Travel theme: Seasonal

#Delaware Trip Winterthur Gardens #2

A Summer Stroll

In Winterthur Garden visit #1, we visited began our tour in the Enchanted Woods. I arrived in Delaware on September 1, too late for spring flowers, and too early for fall trees. Did I enjoy it anyway?

You bet. I hope you will, too.

“Let’s start at the very beginning…A very good place to start.”

Chandler Farms /Winterthur Gardens

Too Many Choices!

I did not worry about getting lost with all these signs. - I should have!
I did not worry about getting lost with all these signs. – I should have!

Down by the Quarry Garden

On the first day we walked, we headed towards the Quarry Garden. We walked mostly in the shade which meant that we walked for hours in about 75-degree weather. This is heaven for me because it is 75 degrees where I live for about two hours, four days a year.

Down by the quarry
Down by the quarry

We had not walked too far when Hal informed me that when he walked with his young Chinese friends, they took off and left him to take pictures while he checked out the various benches. I was quick to take a hint, and I headed off to the Quarry.

Henry Francis duPont wanted the view kept open forever. It's easy to see why.
Henry Francis duPont wanted the view kept open forever. It’s easy to see why.
Could I be on the yellow brick road? It felt that magical.
Could I be on the yellow brick road? It felt that magical.

As you can see, the gardens were not crowded. We ran into another couple out on their morning walk. A couple of families, thousands of crickets, birds, and other noise makers were there, but other than that we had the entire 1,000 acres to ourselves.


Stones are everywhere in Delaware: streets, houses, churches, fences, and pathways. The quarry must have done a lucrative business. I could not wait to get closer to the stream.


I maneuvered myself along the stone path by the water without falling one time. Since I can fall just standing still, this is quite an accomplishment. I never stand near cliffs or on tall bridges without railings.


Focus on Flowers

Age is not the reason I struggle with names of plants, in fact, names of almost anything. Details escape me. I’m too busy taking in the vista. I hope you’ll forgive me and just enjoy these summer flowers also.


The delicate purple tips fit perfectly on the mild summer day. I traveled light on this trip so I took all these pictures with my iPhone.


The garden was more natural, not groomed like Longwood Gardens. Hal said he would rather have a job here.


The water trickled down the rocks into a larger stream eventually winding down to the quarry lake. As a child, I would have dipped my feet into the water and squished muddy sand in between my toes. I contented myself with admiring flowers.


Time slipped by quickly. I did not worry about Hal. What I really mean is that I forgot about him, but eventually I came back to reality and headed up the hill towards the Enchanted Woods where he waited on a bench watching the kids playing. As I ambled back, every flower along the path called out like a child, “Look at me, Marsha. Take my picture.” So I did.


They did not stay segregated like they were at Longwood Gardens but mingled freely together.


Some of them looked large in the picture but do not be fooled. They were tiny.


If these were children you would rumple their heads, they’re so tiny and sweet. Since they are flowers, I let them be.


As I approached the top of the knoll, I could see Hal enjoying a bench, but I still did not hurry. He seemed to enjoy the fact that it took me so long to get back. We came back for another walk two days later.


Thanks for joining us on our seasonal stroll. Thank you, Hal for such a wonderful day.


Be sure to visit Alisa at “Where’s my backpack?” if you have some seasonal pictures you would like to post.


WP Photo Challenge: Edge

#Delaware trip #Winterthur Gardens#1

Hi, I’m Marsha, sitting on the edge of my seat at the edge of the Enchanted Woods at Winterthur Gardens near Hockessin, DE.

I asked Cousin Hal to snap a picture of me. He got 139 bursts of me. Too many hehehe! Not a bad picture for someone who is nearly blind. 

More than one of the du Pont boys who owned DuPont Chemical Company, where my mother’s cousin Hal worked, loved gardens. We were so glad he did as we meandered the broad path around the gardens for about three hours. Yes, we were lost at times. This map did not help.🙂


Winterthur’s 1,000 acres encompass rolling hills, streams, meadows, and forests. Founder Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) developed an appreciation of nature as a boy that served as the basis for his life’s work in the garden.”

Off the edge of the pathway at a middle point in the 1,000 acres of Winterthur was an Enchanted Woods.


Do you dare to cross the troll bridge?
Do you dare to cross the troll bridge?

Come on chickens. We crossed the troll bridge into the Enchanted Woods. First, let me introduce you to Hal. As some of you already know he’s 91. In his day he engineered hard plastics like you would find in car engines. Although now he is at the losing edge of blindness, he walked three hours guiding me through the gardens at Winterthur. (The blind leading the blind at times)

As we entered the Woods Hal could not resist the first hands-on activity for us kids.

I felt like a kid here. At one edge was a fairy ring. Hal told me not to get too close. But, Hal is blind. What does he know, right?  Who can resist advice like that?

Along the edge of the path was Fairy Ring.
Nothing happened. Did I dare?

I was clearly standing on the edge. What would you do with a sign like that? You can’t read it either, can you? hahaha

Uh oh!

Soon I was covered in a mist that spread through the gardens. Everyone passing by knew I had disobeyed the sign. I hoped these were good fairies.

What happened here. Did the fairies cut down the trees? Maybe the trolls did it.
What happened here. Did the fairies cut down the trees? Maybe the trolls did it.

Here are a few more pictures of the fairy ring. These giant concrete mushrooms trapped several gleeful young children. We could hear laughter and see mist filtering through the trees as we walked around.

Like magic the mist started.
Like magic, the mist started.
Watch out!
Watch out!
Whew! I escaped unharmed.
Whew! I escaped unharmed, but those little spirits chased me for a while.

Lucky for me I run fast! :) That’s it for now. More later.

Did you enjoy your short tour? Did I keep you on the edge of your seat?

