Weekly Photo Challenge: Transmogrify

October 31, 2016 — This week’s photo challenge is transmogrify.

I’ll admit I had a difficult time with this one, but that’s why they call it a challenge!

The sunset transforms day to night.
The transmogrify from day to night.
A full moon can transform a normal person into a lunatic!
In the spirit of Halloween, a full moon may transform a normal person into a LUNAtic!
Autumn transforms nature with a colorful palette.
Autumn’s transmogrify from Summer’s green is spectacular!



Celebrate the Season with a Scary Good Time

__3259762_origOctober 28, 2016 – It’s the last weekend in October, and you know what that means. It’s time to get your fright on.

If you’re not heading to a party this weekend and live in the southeastern Pennsylvania area, stop by one of the many haunts that promise to scare you silly.

Perhaps the most popular seasonal event in the Philadelphia area is Terror Behind the Walls, a haunted house that takes place in a real prison, Eastern State Penitentiary. The prison opened in 1829 and was abandoned in 1971 after housing the worst criminals in history for 142 years. You can tour the prison any time of year, which is frightening enough, but during the Halloween season, it turns into one of the craziest experiences ever.

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is arguably the scariest movie in his collection. It introduced the world to Norman Bates and his beloved mother, who run the Bates Motel. You can experience Norman’s crazy world for yourself with a trip to The Bates Motel, a haunted spot in Glen Mills, Pa. There are two exhibits on the site, so you can double your terror. The Haunted Hayride and the Bates Motel are sure to scare the bejesus out of you.

If you’re looking for a dose of reality with your Halloween fun, try one of these famous attractions:

Not only is historical Laurel Hill Cemetery the hippest and most photographed cemetery in Philadelphia, it’s also home to the Gravediggers Ball, and the special attractions for 2016, True Tales from the Tomb and the Halloween Picnic and Parade. Check the website for details and times.

Year round Ghost Tours of Philadelphia’s historic regions are super eerie during the Halloween season. The tour guides take you on a candlelit walk through historic cobblestone streets where you will discover the fascinating tales of America’s most haunted city. Walking tours depart from 5th & Chestnut Streets and finish at 2nd & Walnut Streets. Year round tours depart on Friday and Saturday nights; during the Halloween season, tours depart nightly.

Follow a lantern-lit walking ghost walk through historic New Hope, situated in Bucks County, right outside of Philadelphia. The streets are quaint and may look calm to the naked eye, but they are haunted by ghosts from the past. You’ll hear tales of the haunted hitchhiker, and see the historic Logan Inn where Aaron Burr and a Revolutionary War soldier have been known to haunt. During September and October, tours meet each Friday and Saturday night, including Halloween.

The Mutter Museum, Philadelphia’s own medical oddities showcase, is frightful enough on a normal day, but during Halloween, it goes to extremes. During the season, the museum features eerie events, such as the 2nd Annual Mischief Night at the Mutter and the Day of Dead Festivities. Check out the site for dates and times. Only the Mutter can serve up Halloween like this.

Happy Halloween!

Five reasons autumn is awesome

imagesOctober 21, 2016 – Why does the third season of the calendar year have two official names? Most people around the world refer to that season as autumn, but people in the United States and Canada call it fall because as the days get shorter the sun continues to ‘fall’ closer to the horizon. The best season of the year deserves two names, and here are five reasons why:

1. Perfect weather. Warm days and cool nights are appealing and commonly referred to in my home as “no utility” weather. The air conditioners are silent, and the heat is off, which is a nice break for your budget. Better yet, the windows are open, providing the perfect environment for curtains fluttering in the breeze.

2. Brilliant colors. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area that changes seasons beautifully, and that is more apparent in the fall. Vibrant oranges, reds, and golds unfold across the landscape as the colors change, and the harvest provides plenty of colors, too. Pumpkins adorn doorsteps and gardens along the city streets, and now that many people decorate for Halloween, orange lights can be spotted in windows and strung through railings everywhere. The scents of fall are heavenly, too. There’s nothing more appealing than walking into a grocery store, while the scent of cinnamon pinecones tingle your sense of smell.

