Wednesday, August 09, 2017

ABC Wednesday..."E" as in Mt. Etna

Welcome once again to ABC Wednesday and the letter "E" as in Mt. Etna.

Getting to the top of Mt. Etna was one of the things on the Bucket List that I did for the letter B.  Let me explain.

From December 1968 until May 1971 we lived in Sicily.  My husband was in the US Navy at the time.  One weekend a day trip was planned to the top of Mt. Etna.  Mt. Etna is Europe's largest active volcano.  A bunch of us from the base took a bus to the ski lodge on Mt. Etna.  It was June and we all wore light weight clothes.  We had been told to wear long pants and to bring a jacket in case we needed it.  I remember one lady had even worn sandals.  That was a big mistake!  When we got off the bus at the ski lodge it wasn't summer anymore...it was cold.  Fortunately, we were able to rent winter coats at the lodge.  Here we are before we got our rental coats.
 We were loaded onto smaller vehicles (probably 4 wheel drive) for the next part of the trip up the mountain.  All of a sudden they stopped and we were told we'd have to climb the rest of the way.  It was freezing cold and there was an ice storm.  I've never been so cold in my life.

This wasn't really mountain climbing like you see them do on Mt. Everest.  No ropes or anything.  It was more like climbing up a steep hill.  Some months before man had walked on the moon for the very first time and up there Mt. Etna kind of reminded me of the moon.  No vegetation and black lava dust on the ground.

Our group was really not prepared.  Although Mt. Etna's elevation is only 10,991 feet a couple of people had to stop to catch their breath.  (These are old slides that were scanned.)
Here is our group of friends...
At the time I was about 6 months pregnant.  I kept slipping and falling on the icy ground (everyone was falling) and the weather was worse the higher we went.  I knew if something happened I'd have to get off the mountain, back to the base, and on a plane to Naples where the Naval Hospital was located.  I decided it wasn't worth the risk.  Reluctantly, I had a guide help me back down to the vehicle where I waited for everyone else.  I knew at the time I would regret not making it to the very top, but also knew in my heart I was doing the right thing.

My husband later told me that if I had just climbed for five more minutes I would have been at the top.  He told me that they held their hands over the top and could feel the warmth.  Here's a slide that he took at the top of Mt. Etna.
They didn't stay up there very long.  Soon they joined me in the vehicle and we rode back down to the ski lodge for lunch.  That's me on the right with the bottle of brandy.  Believe me...we all needed it!  (Back then no one said anything about not drinking during pregnancy.)
I had a healthy baby boy that October, but I've always regretted not making it to the very top.  I always thought that someday we might go back to Sicily, but my husband died and I've gotten older so making that trip is kind of doubtful now.  It's on my Bucket List, but really more of a dream.

As long as we lived there I would watch Mt. Etna smoking.  Here's the view from our apartment in Catania...
and when we moved onto the base the view from our street...
You can't really see the smoke in these old slides, but it always seemed to be smoking.  There were small eruptions while we lived in Sicily.

Last March a group of tourists were up on top of Mt. Etna when it suddenly erupted throwing hot lava into the air.  People had to run for their lives and some were injured.
Now I'm wondering if they even allow people to go to the very top any more.

Thanks for visiting.  For more ABC Wednesday posts click here.





Thursday, August 03, 2017

ABC Wednesday..."D" as in Crazy Doll Lady??

Welcome to ABC Wednesday and "D" as in Crazy Doll Lady???

Yes, I know I asked you last week if I was perhaps a Crazy Cat Lady.  Now I'd like to know if I'm a Crazy Doll Lady too?  Anyone that's ever stumbled upon my blog know that doll collecting and "playing" is another passion of mine.