For more edgy stories click below.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

How to Tour Longwood Gardens Like an Expert

#Delaware trip Longwood Gardens #1

I love to walk. Hal, age 91, and I walked for two hours through Winterthur and met a couple who walked there often.

“We walk here and at Longwood Gardens,” they told us.


“Where’s that?” I asked. My mental wheels turned.

“Kennett Square, PA about 15 minutes from here.”

“You’ve never been to Longwood Gardens when you visited before?” Hal sounded incredulous that he could have overlooked something as iconic as visiting Longwood Gardens.

“Never heard of it.”

“Everyone goes to Longwood Gardens. We need to go.”



After years of practicing touring every kind of museum under the sun, the best advice I can give you about touring like an expert is never to think you are an expert. Make comparisons, guesses, then check your facts. If you know you are going somewhere, you can check your facts first, but you’ll probably forget them because you don’t need to know them yet. I love to go in green and come out with more expertise than when I went in.

That being said, you are going to become more of an expert about Longwood Gardens that I was, and can build on the knowledge you gain here.

The Outdoor Gardens at Longwood Gardens.


We arrived at about 11:30, and unlike Winterthur, there were no shady areas in which to walk. The sun warmed us and the water features added humidity to the air.



Pierre du Pont enjoyed water. We came across a lake across from the Italian Water Gardens. Framing the picture on the right is the column of a gazebo. Unless you happen to be a frog, you would not want to jump in and swim in this lake. If you do, you will look like a frog when you come out.


I stood inside the lakeside gazebo to photograph Hal looking at the lake.


What impressed me most about this gazebo was the ceiling’s intricate pattern. Pierre du Pont designed his own gardens and incorporated much of what he learned on his travels to Italy.


With thousands of plants on thousands of acres, it is a photographer’s paradise. I couldn’t click fast enough.

Longwood Gardens

Hal and I wandered into the garden and through the woods until 2:30. We caught the closing chords of the organ concert in the conservatory.


We did not let much grass grow under our feet, but there was some growing over our heads.


The display of flowers on the grounds outside reminded me of Buchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. There is a lot of stonework here in Delaware and Pennsylvania, but this garden is not built into the rock quarry.


Du Pont created the Italian Water Gardens with the most elaborate water show in the world when it was built in 1925-27. He could time the display, much like they do today at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Overlooking the Italian Water Gardens is a Canopy Cathedral. What attracted me were the windows. It was not as grand as the windows led me to believe, but it is worth the short climb to go inside to look out over the meadow.

Much of the wood for this structure came from reclaimed wood. The floors came from a toothpaste factory in Toronto, Canada.

Follow me as I go upstairs.

Finally, we look through the beautiful window panes onto the meadow and Italian Water Gardens.

I hope you enjoyed your tour today of the Longwood Gardens. I’ll take you to other parts of it in another post. Stay tuned.

Where to Shop Like a Movie Star in Maui

#Cee’s Oddball Challenge

I appreciate creativity but admit that it eludes me.

We drove south from Lahaina to Wailea where movie stars come to Maui and shop at the Shops of Wailea. They close down the mall when someone famous and sensitive come to shop. Nothing is cheap here. Even a little ball of ice cream wrapped in a dough was about $2.00.

It was warm so I sat on the fountain enjoying the tropical breeze with Vince.

Carol Sherritt finished her ice cream, and rushed off, camera around her neck, and began shooting pictures of all the windows.

I must have been blind, I thought to myself. What does she see that I don’t see?

All that to display a purse. I wonder how much it costs.
All that to display a purse! How odd! I wonder how much it costs.

I followed her and started snapping pictures, too, just so I didn’t seem like a stupid travel blogger who did not know what captured people’s interest.

After I watched her excitement I decided that the window was interesting.

What do you think? No, don’t answer that! I’m afraid for you to tell me that I almost missed an opportunity to entertain you.

Cee's OddBall

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Can Photography Mirror Perfection?

Easy Answer

Photographers seek to mirror what they see, so in reality, whatever we photograph mirrors life as we see it. Now to dig deeper into the meaning of mirror.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

When he was a lad of 53, my husband pursued a quest for perfection. After twelve weeks, he achieved it. The card he gave me for Valentine’s Day reflected his pride. The card showed a young lover gazing into his loved one’s eyes. He asked his true love what she thought he could see reflected in her eyes.

(I imagined some romantic images intended to spark a romantic night.)

Inside the card read, “MYSELF…And damn, I look good.”

When this picture fell out of the card, I had to agree.


Had I gazed into his oiled body, I might have seen myself reflected in it, but I doubt that I would have had the same reaction as he did when he looked into “my eyes!” I had not taken the 12-week challenge.🙂

#Longwood Gardens #1

Reflections at Longwood Gardens

My favorite pictures mirror images that evoke emotion, the thrill, and satisfaction of capturing perfection at last for a millisecond.

Longwood Conservatory
Longwood Conservatory

This reflected at the Conservatory of Pierre Samuel du Pont, marked the mid-point of a perfect visit to Longwood Gardens. Pipe organ music just finished playing the background.

Passing through the glass doors Hal and I entered the water-lily space or garden of a million mirrors.

 hardy water lily gardens
hardy water-lily gardens

To be perfectly candid, I did not notice the mirror images until I looked at the Photo Challenge topic for this week when I got home. The sun got into the mirroring act providing a shadow image of one of the lilies.

Volunteer worker dead heads the lilies.
Volunteer worker dead heads the lilies.

While the flower on top is beautiful enough, if you look closely you can see the sky and a tree reflecting what a beautiful day it is in Kennett Square, PA at the Longwood Gardens. Only a couple of places revealed marred perfection. The Tropical Gardens magnified 84 degrees by 100% humidity to produce rivulets of reflecting power on my face, had you been there to gaze into it.

Hal asked me whether I had been to Longwood Gardens before.

