Seven Day B&W Photo Challenge

I just finished a Seven Day B&W Photo Challenge – the rules were the photos had to be B&W Photos of Life – No People – No Explanation! And I had to challenge one person every day to accept the challenge – some did, some didn’t! So – here are mine:

Day 1 of 7

Day 2 of 7

Day 3 of 7

Day 4 of 7

Day 5 of 7

Day 6 of 7

Day 7 of 7

I love doing B&W photos……maybe I’ll do this challenge again, sometime!

Thanksgiving on Long Island

I did something a little different for Thanksgiving, this year. I traveled with a friend to her sister’s home on Long Island! I had never been to Long Island – been to NYC many times, but never Long Island! So, I can check that off my bucket list……and a few other things, as well! It was a wonderful week of friendship, food, fun, and adventures…..definitely made a lot of memories……I am truly blessed and thankful!

On our first full day, we took the Long Island Railroad into New York City – we had tickets to see the Radio City Music Hall Rockette’s Christmas Show! It was a day crammed with lots of wonderful activities! I always wanted to go to NYC during the holidays…..and now, I have!

We caught the train out of the Ronkonkoma Station and arrived at Penn Station about an hour later

This sink is in the ladies room at Penn Station — it was sooooo cool!!! You put your hands under the far left side and get your soap, then move to the center to get your warm water, and then move to the far right for the air dryer!!! All in one bar……and there were several of these along a long shallow sink! I just thought it was worthy of a photo and mention here!!! I thought about taking a photo when I was in there, but didn’t…..then, my friends were surprised I didn’t, so I went back in to snap it! Yeah – I know – it’s the little things that make life so much fun!!!

We had to go in to Macy’s to see if Santa was there, yet…..we didn’t think he would be, but thought we could at least see it set up for him!

Macy’s is such a magical place! I remember my first time shopping in the “Mother Ship” of all Macy’s not long after I graduated from HS! And, after shopping there several times over the years, it still has a thrill I can’t possibly describe!

There is so much history there and they preserve it so well – like the original wooden escalators that snake up from floor to floor to floor!!!

And, the “over the top” decorations throughout the huge store!

And, the place where Santa can be found…….

And…..Santa, himself!!! Yes, he was there!!! We were thrilled to discover that we could see him! I asked him if I could ride with him on Christmas Eve and travel around the world helping him……he said that, unfortunately, there isn’t any room for extra helpers on the sleigh……but, I was really just happy that I got to see the Macy’s Santa in Macy’s!!! Albion’s very own Charles Howard was the original Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa and he was an adviser on the movie Miracle on 34th Street……for many years, he taught Santa’s from around the world right here in Albion at his world famous Santa Claus School! I had my photo taken with him when I was a little girl at his school……and, now, I have completed the dream of seeing a real Santa right there in the original  Macy’s!!!

And, my friends did, too!!!

There was a lot to see on the walk from Macy’s to Radio City Music Hall

A lady making a pie in a bakery window!

And we finally made it!!!

They passed out Santa hats and 3D glasses to everyone as we walked in

The glasses were for a beginning part of the show where Santa takes the sleigh to NYC to see the show and the audience goes along for the ride! Real cool!

A high school chorus from Wisconsin got the chance to go on stage to sing a Christmas medley for us before the show — what a thrill that must have been for them!

Then, a curtain opened on each side of the stage and two organists played more Christmas music — it was FABULOUS!!!

I’ve seen the Rockette’s before, but never their Christmas Spectacular…….something I always wanted to see! I was not one bit disappointed!!! It was amazing!!!

The most famous kick line in the world!!!

Chandelier hanging above the lobby of Radio city Music Hall

Flags at Rockefeller Center with St. Patrick’s Cathedral spires in the background

We watched the skaters at Rockefeller Center for a bit

The tree was up, but was still scaffolded and being prepped for the famous lighting……so, we really couldn’t see it!

On the walk between Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, there was a long pool with lighted angels all along on either side!

One of many, many wonderful store window displays – this is one of Saks windows!

We went in St. Patrick’s Cathedral – another thing I’ve never taken time to do when in the city, but always wanted to!

We sat and listened to choirs singing…….so beautiful as their angelic voices echoed through the massive sanctuary!

