyardee was, in fact, a real live person. Hector Boiardi emigrated to the US, became a chef, began marketing his sauce and–as one thing leads to another–eventually had so much demand he needed his own factory. Hector Boiardi built said factory in the fertile, tomato-crop-growing lands of Milton, PA, just a few short miles from my home. It has since been bought out by a larger food company (which shall remain nameless) but the iconic smokestack–and the surrounding tomato fields–remain.

He's real, people.

He’s real, people.

As seen in Skaneateles, NY. ’nuff said.

Ham, sweet ham. HOME! HOME!

Ham, sweet ham. HOME! HOME! I mean HOME!

If you ever wanted to read a collection of poetry by Nobel Prize-winning author Pablo Neruda–translated into Russian–here’s your chance. It’s even prettier when it’s written in Cyrillic.

A little light reading (and a kind of creepy doll) before bed, anyone?

A little light reading (and a kind of creepy doll) to send you off to dreamland, anyone?

And recently, I went on a nighttime river cruise on the Hiawatha, an event-and-rentable (party) boat on the mighty Susquehanna River. Here’s the recently-risen moon, shining on the tiara of letters that spell the boat’s name.

Nice night for a cruise.

Nice night for a cruise.

That’s it, for now, for letters. I hope you enjoyed them! Or even want to play along yourself… 🙂 Happy shutterbugging!

Travel Theme: Slow

Ailsa has echoed the words I’ve heard over and over this past week: Can you believe it’s already December? Oh my stars, how the time has flown!

And you know, it’s true. I kind of can’t believe it myself. I mean…I have cookies to make! Presents to buy! A holiday visiting schedule to plan! And a birthday to have! What the hell? Is it really December?

Consequently, Ailsa’s travel theme this week is: slow. Ooh, nice. So get on over to Where’s My Backpack?, put your feet up, and relax.

Milton State Park is just up the road from my house. While it’s got its fair share of natural beauty, there are those odd bits of random debris that either get dumped or make their way up from the river, and are strangely beautiful in their own, slowly deteriorating way.

Time is having its way with this old tank.

Time is having its way with this old tank.

It’s been two years since Hurricane Sandy tore its way through the Jersey shore, and parts of the town of Seaside Heights have been slow to rebuild. Not that it’s the town’s fault, mind you. It’s just that there was an insane amount (technically referred to as a “staggering shit-ton”) of repair work that needed to be done, all along the NJ/NY/DE coasts.

Some day...

Not cool, Sandy. Not. Cool.

Closer to home, and with happier implications, on a lazy summer day I took a bike ride along our fine rail trail. The air was thick and heavy, and you had to push through it to go forward. Insects let out a slow buzz around my head and the bold, bright sun pushed every living thing back into the comfort of shade. Even the cows couldn’t be bothered.

Central PA was burdened by summer this day.

Cow stays under the tree branch, because being out in the sun = a whole lot of nope.

While visiting my boyfriend’s family, we took a side trip to The Meadowlands Museum for a slice of Rutherford history. It was very well done, with thoughtful exhibits that highlighted topics of industrial, ecological and cultural importance to the area. In the basement, though, they had tables filled with items that didn’t quite belong anywhere yet, and were in the process of being catalogued. Like this device, which is perhaps the slowest way I can imagine to crank out fresh-squeezed citrus juices (though I’d bet it would extract every single drop).

Crank that orange like it ain't no thing.

Crank that orange like it ain’t no thing.

And finally…

Check out the slow, steady flow of the beautiful Susquehanna River. I get to feast my eyes on this every day.



So remember, folks, to take a few minutes and breathe every now and again. Maybe we can’t slow down time, but we can manage our reaction to it. And check out the other folks participating in Ailsa’s travel challenge! Maybe you’ll find something in there that will inspire your own entry… 🙂

CBS News, I Beg You: Write More Gooder, Pleez

I try not to be a total grammar freak. Then this article showed up in my Facebook feed, and it was so poorly written that I couldn’t look on in indifference. I realize this is partially–only partially–a transcript from the accompanying news video, but even with the pictures working in concert with the reporter, the story is still half-assed. For people like me, who read the articles rather than watch a video (because I prefer reading, and do we really need things chattering at us all the time?), the transcript is a nightmare.

