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There were a number of things I would have liked to do in Cape May, like renting a bike and riding around town and hiking the nature trails by the lighthouse. Especially since Sunday’s weather turned out quite nice in contrast to Saturday’s. But part of my “plan” for the weekend included driving up to Allaire State Park and checking out Historic Allaire Village. A friend of mine talks a lot about dressing up in period clothes and joining the other re-enactors as a quilter. We have an historic village in our area, Henricus, and I thought Allaire might be similar and a nice photo op. And it would have been, except Allaire has a “no photography” policy inside the buildings. So I complied and restricted my photos to exterior shots.

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There was even a real wedding in the historic church. Apparently it’s a popular place for weddings.

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We decided when we left Cape May that we’d skip the Philadelphia portion of the trip because we wouldn’t get there in time to see the sights which closed at 5pm and I really didn’t have an after-5 plan. We didn’t want to spend another evening in a hotel without anything to do, although we would have been able to watch TV at the Courtyard :-)

So we drove on home, with a stop for dinner once we got into Virginia. Next time, we’ll drive up on Friday so that we can get an early start on activities on Saturday. I’m thinking we can do this in the spring/early summer because I’ve been wanting to see Longwood Gardens (about an hour outside of Philly) and Winterthur in Delaware.

 

 

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We had a 3-day weekend and I didn’t want to let it go without getting away from home. We spend so many weekends doing laundry and running mundane errands that I just wanted to get out. There are a number of cities within a few hours drive that I would like to explore. I considered Pittsburgh, as we have friends from that area and they talk about it a lot. But, John didn’t see the point. Whatever that means. Apparently he didn’t want to go there :-)

So I decided on Philadelphia. The last time we were there was a month after 9/11 and everything was locked down with armed guards (as I remember it), so we didn’t even stop. I also wanted to explore New Jersey (why does everyone diss Jersey?), so the plan was to spend a day in Philly doing touristy things and then head over to Cape May, which I’d heard so much about. I also wanted to see fall color, assuming NJ was far enough north to be further along in the color than down here.

Our weekend didn’t go exactly as I’d envisioned it. First, we had a Friday evening commitment, so we couldn’t hit the road then. That would have been ideal. Then, I couldn’t get an affordable hotel room in Philly until Sunday night, so we were forced to do the trip in reverse order. I couldn’t find a Marriott hotel (or any other chain for that matter) in Cape May and friends said oh just get a B&B. We’d never stayed at one before and I didn’t know how to choose, so we drove up without a reservation for that night. While on the road, I got ahold of the Availability Hotline, which gave me three B&Bs that had reported cancellations. Only one of them actually had a room, so I grabbed it.

Saturday was a rainy, dreary day and we didn’t get into Cape May until after 1pm, closer to 2, I think. We couldn’t check in until 3, so we walked down the street to the pedestrian shopping mall, looking for a light lunch. Even though we split a chicken salad sandwich, it was huge and was more than we intended to eat.

Here’s what we didn’t know about Cape May until we got there. Probably 95% or more of the hotels are Victorian B&Bs, I think. The town has historic status, so everything is protected and it tops the quaintness charts (if there is such a thing). If you go, bring rolls and rolls of quarters because all street parking is metered and one quarter will only get you 15 minutes. No Sunday exclusions, although I think you don’t have to feed the meters over night. There are ATMs everywhere and it was explained to us that a lot of businesses are cash only. We didn’t run into that and of course, you can’t get quarters from an ATM. So beware. Another curiosity was so many restaurants that advertised BYOB. Our host explained that there are a limited number of alcohol licenses, so they let you bring in your own. It’s a walking and biking town, so bring your sturdy shoes and your own bikes, although rentals are available. We were a couple of blocks from the beach and since it’s off-season, the beaches were pretty deserted. I can imagine what the town must be like during the summer.

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Andy and Toby were our hosts at Bayberry Inn. It is one of a few buildings that survived a devastating fire in 1878.

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A delightful place, I highly recommend it. One block from the Washington Street mall and two blocks from the beach. Easy walking.

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Saturday’s skies:

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Sunday was much nicer:

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I would have taken pictures of every single fabulous B&B and inn if I could have. Here are just a few:

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As I’d hoped, the town was decorated for fall and Halloween. Made me want to come home and plant mums.

