Sunday, August 28, 2016

Amazon's Annual Picnic - Coney Island

 Each August Tom and I get to attend Amazon's annual picnic. This year the company chose Coney Island for their event. My mother was there with a number of high school girlfriends sometime in the late 1930's or early 1940's. I've heard stories about the place for years. They went to Cincinnati on a bus (big deal in those days without superhighways) and spent the night with one of the girl's relatives.

 Is it still the same place it was all those decades ago? Surely not. For one, it isn't an island (and I doubt it ever was). Mom remembers going there in a boat. I think she merely enjoyed the large pond. After she views these pictures, we'll see how much is familiar. Very little, I'll bet.

 We went in the main entrance but found that group picnics - such as the one we were attending - were supposed to use another entrance. So we drove a bit more and finally got into the right line of traffic and found a parking spot in the "suburbs".

 Ah, here we go.

 Tom wasn't given tickets ahead of time so we visited this table (various tables for the different Amazon warehouse locations) where Tom showed his employee ID and he was looked up on a list and we were each given color-coded paper wristbands.

 Tom's helping attach mine before we head for the food area. Color-coding makes sure you stay in your assigned area.

 First order of business: eat! Free food was provided from 10 am to 2 pm. So we decided to load up first ... and then see the sites. As my back was out, I limited myself to nearby amusements and couldn't ride any; it would have hurt too much.

 Here's my plate with Tom's in the background. While they didn't specifically offer a vegetarian item this year, I was able to take a bun, add a slice of American cheese, top it with onions, pickles and (later) pickles, and have a delicious and filling sandwich. Tom waited in line for soda.
 Tom's sandwiches are in the background - and he went back for a third: a hamburger and a hot dog. There weren't cookies or any dessert as part of the meal. But who can argue with the price?

 It was a hot day (low 90's) and humid but seating for the lunch was provided at picnic tables beneath a roof. There was s slight breeze making the day almost bearable.

 Mom will remember this, Tom said: Moonlight Gardens. This is an old dancing venue and probably dates to the earliest days of the park.

 The walkways are beautifully landscaped throughout the park.

 This lake had paddle-boats at one end and was used for various aquatic activities at other places.

 I suspect most people come here for the amusement rides. I've never been that big on them and my back hurt too much to even try. But there were sure lots of happy people and many of the rides were full.

 Tom thought this Administration Building also dated from the earliest days of Coney Island. I'll see if Mom remembers it.

 We enjoyed live entertainment for a while. Song and dances were performed by what I think were college-aged kids. Quite good and certainly enthusiastic.

 There would have been some good views from the top of this Ferris Wheel.

 I suppose this geodesic dome provided climbing activities but no one was using it when we passed. Too much work, I suppose. Too hot.

 Another section of the lake. Younger children were using small row boats.

 Here's one of Tom and Nan's favorite rides. Tilt-A-Whirl, I think.

 This small pond was painted a brilliant blue on the bottom and attracted the undivided attention of this young child.

 A ride more suited for the younger crowd?

 And certainly the Merry-Go-Round is a children's classic.

 This "ride" lifted two sets of people to a height of four stories and then dropped them. One young man (probably about 20) rode again and again. As soon as he got off, he got back in line. You could hear the screams well before we got here.

 We found a semi-shady spot to watch the people slowly rise and then drop.

 Shady spots were aplenty but the day would have been much more pleasant had it been 20° cooler. When we got back to Tom's apartment (about 2 pm) storms had just arrived so I don't know how the picnic progressed while the rain was hammering down and the lightning was flashing. The rides would have closed, of course.

 And here we are leaving.

 So, I've finally seen Coney Island. It's a nicely cared-for park and I understand why it gave Mom many life-long memory. For more information on the park, click here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Blue-Tailed Skink

 This is a rare reptile for me. In my 30 years here at Pinehaven, I had seen just one. That is, until earlier this month. One day I was mowing out by the road. We have a large rock at the corner of the driveway. As I trimmed around the rock, a Blue-Tailed Skink ran in front of the mower.

 He was fast. It's almost as though he was running with the sky following him. The tail is really that blue.

 In actuality, even though this creature is commonly called a Blue-Tailed Skink, it is not. The true blue-tail lives on Australia's Christmas Island. This is the American Five-Lined Skink ... not so nearly as memorable a name. Only the juvenile stage is commonly labeled Blue-Tail.

 Even more specifically, this is a Plestiodon fasciatus. Read more about this reptile here.

 My earliest view of this creature was many years ago when I was again mowing but near the railroad ties that used to line our driveway (they have since mostly rotted away). I could not believe the blue tail when he rain into the wood.

 So now I've seen one a third time. Yesterday I had finished mowing and was just coming out of the garage. A Blue-Tail was sunning at the edge of our back porch, luxuriating in the warm sun. I approached cautiously - and this time I happened to have my smartphone with me. I took pictures as I got nearer and nearer.

 He certainly was watching me as I approached but he made no move to run. I got closer and closer.

 Clearly reptilian, the animal is cold-blooded and was enjoying the late summer sun. Recent rainy days have left us with chilly nights, into the mid-50's. I suppose the sun was a special treat.

 It is the tail that is most interesting to me. While the body is shades of khaki and olive, lined with muted yellows, the tail becomes suddenly blue. It seems wholly out of place.
 Others tell me these are quite common in Farmersville. Some, conversely, tell me they've never seen one. I feel lucky to have now seen three in my thirty years here. And this time, I was even more fortunate, to be able to take pictures.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Lois Masters 90th Birthday

 Mom, Tom and I attended Lois Masters 90th birthday party in Miamisburg yesterday. It was held at the American Legion on Main Street from 2 pm to 5 pm.

 The tables were nicely decorated with centerpieces and purple glitter. I have to guess that Lois's favorite color is lavender?

 Lois (l) greeted visitors as they arrived. I'm not sure how she stood there for three hours (though we were there for less than one hour). When we arrived rain was threatening; when we left it was raining fairly hard.

 Though Mom attended, she feels she can't manage this sort of thing any longer. She has a very hard time getting around (she'll be 91 in less than two months) and has to keep a bathroom in sight at all times. It was difficult getting her there amid the streams of people congestion at the bar area.

 We were lucky to have Tom accompany us. He held doors and generally offered moral support.

 Cupcakes were decorated with ivory icing and lavender. Pretty!

 There are also veggies and croissants, though the sandwiches each appeared to have meat in them (chicken and ham salad) so we had to avoid them.

 We only had a chance to briefly talk with Lois but we met many relatives and friends we haven't seen in years: Mike and Scott Masters, Doug, Jeff, Roger & Eric Cluxton,Tom Lowther, Paul & Rose McKeehan, Sue Barlett and her sister, Robin. Mom saw friends from high school.

 Best wishes for many more years to Lois, as fine a lady as any of us will ever meet.