The Wonders of Lavender

June 5, 2017 – I never had much desire to visit France — I’m more of a fan of the Mediterranean countries, at least when I vacation in my mind — but these gorgeous photos of the country’s lavender fields make me want to pack my bags and go. With lavender’s ability to sooth nervous tension, relieve pain and help insomnia, the people in this region must be the happiest and most well-rested people on earth.

In my region of the world, June is lavender harvest season, and there are two close lavender farms in Bucks County, Pa. Peace Valley Lavender Farm and Carousel Lavender Farm are both located near the town of New Hope. Here are a few photos of each farm — although they don’t come close to those taken in France since they were taken after harvest.

peace valley sign

Lavender was used 2500 years ago in the mummification process in Ancient Egypt. It is also said that Cleopatra used a perfume infused with lavender to seduced Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

It is said that Cleopatra used a perfume infused with lavender to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

Queen Victoria used to require that her furniture be polished with a lavender-based solution, and she also sipped tea infused with lavender to settle her stomach and ease her headaches.

Queen Victoria used to require that her furniture be polished with a lavender-based solution, and she also sipped tea infused with lavender to settle her stomach.

peace valley shop 2

Lavender has the following properties: antibacterial, antidepressant, analgesic, and antiseptic. During London’s great plague, people would tie bunches of lavender to their wrists to fight infection and bacteria.

carosel sign

The lavender bud is covered in tiny hairs that contain the essential oils.

The lavender bud is covered in tiny hairs that contain the essential oils.

Back in the Elizabethan times, when baths weren’t common practice, lavender was used to perfume clothes and bed linen.

Back in the Elizabethan times, when baths weren’t common practice, lavender was used to perfume clothes and bed linen.

In French classrooms teachers used to crush lavender to calm disruptive and nervous students.

In French classrooms teachers used to crush lavender to calm disruptive and nervous students.

The Best Cities for Young Professionals

May 1, 2017 — A friend of mine is contemplating a move to California sometime this summer to test his computer science skills in the Silicon Valley.

Good thing that the number one city for young professionals is San Francisco, according to ranker.com.

San Francisco also tops the best city for young professionals on Forbes.com and ranks #3 on Niche.com . IT also ranks as #1 in the Best Cities for Young Tech professionals, according to Time Magazine, so it looks like it is the best place for him.

I enjoyed San Francisco when I traveled there for business years ago. I always said I wanted to back and now it looks like I may have my chance.

 

 

Enjoy a Free Visit to a U.S. National Park in April

05 Mar 2006, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA — Image by © Buddy Mays/Corbis

April 10, 2017 – Just in time for spring break, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation are joining together for National Park Week, from April 15 to 23. And if you visit a National Park on the weekend (either April 15-16 or 22-23), you’ll be admitted free to the parks that normally charge a fee.

There are 417 National Parks across the United States, so chances are there is one in your area.

I’m planning a trip to Gettysburg National Park, a famous Civil War battleground about two hours from my home over the weekend of April 22-23, and the spring blossoms promises lots of photo opportunities. Although I’ve been to several National Parks in the Northwest and Southwest, I tend to miss the local sites in my own backyard.

It’s the perfect way to spend time with the kids, since many schools are closed for spring break that week. However, if you can’t make it this month, the parks will also offer free admittance on August 25 to celebrate the National Park Service’s birthday.

It’s a Weird World After All

PMWWWEC_MainImageAugust 26, 2016 – Are you the ultimate theme park connoisseur?

If you’ve been to Disney World more than 10 times you probably think you are. You may also want to seek help for your addiction and admit it’s time to broaden your horizons before you plan your next theme park excursion.

In honor of Labor Day approaching faster than the Rock and Roll Roller Coaster, here are 10 Bizarre Theme Parks from Around the World courtesy of listverse.com, the people who love compiling lists as much as I love reading them. Between the 10 stages of hell, a Japanese prison, the crucifixion and war mongering, there is something for the entire family.

Philadelphia’s Japanese House and Garden

June 2, 2014 – Yesterday’s spectacular weather was perfect for a late spring stroll through Fairmount Park, and a visit to the Japanese House and Garden.

Shofuso, also known as Japanese House and Garden, is a traditional 17th century-style Japanese house and garden located in Philadelphia’s West Fairmount Park.

Shofuso, also known as Japanese House and Garden, is a traditional 17th century-style Japanese house and garden located in Philadelphia’s West Fairmount Park.

The house was built in Japan in 1953 (a gift from Japan to America) and exhibited in the courtyard at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was moved to Philadelphia in 1958.

The house was built in Japan in 1953 (a gift from Japan to America) and exhibited in the courtyard at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was moved to Philadelphia in 1958.

Shofuso was modeled after a famous guesthouse in the city of Otsu, built in 1601.

Shofuso was modeled after a famous guesthouse in the city of Otsu, built in 1601.

The Journal of Japanese Gardening named Shofuso the third-ranked Japanese garden out of more than 300 Japanese gardens in North America.

The Journal of Japanese Gardening named Shofuso the third-ranked Japanese garden out of more than 300 Japanese gardens in North America.