When I told him, “No,” he reflected, “What awful tour guide have you had that has neglected this icon of Delaware and Pennsylvania.?”

“No one is perfect, Hal. Even the most dedicated tour guide,” I said mirroring his jocular self-accusation.

This visit was not too late to enjoy the beauty of these gardens mirrored in their watery beds.


It is difficult to discern where the mirroring starts and the underwater growth stops. These three Siamese models are stars of perfection.


Hal told one tourist that she could stand on a lily pad. I’m sure she objected, to his delight.

To prove his point, for Hal likes to be right, he brought along a picture of the young woman he had printed on his computer. True to his promise, she (or rather the picture which mirrored her) stood on the lily pad.

I don’t recommend standing on lily pads for the rest of us. We would surely break the serenity of the water necessary to produce this perfect lily pad reflection. To me, the lily pad looks like the perfect tray for party cupcakes for Alice and her Looking-Glass friends. What do you see reflected here?


Eventually, I will pack my bags and head home to Woodlake, CA. Reflections abound in this classic truck which came to our Woodlake Car Show, even though perfection may be amiss. The mirrors are present, as are the images. Do you see at least two reflections?

If so, please accept the star of Texaco as your reward.

wp-photo-challenge-mirror100Santa must have found of mirror image of that truck somewhere. This cargo vehicle boasts a mirror as well, but the mirror did not alert Santa to the visitor who knocked at his door. I wonder if Big Ben had been the mirror of perfection all year, or possibly he had been a little naughty and was pleading his case? We would have to ask the Three River’s artist, Nadi Spencer, who drew this picture.

wp-photo-challenge-mirror101If you headed up to Three Rivers this spring, you would find water in Kaweah Lake almost up to the road mirroring the hills. Last I heard the water level more accurately reflects our CA drought.

wp-photo-challenge-mirror103Nothing is as beautiful to a Californian than the reflection of a healthy water supply. We live in a beautiful country where every drop of stored water reflects life as well as the beauty you see in the water. Bravo Lake filled this winter.


Bonus reflection – my windshield. My mirror reflects more than just my camera and my beautifully painted red fingernails. It reflects the enormous number of people behind me who come to the Sequoia National Park to reflect on the beauty of our natural resources in America. On Memorial Day the line was five miles long. The line in June when I visited the Park with my brother was shorter.

Thank you to Y. Prior for mentioning me in her blog post on Mirrors.

For more reflections on the word mirror, click here.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016


How to Make Sense of Art

WAIT, this is Cee’s Oddball Challenge.

“How dare you? Art is art. It’s not oddball!”

“Are you talking to me, Radio Man?”

"I make as much sense as that dog of yours."
“I make as much sense as that dog of yours.”

It was a beautiful September day outside in San Jose, though a little warm. I had a few hours to kill before Leanne Cole’s plane came in from Australia. We planned to meet up at Starbucks. I was so excited to finally meet her in person.

I stayed at the Hilton next to the McEnery Convention Center in downtown San Jose. It was less than a half mile so I walked to the Tech Museum of Innovation. but it was closed for remodeling.

Dang! It was closed for remodeling. Sounds like my house.

This old architecture does not fit what's inside. Very oddball!
This beautiful old architecture does not fit what’s inside. Very oddball!

Almost across the street near  the San Jose State University campus on 110 S. Market Street sat the San Jose Museum of Art. It cost $8.00 admission for a senior, which I thought was pretty expensive, but I love museums, so I paid and walked in.

This was weirder than the blue wall in New York that was considered art.
This was weirder than the blue wall in New York that was considered art. This guy is scratching his head, too. Very ODDBALL!

I walked over to Radio Man’s glass case and stared at him trying to convince myself that this was really an art museum. I had just passed the blue room, which was just a room with a room-sized box lit with a blue light. hmmm.

“First of all, art does not HAVE to make sense,” Radio Man instructed me.

“You just don’t want to analyze how beautiful and artistic I am. You’re a lazy aficionado,” he continued.

I looked down and shuffled my feet. I wanted to turn away, but Mom always taught me to compliment people – no matter what. I stood there staring at his shoes and duck beak hands.

“OK, ok! You are shiny. I’ll give you that!”

“I had braces as a child.”

“You need to try Invisalign. Your bite is off.”

“What do you know? Most people like my smile.”

“Looks more like a grit to me.”

“A grit? It’s a smile. Don’t I have pretty eyelashes?”

I am not usually mean to robots. What’s the use? I moved on, nodding that I liked its eyelashes.

I walked around the San Jose Museum of Art looking for something artistic. Radio Man beckoned me back.

“Did you see my dog?”

Radio man's dog.
Radio man’s dog.

I had to admit it was pretty cute. Or maybe I was just getting used to art.

Not as cute as Puppy Girl on a bad hair day, though.

Cee's OddBall

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What to Look for in a Personal Fitness Trainer

Highlighting a Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce Member

At almost 64 years old, I did not think of myself as “out of shape” when I started training with Melissa Bourn almost a year ago. I walked 3-4 miles a day, worked out once-in-awhile with our home gym, and exercised with my husband in the pool during the summer.

Personal Fitness Trainer, Melissa Bourn
Personal Fitness Trainer, Melissa Bourn

Beginning day one of our training sessions, Melissa started by asking us to stand up from a sitting position on the floor. No sweat, right?


“You can’t use your hands.”

‘Whaaaaaa? No hands? Are you kidding me?”

Why is that important, you might ask?

Personal fitness training session with friends
Personal fitness training session with friends

Melissa trains all ages, but even middle-aged to older people are not intimidated by her encouraging manner. One woman in her 70s came to her, not because she wanted to lose weight, or become a dancing grandma, but because she fell in her house and could not get up. She lay there for several hours until someone found her. As someone who falls a lot, that struck a sensitive chord with me.

