Christmas 2018…Just a little late!

2018_12_25__dorsey's new home_0027Christmas wasn’t our typical family gathering this year. We weren’t exchanging presents because we’re all saving up for a special family vacation in July, which will be our gift to each other. On Christmas Eve, we got together for a delicious dinner at Becky and Marty’s house before Bob and I went to the 11 pm service. Alison had announced she would host us on Christmas Day, but there would be conditions!

1) The dress would be casual and comfortable (even pjs if that was our idea of comfortable. 2)Fondue, with both cheese and chocolate for dipping, would be the main course; 3) We could sit around and nibble for hours, on into the evening; and 4) No photography allowed! We enthusiastically agreed! Who wouldn’t agree to chocolate fondue and hours of relaxed nibbling? So on Christmas afternoon we drove out to Alison and Mike’s new home in the country for the first time. It turned out to be both fun and relaxing…and delicious too.

As you would expect, I sneaked a few pictures that I forgot to download to my computer when I got home. Today, however, Gretchen who lives in Arizona and wasn’t here to celebrate with us, asked what happened to the pictures. That was when I realized they were still sitting in my camera on the memory card. I have to admit that is carrying casual a little too far. Sorry Gretchen and other far-away family members!

And, yes, Alison’s “conditions” made for a perfect day! It was definitely comfortable and relaxing, and maybe even the start of a new family tradition.

A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!
~Trail Walker

A family tradition

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On Sunday afternoon, two days before Christmas, two daughters, one granddaughter, and I got together to bake Christmas cookies, a family tradition that for me goes w-a-a-a-y back to when I was a child. Many years ago (mid-20th century), Christmas cards, cookies, caroling for neighbors, and a candlelight worship service on Christmas Eve were traditional holiday events for our family.  Special cookies…huge tins filled with them, provided enough sweet treats for all to enjoy over the holiday visit. My sisters and I, along with our families, would drive back to our parents’ home in southeastern Pennsylvania. There we celebrated Christmas together, singing, worshiping, baking, sharing stories, and more. We were very blessed, and we knew it. It was part of the glue that held our family together, despite the many miles that separated us.

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My childhood home

If that sounds like I’m getting old, I’ll claim the years, and, along with the years, I’ll claim the many warm and wonderful memories…and give thanks for them. Bob and I still exchange holiday cards, attend candlelight service on Christmas Eve, and last week I joined members and friends of our church choir as we went caroling for guests at local nursing homes, giving each guest a teddy bear as evidence of the love we want them to feel.

 

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Choir & friends
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Cathy’s mom with her teddy bears

However, cookie tins filled with special cookies, most of them baked only at Christmas time, was our mother’s tradition, a tradition we had dropped from our busy schedules when our parents passed on, and the family home was sold. Now my sisters are gone and none of our  children live in southeastern Pennsylvania. I am left with the precious memories of those Christmas trips to southeastern Pennsylvania and a few niggling questions:

Why did we ever stop our Christmas baking? Overly diet conscious? Busy lives? Too much shopping and wrapping? Mixed up priorities?  Whatever were we thinking? A revival of the tins-full-of-cookies-tradition was long overdue! Two years ago, Becky and Alison decided to revive it, and this week we all had a wonderful time during our second annual cookie baking session, and, as a bonus, we each went home with a tin of cookies! Granddaughter Emmy was the force behind this year’s baking session, and her Aunt Becky provided the kitchen, as well as the two dogs who kept their eyes (and noses) on the proceedings. I had a great time taking photos. Take a look!

Do you have a special holiday-time tradition? One that is the glue that holds you and your family and friends together? If you do, please tell us about it in the comments, but if your special tradition needs a revival, I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
~Trail Walker

The years fly by!

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Today’s blog post is the oldest in a series of three visits to Overlook Park on Lake Erie. The first in the series was posted just last week. The second goes back to a summer evening in 2013, and today’s pictures were taken on May 5, 2011. One park but three different occasions. Here are a few more family shots taken during the May visit. Included in the picture are two daughters, one son-in-law, four grandchildren, and Bob. We were out for family pizza night at a restaurant near the park, and I talked them into a little photoshoot.

That’s it for my posts in this series. I had fun “mining” my photo archives, but this particular series is all mined out, unless I return some day for another photoshoot in Overlook Park. My message to you is to give it a try. If you have built up a sizable collection of photos, consider mining it for some themes and create a series. You just might enjoy it!