And, then we stopped to see the light show on the Saks Fifth Ave building! Awesome show of lights to the tune of There’s No Business Like Show Business!!!

And, the Saks window displays!

Right behind us as we watch the Saks light show was the pool with the trumpeting angels we saw earlier – now all lit up! So beautiful!

We stopped for dinner at Megan’s – an Irish Pub!

NYC at night is so………amazing!!!

The Empire State Building was lit up in blue

We went back by Macy’s on the way back to Penn Station to see their windows lit up

The Macy’s windows tell an animated story as you walk by to view them all

The front of Macy’s where the parade passes and all the performances take place!

It was hard to see with the barriers and equipment trucks, but the street was already shut off and painted for the parade — it was Tuesday night, so two more days till the Parade!

No – we did NOT go back in the city to watch the parade – we watched it from the warmth and comfort of Linda’s living room while we worked on our Thanksgiving dinner, just like the rest of the world – no freezing temperatures (it was the coldest in the history of the parade), no crowds to fight, and much better views! LOL

 

Linda lives in a beautiful wooded setting on Long Island — so peaceful and full of nature! Lots of squirrels and birds and deer – we saw a huge buck wandering up her driveway, but couldn’t get our cameras out in time to get a photo, and we saw others while we were there, too!

This is her driveway in from the street

I got the best sleep while I was there…….I stayed in a wonderful room they have in the basement – it was cozy, comfortable, quiet, and dark……and I slept like a baby every night!!! I didn’t want to leave!!!

The night before Thanksgiving, Cathy and I were charged with making “turkeys”!

It was fun and they were really quite delicious!

Then, our Thanksgiving was full of family, food, and lots to be thankful for! This was taken BEFORE all the food was on the table…….it shows the stunning pottery plates and mugs made by Linda’s husband, John, who is an artist!

And….after dinner, there were the desserts!!!

The next day, we ventured out to do some shopping on Long Island – yes, we went out on Black Friday – the stores and mall we went to were not too crowded and we had a very pleasant experience! We stopped at Zan’s Kosher Deli for lunch — this is my corned beef on rye sandwich! YUM!!!

The pickles were good, too!

On Saturday morning, we had bagels at Linda’s son’s home and then drove to Montauk to see the lighthouse……We drove through all the Hamptons on the way and had lunch in South Hampton!

We stopped at this lovely cemetery in East Hampton on the way!

There were swans on a mostly frozen pond

The stories on many of the head stones were so interesting!

It was just a small fenced in strip between the main street and a side street and was fenced off, but it was loaded with history and awesome stones and crypts!

And, there was this incredible crypt with a stone knight’s armor lying in rest on top!

He was a Lord and came from Holland to settle here!

We spent quite a bit of time at the Montauk Lighthouse – it was a beautiful place at the tip of Long Island with the ocean on one side and the sound on the other and views of Connecticut in the distance!

As we were leaving, this silly creature was wandering around the entrance to the lighthouse and parking area delighting the children of all ages who were there!

As we drove through Flanders, NY on our way to Montauk, we saw the Big Duck — listed on Roadside America as a quirky American site (click here to read about it)! The duck was originally the location of a shop where a local Long Island farmer sold ducks and eggs – it is now a gift shop! On our way to Montauk, they were just starting to decorate it and when we saw it on the return trip, it was all decked out and ready for photos!

We also saw a flying pig at a restaurant of the same name!!!

No trip is complete without a visit to a local ice cream parlor……this was a delicious treat from McNulty’s in Miller Place, NY

We also got a slice of amazing pizza from Uncle Giuseppe’s in Port Jefferson…..it is a grocery store that is truly awesome – like if Wegman’s and Trader Joe’s got married and took steroids – LOTS of steroids!!! They even had a little Italian guy wandering around serenading the customers!!!

It was sooooooo good!!!

Sunday evening we went to Linda and John’s church for mass……St. Francis Chapel in Miller Place

It is a Friary – an old Monastery with Father Frank – a wonderful “hippy” priest who runs Hope House Mission – a program that helps addicts get and stay clean! It is a great program that Linda volunteers for and has had great success in helping so many!

It isn’t big and elaborate, by any means, but it is warm, inviting, and Father Frank’s message was extremely inspirational…..and the Hims and Her Choir of recovering addicts was a very emotional experience! Although I’m not Catholic, I felt like a welcomed part of the service and felt really good about being there and left with a full, warm heart!