Why We Chose Melissa’s Gym

Choosing a Gym
Choosing a Gym
  • The gym is behind Melissa’s house in Elderwood, making it handy for us. This saves us nearly an hour of drive time to Visalia per visit.
  • Although Melissa doesn’t have multiple copies of every kind of equipment available on the market, she has every piece of equipment you could imagine needing. My favorite is Bob, a person shaped punching bag. 
  • She also does lots of floor work – meaning equipment optional. This is great because it means when we go home or travel, we can do the same exercises on our own. When I started, I could not do one push up.
  • She is VERY reasonable. She charges only $150 per month and we go to her three days per week. This works out to about $11 per hour session. “According to Dr. Sal Arria, president of NBFE, the average hourly rate for a trainer is $60-$70 per session. However, trainers can charge as low as $25 per hour, while some high-powered trainers earn as much as $15,000 for a six-week session, depending on geographical location and their experience.
  • Along the same line of PERSONAL fitness training, any of you who have gone to a personal trainer know that you might work out with 2-5  people. I used to train in Visalia. They offered an “hour” training – one half-hour of supervised exercises (scheduled with one or two strangers) and one half-hour workout on a cardio machine first. Several years ago that was $250 per month if we paid for six months. Melissa gives us an entire hour of PERSONAL training. I share the hour with my husband (our choice). Best of all we pay month-to-month with no contract.
  • That leads to another benefit. Constantly updating her skills, Melissa varies and tailors the routines for each session. She’s kind of ADHD, but we never get bored. Our bodies never get too used to it either, so every muscle group has to pay attention.
  • Speaking of muscles, since Melissa monitors us carefully, she notices our form. Many years ago when I was working out with a trainer, one of my friends met me at the gym. She watched me for a while. According to my friend, the trainer did not watch, and my form was less than stellar. Melissa pays strict attention to form. “Flex your foot more. Like this. You’re doing this. Move your hands farther apart.” If something is too hard or too easy, Melissa alters it by having us change the way we stand or hold the weight or rope. Nearly microscopic alterations in form make a huge difference in how the exercise works and feels on our bodies.
  • The day after the exercise is nearly as important as the day of. When we started, Melissa would call or text the next day to see how we felt. If we could barely move, she changed the routine so that we did not injure ourselves. She has a basic muscle group plan each day, therefore if several people complain about sore legs she takes it easier the next session on everyone unless we ask to be pushed. After nearly a year, she still asks how we are before we start every session.
  • Communication and concern are Melissa’s fortés. We get texts with at-home exercises, encouraging videos, and diet suggestions.
  • She runs contests. For example, one contest was for people who wanted to lose or gain weight. My husband weighed in, and she took measurements of his arms, chest, and legs – the areas he wanted to work. At the end of the contest, they measured again, and the one with the most overall body changes won. Vince did not win, but he enjoyed doing it and looks forward to the next one which starts in September.
  • Moving from contests with each other, Melissa looks for ways to expand people’s personal best. She put together a group to train and participate in a tough mudder competition. While wallowing in mud does not appeal to me, my husband is very excited about it and has enrolled in the October 8th event in Tulare, CA. We never know what she might come up for us next, but it’s always exciting.
Wall training is another option Melissa offers.
Wall training is another option Melissa offers.


Melissa became a part of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce in May. She’s busy making a difference by offering a service to help keep Woodlakers healthy. There are plenty of places people can go to work out, but her personal care and attention to detail make Melissa’s Gym unique. 



How to Travel Like a Pro

Since when did travel get odd?

  1. Don’t forget essentials. Your bed, an extra blanket, and a couple of toys.

Cee's OddBall Challenge105

2. Double check to make sure that your humans did not forget anything important.

Cee's OddBall Challenge106


“Your food is already in the car, Puppy Girl. Don’t worry.”

Rrrrrr, rarrrf?

“Yes, your water is there, too.


“You just can’t see it. Your leash is in your bed. Now go get in the car.”


What are your travel hints?

Cee's OddBall

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How to Annoy Everyone on facebook

This is one of the funniest posts I’ve seen. Facebook friends, please tell me I don’t do all this stuff!!!


12 Ways guaranteed to frustrate virtual friends

Facebook starting to bore you a bit of late? No problem. Here are some ideas on how to alienate your friends and become a red flag. Adopt one of the following personas and get unfollowed in no time.

1. Be the King of Awesome


Consistently tag yourself in awesome situations, outside of everyone’s reach and reality. Overkill it with your travel photos. Share pictures of the awesome food you eat. Publicly proclaim your love for your better half, who is -of course- equally awesome as you are. Take up the latest trends in everything and share your experience to enlighten the clueless (“Glutten free for 2 weeks now and already feel like a new person”). Don’t neglect to highlight your sensitive side by engaging in some charity (that you can milk to death to further enhance your profile). More importantly: Master the art…

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How I Framed Hal and Manny

#WP Photo Challenge Frame

I’m on my way on Thursday to visit Philadelphia and Delaware to see my mother’s only cousin, Hal. He’s 91 now, and he’s planning our trip to Harper’s Ferry. He’s also anxious that I bring Manny. Hmmmm?

Treed Hal2r

Last time I was there I framed him along with Manny. It wasn’t Manny’s fault he likes to climb trees and Hal had to hold him up to keep him from falling out. Hal acted like he did not object to being framed.

Do you think he wants revenge?

Old Swede Hal1r

Framed again! hahaha, Hal.

Oops, I’d better be careful. He may be older than I am, but he’s a lot bigger – and degrees smarter, but that’s another story.

Since I’m leaving my neck of the woods, I’d love to meet any East Coast friends – who are willing to come somewhere near DE or PA. Any bloggers in the neighborhood? I’d love to meet you.

