Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Let's Go Phillies!

We went to the Phillies game tonight, just Rachel, Fred and me. They played the Houston Astros, and a win for the Phillies would cinch a playoff spot and the National League East Championship.

This and crab fries from Chickies and Pete's was pretty much my dinner. We need to plan better next time we go to a game. I forgot how expensive everything is! $4.25 for a bottle of Coke!

Houston had the bases loaded in this shot. I think it was near the beginning of the game, and I think there were already two outs. The rally towels were out, hoping to get the third out before any runs get in.
This is the big Liberty Bell that lights up and rocks back and forth when the Phils hit a home run.
Raul Ibanez....he was the only one to light up the Liberty Bell tonight.

The rally towels came out once more in the top of the ninth inning and the Phillies beat the Astros 10-3. Fireworks were set off to celebrate the NL East Championship.And the team celebrated at first base, where the last out of the night was made.
It was a great game and a fun night.
And I almost forgot! We were on TV. Our seats were right next to one of the cameramen, and he recognized Fred and put us on. The funniest thing was the Phillies weren't playing too well before that, and after we were on, they scored a bunch of runs! Of course, being the airhead I am, I forgot to set the DVR to record the game, so we didn't get to see ourselves. Oh well, what can you do!?!?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hersheypark Happy!

Last weekend we took Rachel and her friend Emily to Hersheypark. We've been wanting to go all summer, but there was so much going on this summer we just didn't have time. Until now. We picked Emily up at 9:00 and hoped to be in the park by noon, but with the Schuylkill Expressway traffic, you just never know. We've been stuck on the Expressway and been as much as an hour late to where we're going. Fortunately this time there was just a little bit of construction traffic and, even with dropping Ferris off at Fred's parents' house, we were in the park by 12:15. And stayed until almost 10 p.m. We had beautiful weather and so much fun. I just love Hersheypark. It takes me back to when I was a kid and Grandma used to take me and Eileen there. In fact, at one point Rachel and Emily were running ahead of us and it totally reminded me of me and Eileen.
This is the Great Bear roller coaster. We rode this baby twice. All four of us loved it.

Rachel and Emily rode the Scrambler while Fred and I watched.
Riding the Skyview. Earlier in the day when we walked under the Skyview, someone on the ride had been dropping popcorn onto people below. When we were waiting in line Rachel and Emily asked for popcorn. Yeah, that wasn't happening.
The giant swings. One of my all-time favorites. But I got really dizzy this time. I must be getting old. Or maybe it was because I was turned around taking pictures of the girls. Yeah, that's it.
Overall shot of Hersheypark from the Kissing Tower. If you click on the picture you can see it bigger. Rachel loves the Storm Runner roller coaster. It shoots you out of the starting gate at about 72 mph. and then you go up the big hill and straight down at 90 degrees. Fred rode that with her. I rode Fahrenheit with her. Oh. My. Gosh. We rode it after dark, and it takes you straight up in the air at 90 degrees. All we saw going up were the stars in the sky. Then you go down. The drop is 97 degrees. Yes, more than a 90 degree drop. I screamed the entire ride. What insane person designs these rides!?!??! It was fun, though. I'd ride it again. Maybe I'd scream fewer obscenities next time.
This ride I won't ride again. This is the Wildcat. It's one of several wooden roller coasters at Hersheypark. This was the first ride we rode that day, and I had a nagging headache the rest of the day because of it. Don't get me wrong, I love wooden roller coasters, and this one was great until the end. There are a couple little bumps and jerks at the end that just killed my neck. I know jerky rides will do that, but I thought this one would be okay. I was wrong.
Even with a little nagging headache, we had a great day. It was so much fun, and we're hoping to go back in December for Christmas Candylane. We try to go to that every year. It's so pretty with all the lights. I just love Hershey, both the park and the chocolate!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Closing the Pool