Thanks for stopping by today.
See you soon!
Trail Walker

More memorable moments

My family then, then and now…# 2 in an ongoing series

On a rainy day in late November,  I went to Holden Arboretum for a photoshoot with two of our grandchildren, Michael and Emmy. A few days later, I created a blog post using the pictures from the photoshoot, along with pictures of them when they were about four and five years old. I titled it “A Fun Photoshoot.” If you missed it, you can see that blog post here.  At the time, I saw it as the beginning of a series titled My family: then and now.

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Michael and Emmy…2016

Now fast forward to today…

For about a month I have been working on my SmugMug website, bringing it up-to-date. I have seriously neglected it, so it truly needs more than a little reorganizing and updating. As I was working on that project today, searching my years of accumulated photos for snowy day pictures to use in a winter-themed gallery I want to create, I rediscovered these long ago photos of Michael, Emmy, and their cousins on the sledding hill in Chagrin River Park.

 

The discovery stopped me in my tracks and detoured me down a different trail. After a brief , “Aww, weren’t they cute” moment, I jumped into creating today’s blog post, “Number 2” in the series I mentioned above. When I come across old family pictures, my parents, sisters, children and grandchildren, I can easily lose myself in reminiscing. Many memorable moments come to mind, and I enjoy every minute of those detours.

And that brings me to the purpose of today’s post. Plain and simple, I would like to encourage you to set aside some time to dig into your photo archives. Until you do, you’ll never know what trails they will lead you down. Get out the old photo albums or that big box filled with snapshots (that hopefully someone has labeled with names and dates 😊 ) and have fun with them. I can’t think of a better snowy day project!

Thanks for joining me on the trail today. If you’ve had similar photo detour experiences, I would love to hear about them in the comments. If you dig into those old photo archives, have fun! I hope you’ll come back and share some of your memorable moments.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

 

 

Soup for Supper

An invitation from my daughter to “Come over this afternoon and make some chicken soup”; a whole chicken simmering for hours until the stock was rich and well seasoned; plenty of chopped fresh vegetables; and a dollop of patience…That’s what it took to make a large pot of savory soup.


Believe it or not, my first venture into making soup, but probably not my last. As I climbed into the car and headed for home with my share of the soup, Becky said, “Next time we’ll make vegetable beef.”

This post was created entirely with my iPhone 6+ for cellpic Sunday.

Baking Christmas cookies

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Baking cookies (and eating them) is a time-honored tradition in our home during the holiday season. What would the holiday be like without tons of cookies stored in tins, waiting to be consumed by family and friends? That at least was my mother’s conviction when preparing for the holiday. She was fortunate to have a large pantry off the kitchen with enough space for many cookie tins. During the weeks preceding Christmas, in anticipation of family and friends descending on her kitchen, she would marshal her baking supplies, fill the pantry and refrigerator with fresh ingredients, and rally some friends to help her with a big baking blitz.

This year, my daughters Becky and Alison decided to carry on the tradition, and Becky, Alison, granddaughter Emmy, and I gathered at Becky’s home the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and said, “Let the baking commence!”  Guaranteed to make a cookie-lover drool, here are a few pictures of the bake-a-thon.

Max, one of the resident dogs, was not too happy to be restricted to his kennel in the corner of the kitchen, where he could only observe the fun. His expression says that he would much rather be “helping.”

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Why can’t I help?
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When do I get to taste a cookie?

An occasional glance out the window convinced us that this was the perfect day to be indoors, enjoying the scent of freshly baked cookies seasoned with conversation, laughter, and fun: essential ingredients for baking cookies to share with the people you love.

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Outside, Lake Erie was chilly and dreary.

That’s it for this memory-making holiday event. It would have been extra fun to have our third daughter and other grandchildren join us, but they all live too far away to pop in for a Saturday afternoon baking session.

Thank you for popping in though.
Sharing the fun makes it extra special.
See you soon.
Trail Walker
PS: No trail walking was done today!

A fun photoshoot

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The golden willow in Lotus Pond on this drizzly November day.

Two of our grandchildren, Michael and Emmy, siblings as Emmy described them today, are home from college for the holiday weekend.  After our family Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, I asked if they would be interested in visiting the Arboretum today for a little photoshoot. They agreed, so off we went this afternoon.