A friend of mine also told me I need to look up Ben Franklin in Philly while I’m there. Last time I looked up an old relative, Robert Morris. I was too late, He was buried at Christ’s Church. The tour guides let me ring the sister to the liberty bell, though. Very cool.

If you know me, you know I love museums, so I’m sure there are a few of those around.

I’m flying into Philadelphia on September 1st.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016


Have You Ever Had a Bad Hair Day?

Bad hair is not new at Cee’s Oddball Challenge?

“Every day is a bad hair day with me,” you answer, thinking there could be nothing worse when you look in the mirror.

But is it really? This bad?

Do you have BIG see through ears that your hair won’t cover up?

Puppy Girl's normal look.
This is Puppy Girl’s normal look.


This is not a bad hair day!

Cee's OddBall Challenge118

She looks like she uses an electric pitchfork to comb her hair. See it on her ear?

We think she’s the cutest dog ever! But we will admit to odd.

Cee's OddBall

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If you love Puppy Girl, I’m sorry. She’s taken, and she’s fixed so there will never be another one like her.

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In case you missed them, click here.

Oddball Solutions When The Pressures of Life Get Overwhelming

What’s Odd Today at Cee’s Oddball Challenge?

We remodeled our kitchen and put new flooring in our 1930s or 40s something house.

Everything went fine.

I'm starting to feel the pressure.
I’m feeling Ferrell’s  pressure. Between Vince and Ferrell every little oddball thing got fixed. This Russian stacking doll lives in a doll shop in Three Rivers, CA

Seriously, only minor glitches.

Odd Picture Day

Here are some odd shots of the work.

Random, huh?
Random, huh?

No stove for a few days. Here’s what happened.

This little dent cost us about two weeks.
This little dent cost us about two weeks, but the replacement is beautiful.

More on the remodel later. We are getting to know all the oddball things about each other.🙂

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A Must See Oddball Shop Right on the Highway

What’s Odd Today at Cee’s Oddball Challenge?


Have you ever opened the door to a shop and it took your breath away, it was so …. odd?

My friend Sally Pace and I got in her car and drove east on Highway 198 toward the big trees, Sequoia National Park.  Our mission, as we chose to accept it, was selling advertising for Kiwanis magazine, “What’s Happening in the Foothills.”

We’re volunteers, you know.

You can’t keep a volunteer on the straight path without them turning their work into an event.

“Hey, Sally, look here. The Doll’s Nest. Ever been there?”

“It looks like someone’s house.”

“Let’s check it out anyway. If they’re not there, oh well.”

We almost did not open the door. It WAS someone’s house. We heard a little voice inside, “It’s open. Come on in.”

We pushed open the door and sucked in our breath.

Seriously, have you ever seen so many dolls.
Seriously, have you ever seen so many dolls?

Not me!

I’ve never seen so many dolls in my life.

Most, like 99.95% of them, are imported from Russia. Many of them are decades old and were very difficult to get because of international relations between the Soviet Union and the United States.

TR Doll Shop101

Bertha and her sister Marilyn started the Doll’s Nest as a hobby. The name fits the shop perfectly. These nesting dolls nest in their living room. See the little guy at the bottom middle of the picture? That’s my husband with blue eyes.

This little Vince has become my blogging helper.
Little Vince has become my blogging helper.

Little Vince is one of the few dolls who doesn’t nest.

According to Bertha, “nesting dolls are hollow wooden figures, with the top portion of the doll coming off, revealing another figurine.”

The Beetles live here along with other famous figurines.

TR Doll Shop106
John Lennon ranks big among the other stars.

Some of the dolls have their nesting companions laid out beside them like you see with Mr. Walrus. My favorite was the stressed woman whose mood gradually lightened as she thought cheery thoughts.

I'm starting to feel the pressure.
You’ve had days like this, haven’t you? Well, it always gets better.
Didn't I tell you.
Didn’t I tell you? Just listen to that tiny still voice nested inside of you.

Ginny dolls caught my attention on the left side of the shop.

Hi again, Ginny. I remember you from my past.
Hi again, Ginny. I remember you from my past.

Ginny dolls were my favorite dolls when I was seven. Here is why. We had a bond.

I was born with a double harelip or cleft lip. I had to go to the hospital to have my inner lip separated from my gum where it had been sewn when I was born. At age seven, I could smile normally.

No worries, I came out just fine with Ginny by my side.

My smart momma took me shopping to pick out a new doll. We made a day of it.  She took me out to eat at L.S. Ayres & Co. at their fancy rooftop restaurant where we watched a fashion show. I also got some new baby doll pjs.

I was soooo excited to go to the hospital. I know, weird, huh?

The hospital had a huge bright playroom, so Ginny and I went right there as soon as I got there. I could not wait to make new friends and show them my new doll.

Ginny and I together had no fear.

Ginny, you moved to CA, too!
Ginny, you moved to CA, too!

If you guys ever need a place to spark happy memories, drive up to Three Rivers and visit the Doll’s Nest. hehehe

Don’t tell, but my brother loved my dolls, too.

If you are NOT a guy who loves dolls, think of it as pure history. Maybe there is somewhere to sit down and play video games on your phone while you wait.🙂

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Yes, there were more dolls in the dining room.

I hope you enjoyed my trip to the oddball shop.

Cee's OddBall

If you liked this post, PLEASE share it with your friends. If you have a doll-loving friend, you KNOW what to do….

This post has all the clickable links to get back to Cee and see other odd pictures or enter for yourself.

In case you missed them, click here.

Ways to Use Random Pictures Like the Experts

Life is random and a little oddball.

Don’t you think? That’s why I love Cee’s Oddball Challenge.

Where else would you use this?

Meet Farrell Taylor. He remodeled our bathroom, kitchen and everything in between.
Meet Farrell Taylor. He remodeled our bathroom, kitchen and everything in between.