We closed the pool for the winter today.
First thing is vacuuming it really good and testing the water. Ours was a little low in pH, so we increased that.
Then you add the winterizer. Then you realize you were supposed to lower the water level and get mad because half the winterizer was probably wasted when you finally did lower the water to the appropriate level.
Then, because the pool is taking a nap for seven or eight months, you give it a pillow. Actually the pillow will keep the cover up and hopefully any rainwater that accumulates will drain off the sides.
Then you make your husband crawl under the deck to clip the cover on. Under the deck is where all the nasty spiders go during the day, and there's NO way I was going under there. What is up with all the spiders this fall?? There seem to be so many more than usual. They give me the heebie jeebies something awful. Ever since that giant wolf or wood spider or whatever the giant hairy thing was that got into my house in Florida, I have been terrified of them. HATE them. They make my skin crawl.
Anyway, now the pool is closed until next April/May and I'm sad. I love fall and winter, but it's so much prettier to look out my kitchen window and see the pretty blue of the pool than to see they yucky cover that gets dirtier and dirtier as the winter goes on.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back to School Night

Fred and I went to Rachel's school for Back to School Night. This is her desk. I asked her if she cleaned it because she knew we were coming. She told me she always keeps it clean. The book on top of her desk is is their "Author's Pad," which they use for writing assignments. It cracks me up that she has a big Harrod's logo on the front. On the back she has pictures of Ferris, the Ningdu orphanage, the orphanage director, an Aeropostale logo and a few other little things. The remote control is a responder they use in classroom. Questions are put on the overhead projector and the students enter their answers. So far she is enjoying fifth grade. Let's hope it continues for the entire school year!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Why We Went To London

This is a photo of my grandfather from the book that my dad donated to the library in Kew/Richmond. Grandpa served with the U.S. Army's 660th Engineers Topographical Battalion, B Company, which during World War II was stationed in Kew, London, England. The United Kingdom's National Archives now sits on the same location where the 660th served. B Company's work was photomapping. They made maps of France from aerial photographs in preparation for the invasion of Normandy. The first U.S. soldiers arrived at Kew in September 1942 and the last ones left in October of 1944.
In January 1945 the site became home to former Italian prisoners of war. After Italy became an ally, the Italians helped to rebuild bombed locations in London while waiting to be repatriated.
Ruskin Avenue and the Second World War
"The land on which these buildings stand was originally called Kew Meadows. In 1916 a large, single-story complex was built here to house the Claims and Records Office of the Ministry of Labour. It was evacuated in 1939, just after the start of the war.

In November 1942, an American Topographical Battalion moved in. Their job was to turn aerial photographs of Northern France and the Normandy beaches into detailed maps for use in the D-Day landings in June 1944. Millions of maps were printed.
The American soldiers also took part in training exercises and marched in Richmond parades supporting war bond sales. The soldiers enjoyed fraternizing with Kew residents and several took local British brides home to the United States.

Despite numerous air raid warnings, the building on the site only once took a direct hit from a V-1 rocket. Three men were killed.

In the autumn of 1944, the Americans moved to France. Early the next year, they were replaced by an Italian Labour Italian, created from former prisoners of war. The men worked clearing London bomb sites until they were repatriated in 1946.
A handful of German prisoners of war were later held here for a short period. "

This is the way the site looks now. This site sits at the end of Ruskin Avenue in Kew.
There were at least 100 people present for the unveiling of the plaque, many of them local residents. A fair number of them were probably living there during the war.
Including these two folks on the right standing with my dad. They were children during the war and were present at a Christmas party thrown for local children by the 660th. The book they're holding is the present the soldiers gave this woman.
The woman on the far left was a resident there during the war. In fact, she fell in love with one of the Italian POWs. Two years after he was repatriated back to Italy, he came back to London and married her. How romantic is that?!?!?! Their daughter unveiled the plaque with my dad.

Sadly, my grandfather passed away October of 1993, before I had any kind of appreciation whatsoever of history. I wish I had asked him more about his time serving in the war. I miss him every day, and I'm grateful I was able to see where he spent his time during the War and learn a little bit about his life there.

