How to View Potential Rather than a Pile of Rubbish

Fascination With Old Buildings

When I visited Hockessin, DE two years ago, the site of the first Catholic Church in Delaware caught my eye as I drove on Lancaster Pike Road. It looked like a pile of rubbish. Old rubbish is so photogenic, so I knew I had to come back before I left town to do a photographic study of it.

However, Pastor Steve Trader from Trinity Community Church saw potential in it that most of us would have overlooked. Today, as you will see, the dreams are coming to life.

The First Church Building

According to one source, in 1772, the Catholic base in the area purchased the 16.5 acres at the order of Father John Lewis, a Jesuit missionary familiar with the area from his mission travels.

pile of rubbish

According to Deleware Online, the first log chapel on the site was built 12 years later beside a hilltop cemetery that remains there today. Probably only the cemetery remains today, but here are two decrepit buildings that stood on or near the property two years ago.

A mystery writer might use this setting for a scene for a murder, a buried treasure, or some ghostly tale. What would you write about this picture?

pile of rubbishFor a time, the property housed the only Catholic church within some 100 miles, according to Joe Lake, president of the Hockessin Historical Society. That would have been a trek for people without modern transportation. Local historians doubted if they attended church weekly.

The Old Barn Ruins in 2016

One sign on the property called these piles of crumbling rubbish the “old barn.” The two signs also confused me because I don’t think of barns and churches pairing up in the same building.

Since childhood, I have loved old barns. My grandfather used large machinery and worked out of their garage. It became the family joke that on every trip through rural Indiana, we played the game, “A New Shop for Grandpa.” It kept my brother and me busy and peaceful pointing out the most decayed buildings we could find along the two-lane highways.

Our family particularly loved the advertising painted on the sides like Eat at Joe’s Get Gas, or Dr. Pierce’s Pleasant Pellets.  This stone barn resembled none of those.

Using my best investigative skills, I noted the candy wrappers and fast food containers on the dirt floor. My weak imagination conjured up pictures of kids playing castle in the pile of rocks. Barnyard animals keeping warm when ten inches of snow pressed against wooden doors and church services were the furthest images from my mind.

pile of rubbish
St. Mary’s First Catholic Church in Delaware

I wondered how anyone could save this pile of rubbish, but the sign said that it was being reconstructed. At the time, I saw no signs of any construction activity except for the yellow caution tape around the entire project. The tape was no more sturdy than the crumbling walls.  Camera in hand, I plowed through the mud and darkening skies, like a reporter onto a big story for the evening news.

Life is no respecter of dried up bones.

The windows and doorways looked beyond repair.

‘This would not be the safest place to stand during an earthquake,” I reported to my imaginary audience.

April 2018 The Old Church Takes Shape

It was 4:30, the start of the golden hours for photographers. The cold April wind bent the trees making them groan as I pulled up my hood and picked my way cautiously across the boggy ground to check out the reconstruction site I had loved two years before.

Shadows of large nearby trees spilled across the cemetery and beckoned me to explore the reconstructed building. How could I resist?

pile of rubbish

 

The Mystery of the Barn Solved

With my limited imagination, I wondered who would turn a church into a barn? It seemed sacrilegious.

It turned out that the Mundy’s purchased the property from the Diocese as farmland in 1912. The Mundy’s maintained the old barn property as a dairy farm until the 1960s. Bill Mundy kept it as a cattle farm into the 1990s. Locals at that time called the property Mundy’s farm. I don’t know what they called it on Tuesday-Sunday.

Between the 1990s and 2010 property managers neglected the property. In 2010 it was burned and vandalized by teens.

Under New Ownership

In 2018 with a sturdy composition roof and completed walls, this edifice looked like it would withstand the winds and the rains. Trinity Community Church, an interdenominational Christian church that holds its roots in the Assemblies of God, plans a multi-use complex on this 16.5-acre parcel.

pile of rubbish

The windows and doorways have been shorn up. They look very tiny now compared to the more expansive stone walls.

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The recycle police would be proud to see the pile of stones that the builders have used to create the new building. The ongoing pile of rubbish still looks like a daunting work to me. But my only tool is an iPhone. Bancroft Construction Company has a few more resources and talent from which to draw.

pile of rubbishAs the afternoon shadows deepened, the headless shadows seemed to raise their arms and praise the Lord. Upside down they looked like headless dancers. Either way, the bid me farewell from the 1880s burial place of locals and Irish immigrants killed in nearby powder mill explosions.

The Diocese of Wilmington still owns the resting place for the heroes of the past. But the future looks lively for the Old St. Mary’s Church, Mundy’s Farm and new Trinity Community Church in Hockessin, Delaware.