3. The approaching holiday season. It’s hard to ignore the arrival of Christmas items in stores beginning in August, which is too early I’ll agree, but it’s best to go with it. Christmas may occur during the early winter, but the buildup of the holiday can be experienced all throughout the autumn season. Of course, Halloween and Thanksgiving come first, two holidays, which celebrate this wonderful season perfectly, so there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy.

4. Baseball playoffs. In the world of sports, there’s nothing like baseball playoffs. It beats the Super Bowl and the Olympics, although I know there are some who would disagree. As a Phillies fan, I won’t be cheering on my team this playoff season, but that’s OK. I enjoy the playoffs more when my team isn’t playing, maybe even a little more. That may sound strange, but it’s more enjoyable because it’s less stressful.

5. It’s not winter yet. It’s sad that a long winter has to follow the best season of the year, but it only makes me appreciate autumn even more.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Local

October 17, 2016 — This week’s photo challenge is local.

We're lucky to have this gem in our backyard. It's a Logan Inn in New Hope, Pa., the most haunted place in America according to some experts who measure those things. We make it a yearly tradition to have dinner there each autumn and follow it up with a walking ghost tour through the streets of New Hope.
We’re lucky to have this gem in our backyard. The Logan Inn in New Hope, Pa., is the most haunted place in America according to some experts who measure those things. We make it a yearly tradition to have dinner each autumn and follow it up with a walking ghost tour through the streets of New Hope.
Across the street from the Logan Inn sits another quaint bar/restaurant with a great view of the Delaware River from its back deck.
Across the street from the Logan Inn sits another quaint bar/restaurant, The Riverhouse, with a great view of the Delaware River from its back deck.
A peek at that said back deck. I didn't have my tripod with me and I took it with the flash off, so it's a bit blurry. But it was a gorgeous fall evening and I love the reflections on the Delaware River.
Here is a peek at that view. I didn’t have my tripod with me and I took it with the flash off, so it’s blurry due to camera shake. It was a gorgeous fall evening and I love the reflections on the Delaware River with the moon on the rise.

Celebrating the written word

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October 14, 2011 – Next Thursday, October 20, is The National Day on Writing, and this year, it won’t pass me by without a celebration.

Selecting a day to honor writing began as a project by the National Council of English Teachers to encourage people to share why they write. The site also asked writers to tweet why they write, and last year over 60,000 writers participated. Join the conversation on Twitter with #WhyIWrite.

Here are a few responses that caught my eye:

1. “It’s cheaper than a shrink.”
2. “I can’t always say what I want to be heard.”
3. “To retain sanity.”
4. “To become a better person.”
5. “It’s the first thing I was good at.”
6. “There are restless characters clamoring to get out.”
7. “Because I can lie things into existence.”
8. “It comes out a heck of a lot better than when I speak.”
9. “It’s the least destructive addiction I could find.”
10. “Who says I have a choice?”

While I can relate, especially to #8 my answer is simple: it makes me happy.

My biggest fear for the future of writing, and why it’s so important to celebrate a national day like this, is that social media has turned many of us away from proper spelling or grammar. Aside from the occasional LOL, I’m not even able to use shortcuts or dominating abbreviations. I follow a simple rule when writing anything, from an email or text, a short story, or a speech for the CEO where I work: anyone who puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboard should care about the outcome.

Thank you to all of the writers who have fulfilled me, shocked me, made me laugh and cry, and thoroughly entertained me through the years.

It’s that time of year again, Charlie Brown

hth5352817_1October 7, 2016 – Good grief! Walking through the mall last night I noticed that the newsstand is well stocked with 2017 calendars—already.

Front and center was the Peanuts Wall Calendar, which I buy my son each Christmas because he loves the Peanuts as much as I do. He’s 32 now, but it’s still tradition.

It’s too early to pick one up now, and the last few years I’ve taken a more lazy route and ordered one for each of us from Amazon, but it got me thinking. Charlie Brown season is upon us, too. Soon we’ll see promos for television specials like “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

It’ll be here before we know it. And that’s fine with me.