One of our other days, we went to the shore —- the ocean was really active after the rain and wind from the night before – HUGE waves!!!

But, it was a gorgeous day to be on the beach……a bit chilly, but sunny and bright and very pleasant!

We found this little green guy enjoying the sun……

There were several people out walking on the beach and a few dogs, too

And, LOTS of seagulls!

Don’t look, now, but you’re about to get wet, my friend!!! LOL

This is a place I could spend hours just sitting and walking and taking photos!!! It was so relaxing!

This is the spot on Long Island where TWA Flight 800 took off from JFK on the evening of July 17, 1996 and 12 minutes into the flight crashed just off shore, here! There were no survivors! This International Memorial was established to honor those who died in the crash and those who worked tirelessly in search and recovery efforts.

It is a beautiful tribute with benches and information and inspirational quotes!

This little building caught my eye – it is across the street from the ice cream parlor we went to that is close to Linda’s home — it is an old school house turned into a Free Library!

It seems like everywhere we went, we saw ducks and swans!!!

So……I’m not sure what I expected Long Island to be like — I guess I thought it would be little quaint beach communities……well, there was definitely plenty of those, but it was so much more! First of all, it is a LOT bigger than I thought! I guess I thought it was just a small strip island with just beachy communities…….it has a LOT of rural space and wooded areas and many both quaint little shopping spots and bigger malls – including a Tanger Mall! And, it is a HUGE island — I think it took us a little over an hour to get from Miller Place to Montauk and Miller Place is about 1/2 way up the island!!! But, whatever I had pictured in my head, I found Long Island to be a beautiful place to visit with tons to do and see! I had a really nice time and knocked several items off my Bucket List and/or did things for the first time ever: See the Radio City Music Hall Rockette’s Christmas Show, see NYC decorated and lit up for Christmas, get my photo with a real Macy’s Santa AT Macy’s, visit Long Island, add the Montauk Lighthouse to the list of amazing lighthouses I’ve seen, went inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, drove through the Hamptons – all of them, and even saw a little green man on a beach!!! And, so much more!!! It was a great week of wonderful memories!

November Photos – Part 1

November in pictures…..so far:

Taken today in Mount Albion Cemetery! I always love going to Mt. Albion in the autumn and seeing the deep leaves that have fallen from all the trees throughout the cemetery – covering all the roads and paths. Due to weather and / or being busy, I hadn’t been out there during the peak colors until today! I was instantly disappointed in myself because the maintenance crews were already hard at work blowing all the leaves into piles and vacuuming them up with their big hoses into trucks and hauling them off! Most of the paths and open areas were already cleared. I was so sad that I missed the blankets of leaves everywhere you look! But, I was still able to get some great shots and see and enjoy quite a bit of what makes Mt. Albion one of the best places on earth during the weeks that the trees shed their beauty!

“This Rules!”

This one was today’s Daily Photo Challenge pick…..

And, now, for others from the November Daily Photo Challenge…..so far…….

“Morning Sky”

Three days deliberately combined to tell the story of:

“I Want”, “I Have”. and “I Need”

“Fave Fruit”

“Strong”

“In My Kitchen”

And, one more look at:    “This Rules!”

November is going to be an awesome month for photos!!!

The rest of a colorful month in pictures

I really enjoyed doing the October Photo A Day. The topics all related to colors in some way. Here are the ones I took since the last update on here.

Gold

Silver

Two Colors

Pattern

Bright

Pop

Contrast

Black and White

Pastel

Rainbow

And, now……..on to November!!!

Movie Review – A Star Is Born

I have now seen all four versions of the amazing movie “A Star Is Born”! I have to say that I was, at first, reluctant to see the current version. While versions 1 and 2 were very good, version 3 – the Streisand / Kristofferson version – was so incredible it has the honor of being one of my (if not THE) all time favorite movies….I still get chills and a little teary eyed just thinking about it! It was movie perfection!!! So, when I heard they were working on yet another remake, I thought – oh, hell no……they can’t possibly top the 1976 version, so why waste the time and money! Then, I heard who they had cast in the lead roles — Bradley Cooper in Kristofferson’s role…..OK, that could work……..and Lady Gaga in Streisand’s role – WHAT? Seriously? No Way!!! So, right from the start, I was refusing to even consider going to see it!