Additional Posts About Delaware

 

What You Should Know About Alligators: Instructions at Gatorland

Want some advice about alligators?

#3 Orland0 Florida

Don’t come to me. I’m visiting here in Orlando, Florida with my California neighbors, Carmen and Taliah and friend, Janice from Tennessee. And we’ve come to Gatorland to see and learn about alligators.

GatorlandDo you love Strange Inheritances? This is not Gatorama, but Gatorland is farther north,  18 miles or 30 minutes from Orlando, also a family-owned business.

Gatorland

When to Visit Gatorland

I’ve been to Florida in August, and I don’t recommend it. However, going to Gatorland in March is perfect. There weren’t many mosquitos. The day I wore body lotion, the bugs loved me, but as long as I didn’t smell, the bugs didn’t bother me.

It’s warm in the sun, but walking through the covered pathways is pleasant even in mid-afternoon.

Gatorland

The covers provided some shade to the alligators as well. Unlike dolphins, which you will read about in another post, alligators don’t have sensitive skin. Their black coloring makes them almost invisible in the water.

The next gator would have been tricky to see if he had been cruising underwater.

Gatorland groups gators by age and color. The young ones are first in line.

Bigger than Life

Towards the rear of the walkway lives the Brutus of Gatorland, Chester. Just as I was closing in to take pictures of Chester, Carmen swooped in and shooed us down to the Gator wrestling show, which was well worth the rush. Poor Carmen, she had to mother all of us to keep us on track to see everything.

When we came back, Chester was pooped. Here is Diego Centeno’s YouTube video of Chester.

Real Gator Wrestling

Sure, it’s easy to wrestle a gator if you watch the actor. No sweat. He chose a volunteer to come out on the sandy platform with him to pick out a lazy gator. The youngster refused. So the youngster pointed to a swimming alligator instead of the sleepy sunbathing gators.

Mr. Gator Wrestler grabbed that little gator by the tail and dragged it ashore. Kicking the other gators aside, he began his show.

Gatorland

Miss Gator seemed to be dragging her feet a bit. She was not the shining star that Nicholas is. You’ll see him in another post.

The G-Wrestler asked the crowd to name the most dangerous part of the alligator. Some poor soul shouted, “Tail.”

Probably the respondent was a plant in the audience. Either that or he didn’t watch Mr. G-Wrestler drag Miss Gator out onto the sandy stage.

Mr. G-Wrestler proceeded to show us how easy it was to lose fingers and hands in the G-wrestling business. He somehow pried open the gator’s mouth and withdrew as it snapped shut.

Gatorland

It doesn’t take much pressure to hold a gator’s mouth shut. The trainer held it with his chin. I hope the gator smelled good.

Other Animals that Repulse and Intrigue

The next actors thrilled the audience by letting volunteers participate, usually with their eyes closed at first. The rest of the audience responded with appropriate scared noises, which didn’t seem to bother the volunteers. They had probably checked out someone’s blog post before going to Gatorland and knew what was coming.

Gatorland

You can’t see what he’s putting on her hand. It’s a tarantula.

Gatorland

Taliah’s favorite, though not venomous, was the snake. We saw the same snake curled up in his house, and we could have crawled into the house with him if we had chosen to do so.

Gatorland

White Alligators Are Rare

Three of only twelve leucistic gators exist here at Gatorland.  Apparently, they are not personable.

Gatorland

It was hard to get up close, so I let Taliah take the first shot at him. She got a little annoyed with me taking pictures of her taking pictures, but it was fun watching her quickly manipulate the image with her thumbs before saving it.

GatorlandUp close, he didn’t look too scary since there was a glass wall between us and he had his eyes closed.

Gatorland

Birds Kicked at the Gators

A gator could snap a bird’s leg off in a second, but that fact did not seem to worry any of these feathery creatures. We saw one bird kick her spindly leg at a gator swimming towards her with his mouth open. The gator turned and swam away. That was not the response I expected.

This mutton-headed bird dared to bark orders to the alligators on the feeding deck. Don’t you love its geometric shadow?

Gatorland

Gatorland rated lower than Bloggy Creek but higher than most of the Animal Kingdom on the Entertainment Scale.

Gatorland

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Thrill of a Lifetime: How Novice Kayakers Navigate the Mangrove Tunnel of Doom

Kayakers Achieve Instant Expert Status Upon Successful Exit

It was the perfect day to earn our Kayaking Certificate of Achievement. The weather at Cocoa Beach in March is ideal for kayaking and seeing wildlife. Taliah and her mother, Carmen, grandmother, Janice and I celebrated Taliah’s twelfth birthday with a manatee-dolphin party in the mangroves of the Banana River.