Over the years, Shofuso fell into disrepair due to lack of maintenance. In 1975, Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo contacted the Consulate General of Japan in New York to inquire about the possibility restoring Shofuso for the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration. The Japan-America Society raised funds a complete major restoration of the house and garden in June 1976.

In the early 1970s, Shofuso fell into disrepair due to lack of maintenance. The Japan-America Society raised funds a complete major restoration of the house and garden in June 1976, just in time for the Bicentennial.

To continue preservation and maintenance of Shofuso, a non-profit organization, the Friends of the Japanese House & Garden was incorporated in February 1982.

To continue preservation and maintenance of Shofuso, a non-profit organization, the Friends of the Japanese House & Garden was formed in February 1982.

Ranking Philadelphia: A top five list

general_philadelphia-city-hall

May 16, 2014 – Philadelphia is a fine place to live, work, and play, but it takes plenty of criticism from those who may not share the love. I perused through the files of www.Ranker.com to see how my fair city stacks up against others in several categories, and here is what I discovered:

5. Philadelphia is 19th out of 64 on “America’s Coolest Cities” list.
I have visited both the #1 and #2 spots (San Francisco and New York City), and agree they have a high cool factor; however, Philadelphia is just as cool and should place higher on the list. Aside from the usual attractions that offer a great history lesson, the birthplace of America features the unusual, too. The Mutter Museum, for example, highlights a history of medicine and an interesting display of medical oddities, and Eastern State Penitentiary, the country’s first modern penitentiary may not be active – it closed in 1971 – but it is open to visitors, and it plays a huge factor in the city’s Halloween fun every year. Laurel Hill Cemetery in East Falls, the National Historic Landmark and the resting place of Titanic passengers and Civil War generals, is another must see. Additionally, filmmaker David Lynch lived in Philly in the 60s and 70s, and shot his epic “Eraserhead” here, which had a huge impact on the city. Sections of Fairmount, where he lived and filmed, are known as Eraserhood.

4. Philadelphia is 5th out of 28 of the “Best Food Cities” in the U.S.
New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and Kansas City may come before Philadelphia on this list, but #5 is respectable for the City of Brotherly Love when it comes to the best food. With several establishments from premier restaurateur Stephen Starr scattered throughout the city, Philly can hold its own in the elite and trendy restaurant category. Whether you want to grab a quick bite at the swanky Continental with two locations in center city, a cheesesteak at Tony Luke’s in South Philly, or sit down and linger over a fabulous meal at Buddakan, the city has a place for everyone. Better yet, visit Citizens Bank Park. Philly’s baseball yard was recently given the honor of the best ballpark food in the country.

3. Philadelphia is 14th out of 25 on the “Most Intelligent Cities” list.
Quite a ridiculous ranking, if you ask me. Seattle and Minneapolis are nos. 1 and 2; I have visited both cities, live in Philadelphia, and I never noticed a difference. If anything, it rains nine months out of the year in Seattle, and it is bitter cold in the winter in Minneapolis which also lasts about nine months, so resident don’t seem very intelligent living in those climates. If the rankers are basing this on top universities located in these cities, I challenge them to name one more prestigious than The University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League presence located in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. Go ahead, I dare you!

2. Philadelphia is 5th out of 14 on the “Famous Firsts in U.S. Cities”.
Cincinnati and New York City are nos. 1 and 2 for their famous firsts of ambulance services and aquariums. Philadelphia falls in at #5, which again is respectable, but when you realize that our famous first is the computer, you will likely agree we belong higher in the ranking. Sure, ambulance services are important, and aquariums are nice, but considering most homes have at least one computer and the work force could not exist without them, the computer and Philadelphia should easily take that #2 spot.

1. Philadelphia is #1 of the 27 cities with the “Worst Sports Fans”.
The city has the lazy sports media to thank for this absurd ranking, since they keep the stories alive by consistently referring to throwing snowballs at Santa in 1968, and other exaggerated occurrences. Bottom line, Philadelphia is a great sports city with passionate fans who may exercise their right to boo, but Philly is the seat of our country’s democracy, so our rights are important. Ironically, Philadelphia also lists #7 out of 30 on the cities with the “Best Sports Fans” list. I think we belong higher up on that list, too.

View the complete lists at http://www.ranker.com/review/philadelphia/1792338.

 

The Grand Central Station of Philadelphia

May 5, 2014 – Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station is a hub for Amtrak trains bound for national destinations, and for local SEPTA trains that run throughout the city and local suburbs. A unique and artistically designed building, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The ornate inside columns make one feel they are inside a museum, rather than a transportation station.

The ornate inside columns make one feel they are inside a museum, rather than a rail station.

Construction began in 1927 and the station opened in 1933, starting with two platform tracks.

Construction began in 1927 and the station opened in 1933, starting with two platform tracks.

The building's exterior has columns on the east and west sides, giving it a balance between classical and modern architectural styles.

The building’s exterior has columns on the east and west sides, giving it a balance between classical and modern architectural styles.

The coffered ceiling is painted gold, red and cream.

The coffered ceiling is painted gold, red and cream.

An archangel at the 29th Street entrance holds a dead soldier to honor Pennsylvania Railroad employees killed during WWII.

An archangel at the 29th Street entrance holds a dead soldier to honor Pennsylvania Railroad employees killed during WWII.