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It just happened to be Lima Bean Festival weekend.

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Cape May is a big bird-watching destination because of the Atlantic Flyway. This is by the lighthouse and the place was teeming with bird-watchers. I overheard some people say they’d walked a nature trail and saw bald eagles.

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Because of our late lunch, we weren’t hungry for dinner, although we did walk around about 8 o’clock looking at all the posted menus. We came back to our room, intending to watch an episode of Game of Thrones on the iPad, since there are no televisions at Bayberry Inn. However, it wouldn’t download and it wouldn’t stream, so we went to bed early :-)

We left town Sunday morning to do some more touring around the state. I’ll tell you about that in Part 2.

 

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Now that I have video capabilities in my new 70D, it’s going to turn into new opportunities for me to explore my artistic side, such as it is. I’ve taken a few short videos, but once you get them out of the camera, you usually have to tweak them before posting to Facebook, YouTube, etc. A lot of people put raw footage online, but I want to do more. I do not see myself ever going beyond the simplest of edits because I find video editing tedious and time consuming. I’ve been using iMovie, which is beginner/consumer level software, but I find it frustrating because I can’t remember how to use it from edit session to edit session because let’s face it, I don’t do this everyday.

But I saw this tutorial on using Photoshop for this purpose and wowee, I couldn’t wait to try it. We just got back from vacation and I brought back some short video clips I’d taken at our nephew’s wedding. I wanted to combine the 3 clips into one movie. Photoshop was awesome for this purpose. I played around with creating and adding an outro to my movie and I actually figured it out on my own. Woohoo! I don’t know if I did it the “right” way, but it worked.

 

That said, here’s my movie:

(The back story: this is my son Brian dancing with his cousins’ children, who love him to death, as you’ll soon see. They like to play Dance Party video games at family get-togethers, so they thought this was just more of the same.)

 

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Birthday apron

Granddaughter Anya celebrated her 4th birthday a few weeks ago and Nannie had been asked to make her an apron. This is what I came up with:

 

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The print fabric is directional but it goes in all directions. Some of the Minnies were vertical, some sideways. So I wasted some fabric trying to figure out the best way. There is also some text that ended up upside-down but I figured Anya wouldn’t really care. She can’t read it yet anyway LOL.

 

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I’ve been working on the family histories since 1989. I never went into this with a plan. Honestly, I started it because we bought our first PC and I was looking for something to use it for, you know, to justify the expense. I had seen an article about the LDS church’s genealogy software that you could buy for $35 (Personal Ancestral File for DOS) and that seemed like a fun thing to play with. And I never looked back.

But I’m not getting any younger and it’s time to think seriously about my legacy. What do I want to leave behind? I’ve always said I wanted to publish my research, but in looking at what I’ve accomplished, I realize that I am one of those “name collectors,” so reviled by many in the genealogical community. They say that doesn’t make me a family historian, that I’m not writing the story of my ancestors’ lives, just documenting branches on a tree. Well, I’m not ashamed of my work. I have laid the pathway for others to write the stories. Of course, all my work (and all anyone’s work) needs to be verified. I try not to jump to conclusions, but sometimes when faced with fact discrepancies, you go with your gut and write down what you’ve found, how it conflicts and which fact you think is the correct one. Just think how much time I will have saved someone if they don’t have to build the trees from scratch, they can look at my work and verify or discount.

On my father’s side, my goals have always been to discover where the immigrant ancestors came from. I don’t care to go any farther back in time than that. I’m not looking for a link to royalty or Charlemagne. And I’ve done that with our HOFF, SCHMIEDER, SCHMITZ and WEBER lines. A cousin found the birthplace of our BACHMANN line, so I make no claim to that. GRIMM and WELTER have so far eluded me.