But, then, I started seeing the trailers, clips, and interviews and thought……heck, this might be good, after all! Lady Gaga does have an incredible voice and the over the top image she had early on is being replaced with that of a strong, impressive woman! So…….maybe she can be effective in the role. So, yeah, I started getting excited about it coming out. And, by the time it got released, I was chomping at the bit to go see it! It opened two days before I left for Bermuda, so I had to wait to see it……then, going the week I got back didn’t seem to work out……so, my friend and I went to the matinee show on Monday, the 22nd – two days before my birthday – Happy Birthday to me!!! 😀

So…..did it live up to the hype I built in my mind about it or did it fall flat? I’ll go into more detail in a bit, but – in a nutshell – YES – it was amazing and definitely did NOT fall flat or disappoint me in any way!!! I LOVED IT!!! That said, however, the 1976 Streisand/Kristofferson version still reigns supreme and has not, in my opinion, been derailed as THE best version of them all…..and, therefore, still on the top of the leader board for my all time favorite movies!!! But, that doesn’t diminish the splendor of the current version, which I rank # 2 of the four versions and one I will definitely see again and again and again!!!

For those who are clueless and don’t know the story line………this movie is the story of a burned out star (in this version’s case, a country singer) who meets, falls in love with, and boosts the career of a rising star (in this version a pop singer). They have a rocky relationship as her career soars and his starts to fade. I won’t do any spoilers…….but, suffice it to say, if you go see it, you’ll want to take tissues —- lots and lots of tissues!!!

Lady Gaga does do a phenomenal job as Ally. Her voice is amazing and she breathes life into the character in a way that both surprised me and felt completely natural. I think we’ll see more of her on the big screen……at least I hope we will! Bradley Cooper……well, duh!!! He was perfect as Jackson (Jack) Maine – those gorgeous eyes of his – they penetrate from the screen to each and every viewer – in every role he plays he manages to ensure everyone who watches feels a personal connection! And, as usual, he portrayed the character easily and brilliantly! BTW – he also directed the film AND co-wrote the screenplay!!! And…..if Bradley Cooper wasn’t enough eye candy for one film, they threw in Sam Elliott as Bobby – Jack’s brother and manager! OMG……just a bit of handsomeness overload going on in this film!!! The surprise was Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s father…….I kept looking at him thinking “that man sounds and sorta looks like Andrew Dice Clay”, but he wasn’t his usual “in your face” comic with dark hair and a black leather jacket, so it threw me off — I had to read the credits after to see if it was really him and – yes – it was!!! I liked this Andrew…..I hope to see more of him in roles like this!

So, how does it compare to the other three versions? I already told you it didn’t knock the 1976 version off its pedestal, but it did come a very close second. All four version, of course, have the same basic story line……but, they all have their differences to make them stand on their own. In the 1937 (original) version, the stars were Janet Gaynor and Fredrick March and the lead characters were Esther Victoria Blodgett – an aspiring actress who took on the screen name of Vicki Lester – and Norman Maine – an actor at the end of his career. The 1954 version had the incomparable Judy Garland and James Mason and they kept the same names for the lead characters – the difference was the addition of a musical element, as Esther (Vicki) was a singer with Norman being an actor breaking her into Hollywood. The 1976 version really shook things up with Barbara Streisand as Esther Hoffman – a singer who refused to change her name – and Kris Kristofferson as John Norman Howard – a larger than life rock star! The current (2018) version kept music as the primary theme – Lady Gaga’s character is a pop singer known only as Ally and Bradley Cooper is a country music star whose name is Jackson (Jack) Maine (bringing back the last name of the earlier versions). Some of the most notable, memorable scenes are consistent from version to version, but there are other subtle differences – aside from the names and careers of the main characters – in each (the first two are most closely matched). Not to spoil it for those who have not seen any version, yet, but to let those who have seen it and have an expectation of the ending……the current version ends the same, just differently…..so, yes, you’ll need tissues – lots of tissues!!!