No, Farrell’s not shy. Neither is Steven, his son. He IS a perfectionist, though, and lots of fun.

I did NOT say he was an oddball!

He just can’t stay out of the crawl spaces. Listen up.

"Hey, Vince, look at this."
“Hey, Vince, look at this.”

“This is why this subfloor is bulging and spongy.”

“There’s no support. They just put it over a hole.”

I rushed over to take oddball pictures. Farrell ripped off the subfloor panel and ripped out the insulation. I could see that back in the “good ole days,” builders supported the house foundation with wire.

"Don't worry about it Farrell. We can support it.
“Don’t worry about it, Marsha. We can support it.

It looked like a fiberglass fish swimming in a sea of dust. Can you see the wire?

You can see where the 1940s house met up with the 1990s house. The fish’s support wire is a little harder to see.

They spared no expenses with support materials.
They spared no expenses with support materials.

“Look at this, Vince. They used scrap lumber.”

I tried to get a close-up of the scrappy wood. That’s pretty oddball, don’t you think?


Farrell already had it out the door and into the trash. I had to chase it down to prove to you that things weren’t all they were cracked up to be back in the good ole days.

Steven fished it out of the trash for me. Aren't you impressed?
Steven fished it out of the trash for me. Aren’t you impressed?

Then Farrell began building a new support for the subfloor.

"But wait! Look here Vince. Steven, go cut me two more pieces of lumber."
“But wait! Look here Vince.’

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“They didn’t support the wood floor either,” Vince told me.

Steven cut me two more pieces.
“Steven, go cut me two more pieces of lumber.”

Yep, the wire is still there.

Cutting into Farrell’s back.

Whew! Now he could go back and reattach the frame he started in the first place.

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“Let me have those rusty nails, Farrell.” hehehe (There’s a story behind that private joke.)

He told us about the billionaire who straightened and reused all the old nails he pulled out of one floor.

That’s just one small story. I haven’t even told you all the oddball stories Farrell told us while he worked.

For example, he reminded us not to walk on the new floor. To help us remember he left us this mental picture – the 300-pound woman who walked on the newly glued floor 30 seconds after he told her not to walk on it for 24 hours.

So that’s it for today’s oddball stories.

If you liked this post or Farrell, PLEASE share it with your friends.

If you like Farrell you have to use my name or he won’t call you back. He’s REALLY busy!

This post has all the clickable links to get back to Cee and see other odd pictures or enter for yourself.

In case you missed them, click here.

Where to Have Fun Like a Pilot

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Pretend that you’ve never been to Woodlake, CA. Never even heard of it.

But you want to fly somewhere and have a fantastic breakfast.

You go online. Search for airport cafes. And VOILÁ! There it is!


Frank Holbert from Corona, CA is just like you. He had never heard of Woodlake, CA. Decided to come.

That was in 2008 before it became “THE” pilot’s place to have breakfast and lunch.

Owners Butch Reed and Charlotte Scott
Owners Butch Reed and Charlotte Scott

I wish I could fly. I don’t.

On Sunday my husband and I drove to the Runway Cafe just south of Woodlake at the Airport right after church. We did not beat the crowd.


It did not matter. Charlotte caught my eye over the crowd milling around the cashier’s stand, “Just two today, Marsha? Gottcha!”

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We headed outside and sat at one of the empty picnic tables. Normally we sit out there, but the temperature on Sunday headed towards 108, and HE wanted to sit inside. While we waited we chatted with another couple and pet their large golden retriever.

“I’ve got a Beggin’ Strip for Annie,” Charlotte told them. Annie sniffed around the wood floor for other treats while she waited and we talked.

We did not know the couple before we arrived. They lived in Visalia and came often out to the Runway on the weekends. Like us, they enjoyed the excitement of watching planes and helicopters land.

The only Learjet we ever saw land in the tiny airport.
The only Lear jet we ever saw land in the tiny airport.

Runway Cafe is Woodlake City property. In 2014 when Butch Reed and Charlotte Scott decided to look into leasing it, they had six competitors.

But they got it, and the locals were thrilled. Let the good food roll!

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My favorite is the Turkey Melt with regular fries. My husband loves the Chili Verde Omelette.

One customer said, “It’s a shame! Such good food we pig out!”

Another laughed, “The food was great! Now, we’ve got to find a couch!”

So who comes here, you ask?

We enjoy sitting outside on the porch and watching planes come in.
We enjoy sitting outside on the porch and watching planes come in.

Charlotte said, “We get about 15 pilots on Fridays and Saturdays, 10-25 on Sundays, and a total of about 10 during the rest of the week.”

That’s it? Just pilots?

Motorcycles attract all ages.
Motorcycles, like Runway Cafe, attract all ages.

Butch chimes in, “I’m in the hot rod and bike business. I build bikes from scratch. Bikers know me. We get lots of bikers and hot rod guys. For example, the Five of Diamonds Motor Cycle Club of Tulare. They just had a Run and raised $15,000-$18,000. We like to help out.”

Some Woodlakers come every day. We love the weekends. We always see someone we know when we come.
Some Woodlakers come every day. We love the weekends. We always see someone we know when we come.

Charlotte’s eyes teared as she looked at me.

She said, “I just want everyone in Woodlake to know how much we appreciate them. We are just so grateful”

A large party at the two tables behind us got up to leave. Charlotte stopped our interview briefly to give each person a hug and thank them for coming in.

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Butch sits outside and chats with a guest while he waits for a table.

Butch had a larger vision of “locals” than just Woodlake.

“People drive in from Visalia, Hanford, Porterville, Bakersfield, Reedley – all over. There’s a picture over there in the corner of a couple from Germany. They’ve been here several times.”

I don’t think the German couple is local even if they’ve been here more than once!