I mostly collect the dolls I grew up playing with in the 1950's...the Vogue Company Dolls that were originally made in Medford, MA.  This is my childhood Vogue Ginny doll.  She's the only one that survived my childhood and she's a 1954 painted lash walker.  She's wearing one of the outfits from my childhood too.  She originally had a flip style hairdo which I cut as a child.  I was able to find a replacement wig on eBay and now she has braids.
There are all kinds of collectors.  Many collect what's called the "mint in box" dolls and they can run anywhere from the hundreds to the thousands.  That's not me.  I don't want a doll that has to stay in a box and sit on a shelf.  I'm glad that there are collectors that preserve these dolls, but I want to "play" with my dolls and not be afraid to touch them.

I buy what a friend calls "the previously loved" dolls.  Over the years I've learned to restring them...
and wash and set their hair.
I also collect other Vogue Dolls and some of their friends.  I have quite a few reproduction Vogue Company Dolls that were made up until 2011 or so.

What I really enjoy is setting them up in scenes.  It's fun finding or creating all the accessories for the scenes.  I recently worked on a couple of school scenes.
Recently I was asked how many dolls I owned.  I had never counted and assumed around 100.  I started counting and stopped at 260.  I'm now assuming I have around 300 dolls.  I was a little shocked and probably won't be buying many more.  I do try and keep my dolls set up permanently in scenes or on shelves.  I'm fortunate to have a room just for my dolls.

If you do a google search for "doll hoarding" you'll find this...
I do think there's a fine line between collecting something and hoarding it.  I like to think I haven't crossed that line yet.  This is probably true of most hobbies whether it's baseball cards, comics, etc.

Besides, my love of dolls goes back many years.  I started at a very young age.
That love grew throughout my childhood.
I'm 71 now.  What do you think?  Have I crossed the line yet?

Thanks for visiting.  Please go to ABC Wednesday to visit more alphabet posts.





Thursday, July 27, 2017

ABC Wednesday..."C" as in Crazy Cat Lady?"

Welcome to ABC Wednesday and the letter "C" as in Crazy Cat Lady?

Yes, I asked that as a question.  Am I the Crazy Neighborhood Cat Lady?  Perhaps, but I'll never admit to how many cats currently live here.  All are rescues.  Where I lived previously my home backed up to an apartment complex.  I believe people sometimes moved and left their cats behind.  A feral colony formed nearby and the rest is history.  Most of my current cats wandered into the backyard.  There were also some that I trapped with a humane trap and had fixed and then released.  They were wild and didn't want to stay.

Four years ago I moved and there are no feral cats here.  Thank goodness.  I do not want anymore cats, but I would find it difficult to turn my back on a hungry cat.

I've had many cats over the years and every so often a really special one will come along.  I love all my cats, but I do have a favorite right now.  Meet Blackie...
Not exactly an original name, but she showed up one day and I fed her.  I didn't know if she'd come back and I just called her Blackie for obvious reasons.  Well, the next day she came back with a kitten and I started calling him Baby because he was obviously Blackie's baby.  Here they are today...
That's Baby on the left with the white whiskers.  He's also got white on his paws and under his chin.  Blackie has a tiny white spot here and there on her coat.

Blackie is my favorite cat and the rest of them all know it.  I tell them all the time.  She is no trouble at all and just as sweet as can be.

When they first showed up they lived outside.  I already had cats in the house and didn't plan on adding anymore to the mix.  I had them both fixed so there would be no more kittens.  They had the garage for shelter but spent most of the day in the backyard.  Blackie would stay on the deck right by the backdoor waiting for me to come out.  She never ventured very far from the door.  If I came out she followed me around the yard.  She always wanted to be held and would purr up a storm.   Finally, I had to bring them inside.  Blackie was so special and really wanted to come in.  Neither ever wanted to go outside again. 

In the first picture Blackie has one of her toys.  She sometimes carries them around and meows like crazy.  Yes, she's on the kitchen island.  I decided to give the cats the island in order to keep them off the kitchen counters.  It kind of works.  We never use the island for anything else.

In the second picture they're cuddled up together in a cat bed on the couch.

So what do you think?  Am I the Crazy Neighborhood Cat Lady like one of my sons claims?