         

Yes – I enjoyed ALL four versions — I’d rank them in order of least to most favorite as: 1937, 1954, 2018, 1976. And, for someone who didn’t want to consider a remake after the 1976 version, I actually can’t wait to see how they do it next time…….hope they do it again in my lifetime – the first three were ~20 years apart (give or take) and the last one came 42 years after the best one — guess that was smart! So — my rating: I give this one a BIG TWO thumbs up and a solid 4.8 out of 5.0……only because it didn’t top the 1976 version and I didn’t sob quite as hard as I still do every time I see Streisand/Kristofferson – even after at least a gazillion times, so I probably unfairly deducted 0.2. Go see it……whether you’ve seen the other versions or not……and, work towards seeing them all at some point! You won’t be sorry!

 

October Daily Photos…..continued

If you remember earlier this month, I wrote that the October Daily Photo Challenge topics were all related to colors. Here are some I came up with since the last time I posted:

Orange

Aqua

Grey

Black

Fave Color

Natural

Baby Pink / Baby Blue (combo pic)

Chocolate

Light

Until next time……

Swimming With Dolphins in Bermuda!

THE # one BEST thing I did in Bermuda was a one hour shore excursion…….I had the BEST time EVER…….I absolutely LOVED every minute of it……..I’m so glad I did it…….a memory of a lifetime!!!

I saw the excursion option for Dolphin Quest and got really excited! But…….I started to debate myself about it – it was a lot of $$$ – I have a swim suit, but never wear it and wasn’t sure I wanted to wear it in public – I know how to swim, but haven’t in years……and on and on……I kept arguing with myself about it – just do it – when will you ever get the chance to do it again – it’s only money and it will be worth it – you’ll never see these people again, so who cares if you wear a bathing suit in front of them!!! My heart finally won the argument and I am SOOOOOOO glad it did!!! It was such an amazing experience and I’ll never forget it! Hands down, the best part of the entire trip! And……I not only didn’t feel a bit uncomfortable in my swim suit, I’m actually going to post photos of me wearing it on here……because I HAVE to share the experience with you all…….so, don’t judge me…….LOL!!!

It was a small group – only four of us – a couple, me, and another single lady! So, it was great – we each had group time and individual time with the dolphins! There was a professional photographer there capturing our experience…..of course, I couldn’t pick just a few photos, so I bought them ALL!!! LOL We had to wear life jackets and they were so good that there was no way our heads were going under the water unless we wanted them to! The water in the lagoon was about 15-18 feet deep, but the jackets kept us afloat to where it looked like we were standing with our feet on the ground in water about chest deep!

If you don’t believe me that I had a good time……just look at the smiles on my face in the photos — I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing……resulting in a lot of mouthfuls of yucky salt water…..but, heck – it was worth it!!!

We started out standing on the ledge and waving at the dolphins as they swam by……they were very excited to see us!!!

Then, we sat on the ledge and they swam by so we could pet them and they could get used to us!

We each took turns feeding them fish and saying “hello”

We each also had individual turns with them doing tricks for us – I was told to hold my hands out and wave…..

My dolphin leaped up out of the water and waved back enthusiastically — splashing and dancing and giving me my first mouthful of salt water!

It was a mutually fun activity!!!

After a little while, we got in the water one at a time for more up close and personal time with the dolphins

We held hands and danced

I put my hands out and she laid her head in my hands

I clapped and cheered to praise her and she got all excited and danced around for me

THEN I KISSED A DOLPHIN AND I LOVED IT!!!! LOL

We did some group things with the dolphins — we put masks on and were told to do the dead man’s float with our face in the water while the dolphins swam under us……but, I couldn’t do it — I’m not sure why – I put my face under water when I swim, but there was something about that mask, I guess…….I wanted to gasp for air and, of course, that filled my mouth with salt water…..so, they had me remove the mask and just do the above water things……I wasn’t the only one – two out of the four of us panicked when we tried to put our faces in the water!

Here I am feeding one of the dolphins a big fish as a reward for playing with us!

Me and one other girl missing out on the underwater stuff…..oh well…….

To close out the session, we returned to sitting on the ledge and petting the dolphins as they swam by

Then, we stood up and waved “goodbye” and the dolphins put their tails in the air and waved back!!!

What fun…..I am so glad my heart beat out my brain and I was able to do this……and, I’d do it again in a heart beat!!!