Pictures line the walls. Most are of guests who come by plane. One morning when my husband and I came for breakfast Charlotte wanted her picture taken with the pilot and crew. Volunteering to hold the camera, I rushed out with the crew to take the pictures. Charlotte was so busy, she never made it to the picture.

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The pilot offered to fly me to Visalia with them. Breakfast was waiting for me. Should I stay or should I go?

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There was room for me. It would only take 4 minutes to get to Visalia. Hmmmm

I hadn’t said anything to my husband about going. I would miss my great breakfast.

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I wished them well and ran back to eat my delicious breakfast.

Butch is so grateful to have the Cafe and the opportunity to serve coffee that he drives to Runway Café at 4:30 AM and works until 7:00 AM. Then he goes back to his Transmission Shop in Visalia and works there. Retirement is not in his vocabulary. Workaholic is.

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“I went into partnership with Charlotte because she is the hardest working woman I know. And she’s honest.”

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She’s the friendliest person I know. Everyone else follows her example.

First owner of the cafe.
First owner of the cafe.

Runway Cafe started 40 years ago as Woodlake Outpost Cafe under the ownership of Velma Dearmore. Dora, who owns Dora’s restaurant in Woodlake, had it for a while then Sherry Foreman from the Exeter Whistle Shop ran it after that. It sat empty for a few months. Finally, Butch and Charlotte started running it December 20, 2014. Yelp has given them a 5-star rating, in case you are wondering.


Charlotte, Kelly, Butch in front, Brandon Edmonds, Steve Ferris, Ricardo Bonilla and Charnae Edmonds are in back.
Charlotte, Kelly, Butch in front, Brandon, Steve, Ray , Ricardo, and Charnae are in back.

Charlotte said, “We are a team. Owners in other places I’ve worked asked the workers to do things they wouldn’t do. We don’t do that here. I’ve cleaned the grease trap, bathrooms, mopped, swept,, washed dishes, cooked – not as good as Brandon Edmonds, Steve Ferris and Ricardo Bonilla, but I do it. And yes, they are all local.”

Kelly Mittel, one of the waitresses who used to work with Charlotte and her daughter, Charnae Edmonds, left there and came to work at the Runway Cafe. She never regretted her decision.

Kelly said, “You can be yourself here. No uniform. It’s like family here.”

Charnae, Charlette, Kelly work like a well-oiled team.
Charnae, Charlotte, Kelly work like a well-oiled team.

Runway Café supports the community in many ways. Of course, they donate to many causes. Since there is so much foot traffic, it is a favorite place to hang banners and flyers for community activities. They sell the book I wrote, Images of America Woodlake, the proceeds of which go to the Woodlake High School Foundation.

But mostly, they serve good food in huge portions for about $9.00 on average.

Butch's bucket list - to own a coffee shop and serve coffee.

“It makes me happy to know that I’ve done something for Woodlake. I’ve helped it to become better known.” Butch said.

In addition to the regular German couple, people from as far away as New Zealand, and Australia have found their way to Runway Cafe for their delicious specials: fish and chips on Fridays, taco salad on Wednesday, and chile verde on Sundays. Other customer favorites include chicken fried steak, sausage patties, and omelets. I like their peach cobbler. Go figure!

If you are flying or driving into town on Fridays or Saturday, Butch and Charlotte invite you to visit the Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum and the Woodlake Botanical Gardens after breakfast or lunch.

If you haven’t tried the Runway Cafe yet. Fly in, bike in, drive or walk from town and try it out 6:30-2:00 seven days a week. You can’t miss! And you will make some new friends.

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Do you have a favorite diner at a small airport?

Please share if you love Runway Cafe.




Narrow Escape Through the Stout Trees

The narrow road through the stout trees should have alerted us that the final challenge would narrow down ever further.

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Sure enough. It did. Such a narrow passage, we had to fold in our mirrors.Klamath Canon260

If you are planning a trip to the Redwoods, the Northern California or  Southern Oregon coast, you might be interested in more pictures of our road trip three years ago. To read about our Accidental Vacation click any of the links below. What started as a disaster ended up to be one of our favorite trips.

For hundreds of narrow views, click the icon below.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016


7 Cherry on the Sundae Moments in 2016 – So Far!

#WP Photo Challenge

Cherries, sweet goodness, the joys and best of life

If the cherry is on top, all’s well that ends well, right? Life is a bowl of cherries. That is this week’s photo challenge, “cherry on top.” I tried to cherry pick the best photos from my 2016 collection that fit that description.

Definitely red
Definitely red

It was hot July 3rd in the Central Valley. As appointed photographer for the Kiwanis July 3rd Blast, I sought out interesting shots. Sure enough, here was the cherry on top.

a very cute parade rider with a cherry on top
a very cute parade rider with a cherry on top

She probably did not need to be coaxed to ride in the parade. In a few years, she will probably be Miss Woodlake.

Intent on history, his and 275 others' enjoyment of the new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum was the cherry on top of the entire effort.
Intent on history, his and 275 others’ enjoyment of the new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum was the cherry on top of the entire effort.

At the Grand Opening of the Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum, we experience double-vision with this cherry-red cap. Maybe he is reading about the founding members of the Woodlake Lions.

The VIP opening of the Museum was a cherry topping experience for me. Here’s why.

My phone rang. I was about to step back into my tour bus in Hawaii. It was Carl Peden. We had never met, but he donated lots of artifacts to the museum from his time serving the White House as the pilot of Air Force One. On a whim, I asked him if he would be one of the speakers at the VIP opening. To my surprise, he agreed.

Carl Peden, so vibrant at the Museum VIP opening, passed away two days later on President's Day. We all mourn his passing.
Carl Peden, so vibrant at the Museum VIP opening.

At the end of his speech he took off his jacket and handed it to our President, Rudy Garcia, for the Museum. What an electrifying end to his speech!

Woodlake Museum iPhone photos

He proudly pointed out his name on the donor list to his relatives.