Garden Visitors

More London and China pictures to come, but first, I found some of these little guys in my parsley this weekend. I've waited all summer for them to appear, and was beginning to think, because I planted flat-leaf parsley instead of curly, that they wouldn't come at all. But finally they're here, about ten of them, and soon they'll be beautiful swallowtail butterflies.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Buckingham Palace & Changing of the Guard

This is Rachel and Fred standing in front of the main gates to Buckingham Palace on the day we arrived in London. We had arrived at Heathrow around 6:15 a.m. When we got to our hotel we were able to check in, but our rooms weren't ready. So we drug our tired bodies to, where else, Buckingham Palace. We walked through Hyde Park to get there. It was a pretty walk, and we had great weather. We actually had wonderful weather the entire time we were in London. Blue skies and sunny.
I love the uniforms of the Palace guards, with their big furry hats. I always wonder how much the hats weigh. In September, the changing of the guards ceremony happens every other day. This was not one of those days.
This was. This is the crowd starting to gather outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday, 9/12. We got here about an hour before the ceremony was to start, and I'm glad we did. We had a heck of a time getting there, though. The Underground closes several of its stops and/or lines on weekends for construction. I had had our route planned out ahead of time....Jubilee Line south from Bond Street, one stop to Green Park. Then we would walk through the park to the Palace. We got to the Bond Street station and found out the Jubilee line wasn't running between those stops. So we took the Central line east one stop to Oxford Circus, where I thought we could pick up the Victoria Line to Green Park. Victoria Line wasn't running either. So I pulled out my map of London and we started walking. We hadn't gone that far out of the way, so it was no big deal, and we made it in time to get a good spot along the curb.
And we waited at that spot for about an hour. It was interesting, though. Lots of people watching to be done.
It was funny when these two palace guards walked by, because a lot of people were walking alongside of them while someone else would run ahead to get their pictures with the guards.
Finally it started. The first band that appeared went into the gate that was down farther to our left. This band came right past us.
After the two bands and the different units were inside the gate, we had more waiting to do while the actual changing of the guard took place. Only people who were right along the gate were able to see what was going on.
This police officer was very nice, but his poor horse seemed sad. Every time it went by us his head was down like this. The horse's name is Lincoln. When I commented that that's a nice name, the officer said "after our city," meaning NOT after our president, which made me laugh.
Then they opened the main gates, which were right in front of us. I noticed when they closed the gate back up, the guard used an actual key in the lock on the gate, which struck me as kind of funny. Huge palace, huge gates, and a huge skeleton key to lock everything up.
The bands came out first.
Then these handsome fellas. With their really big weapons. These guards went to the left.
These went to the right.
And then we headed for Richmond and Kew.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Richmond & Kew

On our last full day in London we rode the Underground back out to Richmond and Kew. Dad wanted to pick up a couple more copies of the book Kew at War from the National Archives store. This was the book written partially from Grandpa's maps and books and Dad's research. We also wanted to explore a little more since we were kind of rushed the day of the ceremony.
The top picture is taken looking through the gates of the National Archives down Ruskin Avenue, which my grandfather used to talk about.
This is Burlington Street, which Ruskin Avenue runs into. This street was frequented by US soldiers stationed at Kew. I'm not sure if the brothel that was here at the time had anything to do it. ;-)
We at lunch in Richmond, at the Pitcher and Piano, which I guess was a pub. It had pub food, but didn't look like most pubs. We sat on the patio outside under the big umbrellas. This is on the walkway right outside the Pitcher and the Piano, along the Thames River. It was just beautiful. There was ice cream being sold, row boats to rent and a lot of people enjoying the beautiful weather. This was one of the many shops in Richmond.

For dinner we had 2 metres of pizza! I'm told by Tony's friend, Jean-Carlo that this is the best pizza outside of Italy. I was going to get the risotto, but when I heard the pizza was so good, I had to get that! For large groups, you can order pizza by the metre, and each person gets whatever toppings on it they want. I got funghi pizza, or mushroom pizza. Dad's is in the forefront of the picture, and I'm not sure what it is. Even though we started with fried calamari and some kind of eggplant dish, there were only 2 slices left when we were done, and Jean-Carlo took it home.
This is where we had the 2 metres of pizza.
Rachel got marghareta pizza, which was your basic tomato, mozzarella and basil. I asked her if she liked it. Her response was "No. I love it!" She was happy, because we had Italian food three nights out of the four.