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

ABC Wednesday..."B" as in Bucket List

Welcome to ABC Wednesday and the letter "B" as in BUCKET LIST.
 I have had three things on my BUCKET LIST for many years.  I actually have more than three, but these three have been on my list the longest.

More than ten years ago I went to see a movie at a theater here in Houston.  I no longer remember the name of the movie, but I do remember one of the pre-movie ads.  It was all about a blueberry festival in August.  It gave the name of the town, but not the state.  I knew right away it couldn't be in Texas because our blueberry season is over in June.  When I got home I googled "Machias Blueberry Festival" and discovered it was in Maine.  Obviously, the ad was sent to our movie theater in error.  It never mentioned the state, so I assume the ad was meant for movie theaters in Maine.  I checked out the website and have wanted to go ever since.  I love blueberries and a state with lobster would be another plus.  I enjoy parades, pie eating contests, vendors, etc.  In case  you're interested this year's festival is August 18, 19, and 20.

Another place I've always wanted to visit (and really #1 on my list) is The Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.  I just love Norman Rockwell's work.  His paintings always tell a story.  When I was growing up in New Jersey my Dad would take the train to work in New York City.  He always picked up the Saturday Evening Post to read on the train.  Often something done by Norman Rockwell was on the cover and I would study every detail closely.  To visit the museum and see lots of his work up close would be a dream come true.
 Around 20+ years ago a traveling exhibit of his work came to Houston.  There was a special display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  I did find it a little strange at the time that the display wasn't at the art museum, but I went down to see it one morning.  It was work that Rockwell had done for the Boy Scouts.  As I walked into the room a few people were leaving.  After that it was just me and the security guard.  I was able to take my time and study each piece carefully.  They were all behind a roped off area and I was having a little trouble seeing, so the guard told me it would be OK if I ducked under the rope.  I'm sure he wasn't suppose to let anyone do that, but I was thrilled.

I have some prints of Rockwell's work hanging in my home.  I've also collected some Rockwell plates and figurines.  Most I've found at estate sales or antique malls.  At Christmas I have a Norman Rockwell Christmas village.  It's the main street of Stockbridge and there is even a figure of Norman Rockwell.
 This is one of the prints I have hanging over the fireplace.  It's my favorite Rockwell piece.  It's called "The Problem We All Live With." 
I like the way Mr. Rockwell showed this innocent child surrounded by hate.  You can see the smashed tomatoes and the word that's written on the wall.  She's being escorted to school by U.S. marshals, but you don't see their faces.  You have to look at the innocent child.  This was when 6 year old Ruby Bridges integrated an elementary school in New Orleans, LA in 1960. It appeared on the cover of Look Magazine in 1964.  I wish this kind of hate was gone forever, but sadly it's still with us.  I believe hate has taken on a life of its own on the Internet and I find that so sad.  I wonder what Rockwell would be painting if he were alive today?

The third thing on my bucket list is to go to the very top of Mt. Etna in Sicily.  I will try and remember to write about Mt. Etna when we get to the letter  E.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

ABC Wednesday - Letter A


I thought I'd join in with ABC Wednesday this go around.  I know I'm writing this on Thursday so please forgive me.  I like to think better late than never...right?

Alligators immediately came to mind when I thought of the letter A.  I find them fascinating.  My favorite place to visit alligators in Texas is at Brazos Bend State Park.  It's about an hour from here and my son and I went hiking there 6 or 7 times this past Spring.  It's too hot now.  I think I heard them say on the news this morning that the "feel like" temperature is 109 today.  That's with the temperature and the humidity factored together.  I probably won't get back to Brazos Bend until mid to late October when it finally cools off a little.  I'm getting too old to hike in the heat.

We like to hike around the lakes and keep an eye out for alligators. They come in all sizes.  My son took these photographs.
We even spotted some babies.  I believe these were probably a couple of years old.
Thanks for letting me join your party.  I'm hoping this way I'll stay on track and post at least weekly for 26 weeks.