On President’s Day, two days later, he passed away. I think this event might have been the last cherry on his cake. We loved having him.

Tulare County is one of the agricultural capitals of the world.
Tulare County is one of the agricultural capitals of the world.

The Tulare County Agricultural Fair is the cherry of all ag festivals. Thousands of ag professionals come from all over the world to see cherries like the one pictured. They probably know what this machine does, too! I just think it’s pretty and red.

a festive find at the botanical gardens
a festive find at the botanical gardens

Cacti don’t bloom that often, but when they do, they give us a magnificent show. This cherry-picked this photo emerged out of hundreds during the Woodlake Botanical Gardens Berry Festival this May. Beware, do not try to eat it, though!

Gelato anyone?
Gelato anyone?

Las Vegas is hot year round compared to most places. Gelato seemed like the best option for dinner after hubby played a rousing hand of poker all day. Nourishing? Not really. A delicious end to a fun day? Definitely!

Cherry of a life time!
Cherry vacation of a lifetime!

Though not overly thrilled with being the cherry in this picture, I was on cloud nine the week we were in Hawaii with my friends Carol, the Eternal Traveler from Australia, and Connie, my friend from TCOE, and their husbands.

The guys made it too!
The guys made it too!

You never know how it is going to work out when you put six people who have never traveled together on a week’s vacation, let alone six people, most of whom have never met in person. This Hawaiian trip was more than the icing on the cake. It was definitely the cherry on top!

Mr. ET enjoyed whale watching.
Mr. ET enjoyed whale watching. I love this picture of his enthusiasm!
We had fun trying to fit into a selfie. Where's V?
We had fun trying to fit into a selfie. Where’s V? Can you see him next to me?

We all look a little wind-blown. Make-up? Forget about it! Fun? You bet!

We climbed hundreds of stairs to take this picture at the top of Iao State Park.
We climbed hundreds of stairs to take this picture at the top of Iao State Park.

Huff, huff, huff! We made it to the top! My cherry-colored hat protected my face from frying in the sun, but held in the heat. Yes, I’m still smiling, but let’s sit down and have a nice cool drink, what do you think?

I lost my cherry bonnet in the shade, and wore my sarong in a most appealing way, don't you think?
I lost my cherry bonnet in the shade, and wore my sarong in a most appealing way, don’t you think?

Near the end of the week, and we are still smiling, but I’m sad inside because it will end soon.

Are cherries more valuable because they are so tiny compared to the rest of life?
Are cherries more valuable because they are so tiny compared to the rest of life?

One week out of our lives, such a small chunk, but it leaves lasting memories as bright as cherries on a chocolate soda.

And eventually the sun set on the cherry experience.
And eventually, the sun set on the cherry experience.

For more cherries, click the icon.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

If you enjoyed this, be the cherry on my sundae and please share it.🙂


Three Reasons for Entering Cee’s Oddball Challenge

Why I love Cee’s Oddball Challenge

  1. Because there is no theme other than odd ball, it is easy to choose pictures ahead of time.
  2. Since there’s no theme but odd, it’s easy to write and schedule this challenge.
  3. Even though Cee makes all her challenges easy because she announces the themes weeks in advance, this one is easy to choose pictures. That earns me hours away from the computer!

Yesterday I went through about a third of my pictures and pulled out 40 that I thought would work. Some of them I took on purpose because they were odd when I saw them. Others are odd because I took them and wondered why!

Even odder, why did I keep them?

Odd Pictures or Odd Thinking?

Now the only decision I need to make is to share the odd pictures or my odd thinking. Which would you prefer?

I’ll do one of each and see which one you like best, how’s that?

Odd picture
Odd picture

This was in my Hawaii pictures from January when we visited with Mr. & Ms. Eternal Traveler, and, of course, Justin Beaver. Maybe Carol knows what this is. Since it was with other shopping pictures we took of the ritzy shops in Wailea on Maui, she might even have a post about it.

By the way, Carol is a famous guest poster, and I just found this published article of hers on Google in the Hiker’s Handbook. Way to go, Carol!

All the explanation you are going to get from me is, “I just think it’s cool.”

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Odd thinking


Since reputation for having the ability to think is at stake here, I’d better explain myself.

Actually, this picture is unique and well-composed according to my daddy’s teaching. It’s framed with a pretty weed on the left. The gold and brown colors coordinate. And it has a bright rusty contrast.

I’m so defensive…

My reasoning for taking and keeping this

The real reason I took this picture was to help collect donations.

The Woodlake Chamber of Commerce found out this year that they own the sign that sits on CA State Highway 198, the main highway that goes from the coast to the Sequoia National Park. The sign alerts travelers that there is a cute, friendly, cowboy town north of the freeway a few miles with the best fries in the state.

Believe me you don’t want to go to the coast on Highway 198 with a motor home!

Or to the park either, for that matter, the hairpin turns are narrow and mountainous. That means wind and scary drop-offs. We did it at night one time, and I thought my husband would have a heart attack.

Back to the sign.

The Woodlake Chamber of Commerce is NOT wealthy! And suddenly it owns a sign that is falling down, and now we know it’s our responsibility to fix it. We could ask businesses and other clubs to donate, and we will probably do that because signs are expensive.

But now we are fundraising by selling donation tickets to win a trip to Maui – my husband and my favorite vacation spot.

So this is one of the photographs I took to document the need to replace it – as if the fading picture is not enough reason!

So now you have enough evidence to choose.

Which do you like better, odd picture or odd thinking?

Cee's OddBall

If you liked this post, PLEASE share it with your friends.

If you thought it was stupid, share it with your enemies. JK, don’t do that. Just ignore them. Maybe they will go away.

This post has all the clickable links to get back to Cee and see other odd pictures or enter for yourself.

In case you missed them, click here.