On my mother’s side, all lines can probably be traced to colonial-era immigration. Some of these families have been researched by other cousins and I’ve been verifying their work as much as I can. What fun it would be to be reincarnated as a young person, to be given another lifetime to research where the older me had to leave off. The next few generations will see an explosion of data and records digitized and put online and they’ll be able to find things that for now are hidden away in courthouse basements, libraries, rotting old newspapers, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly feel blessed that I’m living in a time where so much is already available to me online as I’m able to afford to pay for it, as opposed to those who’ve gone before me and had to resort to recording data on index cards and  travel to faraway places to visit those basements, libraries and cemeteries. I hope and pray that the politicians who are so intent on locking up our vital records will relent and laws will change to a more open atmosphere. If not, it will be several more generations before anyone can access them.

So now I need to set some goals, doable goals. Yes, I want to keep working away on the GRIMMs and WELTERs. On my husband’s side, I want to be able to confirm that he is a direct descendant of John and Priscilla ALDEN of the Mayflower. Because that makes my children and grandchildren direct descendants also. I “inherited” a lineage from John’s grandmother but it only has a handwritten list of names, no notes, no sources. I don’t know who wrote the list or when (just that it was prior to 1980). Gram was long gone when I started this quest and John’s mother told me about the list but she didn’t know what happened to it, she was afraid it was tucked into a book that she put in her mother’s casket. Well, great! A few years ago, after John’s mother died, my sister-in-law found that paper in her garage as she was cleaning out stuff after her husband (John’s brother) died. The list was exactly the same as what I had come up with in my independent research and my heart soared that it could be right.  I want our kids and grandkids to know for sure, one way or the other.

I want to visit where the KASPAR family came from in what was 19th century’s Austria, today’s Poland (the area surrounding Nowy Sacz). I’ve been to the HOFF and SCHMIEDER birthplaces  in Germany (Thuine, Neidersachsen and Kappel-Niederschach, Baden respectively) and I want to visit where the WEBERs came from in Rhineland (Üdersdorf). After I find those GRIMMs (likely in the neighborhood of Neuhütten, Bavaria) and WELTERs (either Luxembourg, France or Germany), I want to go to those places, too.

And I want to put all this stuff in print, some way, some how. It’ll do no one any good if it’s buried on my computer. I have a plan for putting it online but that’s down the road a bit. My database could use some cleanup first.

So I feel good that I have made this list of goals and my next step is to get organized.

Heaven help me, I just bought a portable scanner (ScanSnap S1300i) and a database program called Paperless. I’ve been thinking for years how I can get all my piles of paper that are on the floor digitized in my lifetime. I’ve bought several scanners through the years and the ScanSnap seems to be the most usable for this project. It scans 2-sided and can handle multiple pages in one feed. I don’t have to use Paperless if I don’t want to but for genealogy stuff, it seems the most practical. I was playing with the scanner this weekend and I was able to scan directly to Evernote, although each document went to the Miscellaneous notebook. If there’s a way to direct a scan to the proper notebook, somebody please let me know. It’s easy to change it in Evernote, but that is one more step.

Next steps (per the Mayflower Descendants group on Facebook): contact the Virginia chapter of the Mayflower Society and get their guidance on this documentation journey. I looked into Society membership years and years ago and they were working on documenting the Alden’s first 5 generations. I’m told this is done now, so I should only have to connect our lines to theirs.

#GRIMM #WELTER #ALDEN #MAYFLOWER

 

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I love surveying my garden in the early morning. I’d say mine skews more heavily to spring blooming plants, but I do have some things blooming now, now that the azaleas and rhodies have finished.

I love, love, love day lilies. But my back yard is getting too shady for all the blooms my plants have the potential for. We limbed up most all of our oaks last fall in an effort to reduce the shade on the grass, but that hasn’t been enough. As much of a tree hugger as I am, I would like to remove some of them to let more sun in, but wow, that is so expensive. Also, my next-door-neighbor’s yard has mature oaks that are blocking a lot of sunlight on that side of the property. If I could, I’d remove her trees.

Despite my efforts to preserve the variety names, I’m afraid this one is lost. Isn’t it beautiful?

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A friend gave me some of her run-of-the-mill orange “ditch lilies” as she calls them, a few years ago. They’ve done well and filled out the space I planted them in. They are blooming well right now. No pictures today as they all closed up over night and the new ones haven’t opened yet. But you know them, I’m sure. They grow wild everywhere around here.