My goal was to replicate a photo I had taken of them fourteen plus years ago when their mother and I took them to the Arboretum. That beautiful spring day in 2002 they were about four and five years old  and the weather was perfect for playing around Blueberry Pond. Today’s weather was  drizzly  and only a couple degrees above 40,  but we proceeded with our plan anyway, and we had a lot of fun. Here are the pictures:

Michael, Emmy, and me in 2002

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Michael and Emmy today

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If the ground hadn’t been so soggy today, I was thinking of taking their picture on the little footbridge at the bottom of the hill. When I got home this evening and started digging through my old picture files, I wished I had gone through with the plan, despite the mud and slippery leaves, because…

Here are Michael and Emmy on the footbridge in 2002

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And here they are today overlooking the Butterfly Garden

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I can’t believe it has been over 14 years since that May day in 2002. Time flies by way too quickly; places change and people change also, especially children. Blink your eyes, turn around once or twice, and they are no longer little children. This is why I enjoy photography so much and treasure the pictures I have collected over the years. On this post-Thanksgiving day, they, the children and the pictures, mean the world to me.

Thanks, Michael and Emmy, for visiting the Arboretum with me today. It was cold and a little wet, but I had a wonderful time!  -Grandma

And thanks, blog friends, for coming along!
Trail Walker

P.S. I’m thinking I see a future series of blog posts. All I have to do is get the other grandchildren back to Ohio and take them to the Arboretum for a photoshoot. That might take a while, but I’ll file it in the back of my mind and maybe someday it will happen.

Saturday is spelled e-r-r-a-n-d-s!

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Apple tree laden with ripe fruit

The thought of Saturday errands probably has a familiar ring to anyone who works from 9-5 or even longer on Monday through Friday. That’s not the case for me because I retired from the work-a-day world many years ago; however, habits die hard, and it seems like Bob and I often find ourselves out and about running errands on Saturday mornings. This being Saturday, we were occupied with e-r-r-a-n-d-s.

  • First we went to Wild Birds Unlimited to pick up “no mess seed” for the bird buffet in our back yard.
  • Next stop was Lowes to get supplies for one of Bob’s projects.
  • We went to the Willoughby outdoor market to stock up on produce.
  • Our next stop was Patterson’s Fruit Farm where we picked up pears, apple butter, and apple dumplings. 😋
  • We visited Sage’s Fruit Farm to get peaches because nobody else had them (This was a good year for apples but a bad year for peaches in northeast Ohio).
  • …and our last errand was to our daughter’s house to give the dogs a run in the back yard because Mike and Alison were gone all day.

When we finally pulled into our driveway several hours later, it was past time for lunch, so I warmed up an apple dumpling. Can’t tell you how good that tasted!

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Here’s Mabel, sitting in the sun.
So that was Saturday,
and it was a beautiful day everywhere we went!
See you soon! 
Trail Walker
(Although there really wasn’t much trail walking  done today.)

Cleveland: Westside Market

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A family dinner planned for Monday evening was our incentive for visiting the Westside Market. Located in the Ohio City neighborhood, just a few miles from downtown, it is easy to reach and draws visitors from all over Cleveland, both east and west of the Cuyahoga River. Recognizable from a distance by the tower pictured above, this oldest continuously operated municipally-owned market in Cleveland, opened its doors to shoppers in 1912 as one of three markets that catered to Cleveland’s growing immigrant population. It is the only one of the three remaining in business and is still a great place for shopping.

When our daughter and grandson from Phoenix were visiting last summer, we took them to the market, so when Gretchen visited this year, this time with her husband Rod, the Westside Market was once again on the list of places to see. There are over 100 different vendors in the Market and on our brief walk along the aisles I grabbed pictures of a few of them as we selected the food for our evening meal.

Most vendors don’t mind if I hold up my camera and ask for a photo opp, although one shook his head and turned away. Not to be deterred, I kept on trying, but truthfully I am not happy with the results I got. On my next visit to the market, I plan to take more time and get better pictures.

After we left the market, we headed downtown because we had not been through Cleveland since the visitors to the RNC left town, and we were curious to see what changes had been made. Driving through Playhouse Square I snapped a few pictures of the unique outdoor chandelier hanging over Euclid Avenue.

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Notice the “Go Tribe” message on the front of the bus in the second picture. Win or lose, Cleveland is a real sports town known for its rabid never-say-die fans!

Final note: Of all the items we purchased at the market, including stuffed peppers and more, my favorite was the huge piece of chocolate peanut butter cake that I enjoyed in small servings over the next three days. Yum!

That’s it for this quick tour. Thanks for coming along.
Trail Walker

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