If you read this and think that the timeline is funky, then FYI I thought that too, until I realized the article was written in 2011. I hope Steve Hartman has gotten an editor by now.

DAUPHIN BOROUGH, Penn. – The statue appeared in the middle of the Susquehanna River, near a town in the middle of Pennsylvania called Dauphin Borough. if you said, “in Dauphin Boro, a small town eight miles north from Pennsylvania’s capital city of Harrisburg”, that would have given the reader (and viewer) a much better idea of where you’re talking about.

According to news reports at the time (at what time? 5PM? 1776? Daylight savings time? You give no time), drivers got so distracted, the comma is unnecessary but meh, OK they started running into each other. As an aside, this is central PA, so the drivers could be Amish buggy drivers. We don’t know. You don’t clarify.

As CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports, it wasn’t just any statue. The huge edifice statue (an edifice is a building), that seemed to just emerge from the river that morning (what morning? aren’t the basic tenets of journalism “Who, What, Where, When, and Why”? And yet you refuse to tell us when any of this happened) and still greets commuters today (did this go up yesterday? Then it’s not a big deal), was none other than Lady Liberty herself.

How on Earth did it get here there (you’re mixing your adverbs; when you say it got “here”, that makes it sound like it ended up on your desk. Rather, it got “there”, in the middle of the Susquehanna River.)? No one would claim claimed responsibility at the time. But now, 25 years later, it is a mystery no more (hackneyed choice of phrase. I can live with it, but you can do better next time).

“Kept it quiet,” said Gene Stlip Stilp. “That was part of the fun of the whole thing.”

Stilp was a local lawyer (did he give all that up for rogue statue construction? What does he do now? And what does his lawyering have to do with the story, anyway? Can’t he just be a local resident? Local patriot? Local mischief maker?) who built the statue in a friend’s garage to honor the New York Statue of Liberty. “It was going to be the 100th anniversary and it’d be nice to do something here,” Stlip Stilp said.

A replica of the Statue of Liberty is seen in the Susquehanna River.
A replica of the Statue of Liberty is seen in the Susquehanna River.


Made from plywood and Venetian blinds, (unnecessary comma) to cut down on wind resistance, Stlip Stilp put it together himself and then recruited a handful of accomplices to sneak it onto an old railroad pier in the middle of the night.

“I still want to know,” Ed Chubb asked (who is this guy? And why do we care what he asked?), “is the statute of limitations up for anything we might have…?”

“The statute of limitations is passed,” Stlip STILP, goddamit! replied.

What they did was not only technically illegal (because why? Says who? Says you? Please explain. If space is a concern, you could explain how they broke the law in the opening clause, like this: What they did was not only commit illegal trespass on state land, it was also a poorly conceived stunt., it was also highly ill-conceived (highly ill? I don’t think so. Poorly conceived. Better. And why was it poorly conceived? Bad boating area? Rapids? Bermuda Triangle? Crazy cannibal families in those parts that it’s best to not go near?) 

Steve Oliphant (Who?) was concered concerned about how dangerous that part of the river was. “I begged you not to go,” Oliphant told Chubb. because the cannibal clan would get him, he seemed to say. Or not. We don’t know why he was so desperate for his friend to not go.

“But when we got it up and saw it from the highway,” Chubb replied, “It was like, ‘wow Capitalize the w. Seriously. This is first grade, learning-to-write stuff. Wow, that wasn’t a bad idea, it worked.'”

The statue stood for six years until a strong gust of very PLEASE! Enough with the overuse of “very” unpatriotic wind blew her off her pedestal. That could have easily though it wasn’t; odd bit of editorializing been the end of this story, but by 1992, folks in Dauphin Borough had grown so fond of the idea of having their own Statue of Liberty that they collected $25,000 to build a replica of their replica.

This newer Clunky phrasing. Try: The replacement statue — sturdier, taller and eight times heavier — has been able to hold her ground for 14 proud and glorious years.

“Liberty, you know, the community rallied around it,” Chubb said.

If these guys the Susquehanna River statue conspirators have their way, she’ll Lady Liberty will continue to reign over the Susquehanna River as long as freedom itself.

And therein lies the end of the article. Remind me again why I…oh, never mind. Whatever I was going to ask, I realized I don’t want to have answered honestly. Just remember, people, if you’re going to write, then clarify, and clarify, and clarify again.


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