Banana River Kayaking

We paddled along the Banana River with our guide on a balmy 70-degree day hoping to catch a glimpse of some dolphins out fishing. Our guide first spotted a lazy manatee cruising along in the canal through a housing area hoping to find some friendly humans.

Meeting Mr. Man-T

Manatees have a terrible habit of approaching boats and befriending people even if the people come via propeller boats. Their backs bear the scars of such friendships.

Today, Mr. Man-T discovered a kindred spirit in Taliah. When she tickled the water with her fingers, he maneuvered himself in place saddling up to her kayak. Somehow he knew she would pet him. You can see his white propeller scars on his back to the right of Taliah’s hand.

If Carmen moved the boat, Mr. Man-T moved too. Finally, our guide had to tear us away from Mr. Man-T to get into the open waters to see dolphins like the ads promised.

Following the Private-Eye Birds

These birds did not read their pelican briefs and led us astray on our first quest to see dolphins. But other birds ran their operation with more precision. Soon we spotted two dolphins on a fishing expedition.

Banana River Kayaking

The result was that during our two-hour tour, we saw the most dolphins our guide had spotted in his thirty years of dolphin  tours. Once we got on the high seas, there were many more dolphins, but they were farther away and harder to photograph.

While that may be a slight exaggeration, I don’t apologize because he had his “best show in thirty-years” attitude, even if it was just an attitude.

Every time he spotted a group of birds sitting on the dock inspecting the water below his enthusiasm exploded. He would lead us through the water towards the next school of dolphins. We paddled towards them as quickly as we could gliding in gentle circles and S-curves through the water.

Entering the Mangrove Tunnel of Doom

Nearing the two-hour mark, our guide thought he could lose us in the Tunnel. Leading us in single file, we battled the barnacle-covered mangroves slathered with barnacles. In spite of a few false starts and nearly losing a paddle or two to the aggressive water trees, we emerged unscathed.

Exiting the Banana River

By the end of the second hour, my wrists hurt, but my heart was full. Our guide started speeding towards our landing spot just as the sky let loose of the future waters of Banana River.

Banana River Kayaking

Weighed down by all the water, it was all I could do to emerge ungracefully from the kayak without going for a swim in the brackish water. Carmen tried to lend me a hand. After nearly pulling her in, I decided to turn and push myself out using the boat as a solid surface. (That’s funny, by the way!)

No picture (hahaha).

By that time it did not matter how wet I got. If the river below hadn’t soaked me, the river above our heads did an excellent job.

Banana River KayakingWhat fabulous activities on one of your trips gave you the thrill of a lifetime?

Though this isn’t a walk, it is a journey. For more walks/journeys check out:

 

 

Where to Find a Window Wonderland

#NaBloPoMo Day 22,#Delaware trip Longwood Gardens #4 #A Lingering Look at Windows #Monday Windows

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge Week 47: Windows

Grandpa was crippled. All day he reclined by the front window at 1420 N. Denny Avenue staring out at the aging neighborhood. Grandpa rarely talked as my Grandmother kept a constant stream going. He stared out the window.

The tiny window on the left was the living room window.
The tiny window on the left of the little yellow house was the living room window.

The only thing that has changed over the past 60 years is the color of the house and the size of the tree. He must have watched the grass growing.

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today. Dale Carnegie

My mother’s cousin Hal, however, in September 2016, at age 91 and nearly blind, directed me to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA and where we found our Window Wonderland at Longwood Gardens Conservatory. We started our self-guided tour outside. After we passed through the first ivy covered archway, we found a creek with a wrought iron gazebo.

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While the roof structure wasn’t a window, we felt like we were inside looking through a fancy window.

As we meandered by the river, we huffed and puffed past a meadow with some chairs meant for someone else who wanted to sit in the blistering sun. Unable to resist its call to my camera, I started walking towards a many-windowed house at the edge of the meadow under a large leafy tree.  Hal made a beeline for the shady bench.

Did you see Hal waiting on the bench while I went inside to take pictures? The Canopy Cathedral is actually a tree house.

What you really want for yourself is always trying to break through, just as a cooling breeze flows through an open window on a hot day. Your part is to open the windows of your mind. Vernon Howard

Just so you know, even though there was a breeze blowing, it did not bear any semblance of coolness. If you have never been to the midwest and east in the summer and early fall, you may not have experienced 75% humidity.

WJLA in Washington DC explains the sensation.