We had a surprise freeze in late-April, right after what’s supposed to be our last frost date. I think it played havoc with my Nikko Blue hydrangeas, as all 8 of the plants along our driveway fence are smaller than normal and not one single bloom on any of them. They are in full shade and don’t bloom very profusely anyway, but this is downright sad. The foliage looks nice and healthy, though. I have one plant at the house, which gets more sun and usually does very well. It, too, is smaller than usual but does have a few small blooms. Over the years, a couple of low branches managed to attach themselves to the ground and have rooted. I cut the smaller one off a few weeks ago and potted it up. The other one is quite a bit larger and I’ll have to look around for a place to put it. Maybe it’ll fit somewhere in the front where there’s more light.

My Bluebird hydrangea is doing great! At least that’s one consolation. The flowers are truly blue.

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I was surprised to find this Astilbe peeking out from some azaleas. I had planted two of these next to the azaleas when they were new and everything was small. I didn’t see them last year, and assumed they’d gotten crowded out. Nice to see one has survived! I probably should move it…

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This end of a flower bed is under our cherry tree. There are several varieties of Hosta, a Korean Spice Viburnum (which never blooms because it’s in shade, but I took that into consideration when I planted it, I just wanted something to fill in) and this Autumn fern. I think it’s an Autumn fern, maybe it’s a Japanese painted fern. If I’d known it was going to get this large, I would have moved it back toward the fence. But maybe it’s doing this well because of where it is. There is a little tiny fern back behind it that is barely hanging on, I’d better move it before I lose it altogether.

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And, last but not least, John had to replace his Chuck Hayes gardenia because we lost the old one (and another one) to the late freeze. He keeps hoping the old one will come back, but the green leaves it still has are sickly looking and are turning brown. It’s a goner.

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I was playing around with a photographic technique of creating a black background even in the daytime. What you’ll need for this is a camera that will do full manual and a flash or speed light and a tripod (although this isn’t mandatory). If you have the equipment to take your flash off camera, you’ll have more flexibility. I have a light stand that I bought specifically for my flash, a gizmo with a cold shoe (I think that’s what it’s called) to mount the flash unit on the stand, and inexpensive remote flash triggers (Yongnuo brand).

Here’s the gist of how you do it:

Set your camera on manual. Set your shutter speed at the sync speed of your flash (check your user guide), I set mine at 250. Set your aperture for the highest number, at least 22. Set your ISO as low as it will go, 100 or lower. If using a tripod, turn off stabilization if your lens has that. Set your focus to manual and adjust that. Easiest way is to focus on your subject with auto and then turn it off.

Without the flash, take a test shot. You should get a solid black rectangle. This is your ambient light and in this experiment, you don’t want any.

Now, enable your flash. Fire away. Commence experimenting with different settings and positions for your flash. I have a Canon 580EX II and it offers ETTL (through the lens, rather automatic) and manual settings that let you dial down the strength by 1/3 stops, down to 1/32. I found that full strength was too harsh, anything lower than 1/4 was too low.  I set the light stand to camera left of my flower. I moved it all around, even took the flash off the stand and used it hand-held so I could get some overhead lighting.

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This is the best of my shots and it’s not great. I tried every position I could think of to get the shadows out of the flower and I must have missed the one position that would have accomplished this. And I do admit to cheating a little by adding some highlighting to the flower in Lightroom.

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I have a lot of work to do to perfect this. But it was fun playing around with it and using the gear. I recommend the Yongnuo flash triggers. I don’t know what the pricey Pocket Wizards do that the Yongnuo doesn’t, but these worked for me just fine. My only gripe is that when you attach the flash to the trigger, you have to remember to turn the trigger on first because the flash covers up the power switch. Same for turning it off.

By the way, this plant is a Streptocarpus, sounds like a disease or virus. I bought it last year when the Richmond African Violet Society held a plant sale at Lewis Ginter. I wasn’t familiar with this one and for the longest time, I was just trying to keep it alive. They were selling 2-piece plastic pots where you fill the bottom with water up to the line and then insert the part with the plant in it. I was so tickled when it bloomed, because it sure didn’t do much for the whole time since I bought it. They come in pink, blue and purple. Maybe I’ll get some more at the next plant sale.

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