“For example, if the temperature is 86° and the dew point is 70° it will actually feel like 91°! The reason it feels hotter is because it’s harder for our bodies to cool us off when there is higher humidity. Our bodies use a process of evaporative cooling, so if there’s a lot of water vapor in the atmosphere, it is much harder for our bodies to cool off, as compared to a day when there is less water vapor and lower humidity.

Hold onto your companion’s arm as you watch this next video. As I look at it with objective eyes, it seems like the videographer is a ghost floating through the unoccupied tree cathedral and not me. Turn the sound off, of course, and shut off the lights for added effect.

Sadly, once I got inside the treehouse, it felt like a hothouse and not a spectacular set of windows in a treehouse.

People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

It would be VERY DARK to be in the Canopy Cathedral after sunset. Who knows, the wood used to build the quaint treehouse, gathered from other locations might exude some misplaced spirits. We did not stay to find out.  The mid-afternoon sun was hot, and Hal and I gravitated towards where we might find some air conditioning. I do not remember finding any.

Longwood Conservatory
Longwood Conservatory

This view and added humidity took my breath away. Even with failing eyesight, Hal enjoyed more of life than Grandpa Morris. Longwood Gardens is iconic to this area.

longwood-gardens135

Wherever we looked, we saw views made more spectacular by the windows that framed them.

Windows not only helped the plants.
Windows not only helped the plants.

In spite of the window and the 83-degree day, the room seemed dark. Maybe I felt dark and sad inside after hearing the amazing two concluding minutes of the piano concert!

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After missing the concert, we got lost wandering through the many rooms under the glass roof windows of the gigantic conservatory. Windows in this room filtered the light for these plants. By the way, you can find out the names of all the plants on their website IF you remember which room you were in. hehehe (You knew there would be a catch, didn’t you?)

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The tropical room may have been one of the hottest. You can see that birds have dropped by this room hoping to swoop down to enjoy a bit of banana heaven. I doubt that birds like windows very much.

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I’ll end with this chenille plant. I know you should not shoot into the sunshine, but the sky smiled it’s bluest grin and captured my heart.

Hal made sure I saw every exhibit in the conservatory. Exhaustion made my sandals feel like they had steel weights embedded in the soles by the time we went full circle and exited the conservatory.

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To take part in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge click here.

To post in Dawn’s Lingering Look at Windows click here.

What Makes a Cottage Magical?

#NaBloPoMo #Winterthur#3 #Delawaretrip

The odd-shaped thatched roof?

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Week 46 Roofs

It was morning; through the high window I saw the pure, bright blue of the sky as it hovered cheerfully over the long roofs of the neighboring houses. It too seemed full of joy, as if it had special plans, and had put on its finest clothes for the occasion.                Herman Hesse

On this September day the sky, though blue, filtered through the trees until it became transparent, blending into the enchantment of the forest in the Winterthur Gardens.

I looked for the pictures I remembered taking on that magical day as I strolled with Hal, but they weren’t there. Have you ever had that happen?

You know, you just know, that picture is somewhere, but it’s not.

I am persistent. I found the picture of the medieval English-style roof I wanted to share with you. But it’s a video! Woe is me!

This quick post turned into a two-hour ordeal. I shortened the video (a new skill). Next, I added some beautiful bird sounds chirping after the rain cleared the air that I downloaded for free. Google helped me learn how to erase my own boring intriguing narration which I had already chopped to bits when I cropped the video. Finally, I uploaded it to YouTube.

If you are wondering about the woven branches, I’m not standing on a twig roof shooting this video. Hal and I are standing opposite the enchanted cottage in a gigantic roofless bird’s nest replete with three wooden eggs the shape of king-sized watermelons.

The little box on my YouTube channel tells me that I now have 56 videos. Guess how many followers I have of my YouTube channel?

Back to the thatched roof

Once I finished the video, I learned about thatched roofs. I looked for roof shapes so I could be more precise. After I searched through all the common roof shapes, thatched and cottage finally paired.

Guess what?

Thatched roofs are odd-shaped. Duh! No wonder they are so quaint.

Although they once denoted poverty, the wealthy put thatched roofs on their homes to be more eco-friendly. Did you know that thatched roofs can last up to 50 years? The English used thatched roofs from available resources such as dried vegetation like straw, water reed, sedge, rushes, or heather. Experts contend that thatched roofs do not burn as easily as some roofing materials.

Maybe it’s thatched, and maybe it’s not

This simple Woodlake home looks elegant with a cottage-style roof.

 English cottage style
English cottage style

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So what do you think makes a cottage magical?