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Welcome to my blog. Essays on my thoughts on anything and everything, original photography, philosophical musings, spiritual beliefs, political rants, and shameless promotion of things I think are good for us individually, collectively as citizens of the United States of America and good stewards of the planet Earth. We must honor our higher lights and face our inner demons in the diverse forms they appear in our world. The more people with whom we can share common awareness, regardless of our egocentric perception, the larger our personal share of the Human Spirit.

Many of the photographs on the blog are original photography taken by me with my trusty cell phones and now BlackBerry. Some others have been with an array of off the shelf digital cameras. The subtle double rainbow on the title was photographed east of my home on 10/15/2010 at 6:23 PM on my BlackBerry. For a campy, tongue in cheek look at the meaning or non-meaning of double rainbows, check this out, or if you're more interested this...

Thanks for visiting. Feel free to leave comments, pro or con. It's how we learn from each other. Peace


-Gerard


7/02/2011

Happy Independence Day 2011






Zack and I wish you and your family a
Happy and Safe 4th of July!







On Friday evening, Zack and I started our holiday weekend with an annual tradition,

The Small Ships Review in Sharon PA.


Sponsored by area classic rock radio station Y-103 and downtown hot spot, Quaker Steak and Lube the weekend festivities start out with a parade of Small Ships participants through downtown Sharon, to the shrieks and thrill of hundreds of parade watchers.  Kids of course front and center to catch the tons of candy thrown from the many creative vessels on their way to the launch site on the north side of the city.

The parade was led by sponsors Y-103 and Quaker Steak and Lube's famous Wingless Chicken.
 

Some of the Y-103 crew got to ride in style.

One of my favorite entries was this pretty accurate replica of the US Space Shuttle Atlantis, complete with orange jumpsuited "astronauts" and crew. The booster rocket exhaust smoke was created by a nearly odorless, non-toxic smoke machine.  The float was outfitted with hydraulics that raised the horizontal spacecraft to the  nose-up attitude seen here. 

In some cases the ingenuity and creativity applied to the flotilla models is truly awe inspiring.


I was later able to catch the vessel and crew during a quiet moment on a side street, lined up waiting to launch (into the river) with the rest of the entrants.  As you may know, the shuttle fleet is being retired by NASA, so this was a nice salute to a great American tradition of adventure and discovery.  Space really is the next frontier.

  





Thanks to FaceBook friend Heather Ainsley
who uploaded this picture to her wall
as the shuttle "soars" over the river.
One of the crowd favorites was this full size Amish carriage complete with an authentic looking Pennsylvania Amish Dutch "family."  A local newspaper reported the day after that a local Amish family loaned the buggy and clothing to this "Yankee" family to use for the day.  They've made invaluable contributions to the local economy and history.  

The carriage is a genuine Amish buggy and harness.  It is a reminder of the diversity of the people that make up this great country of ours.   The Amish are quite prevalent in this part of the country.  In areas both in PA and over the Ohio line, within a few minutes drive, the Amish offer a variety of handmade goods and articles including tasty homemade breads, pies, pastries, jams and other goodies, handcrafted tack for horses, household goods like candles and linens, clothing and furniture.  They're work is tauted as some of the best craftsmanship in the country.  When you sit on a wooden rocker completely fabricated from wood cut by Amish axemen, you can feel the rock solid strength of their heritage and culture that goes into each item they make and sell in many local venues.  Amish stores can be found in nearby Volant, PA and northern Trumbull County, OH.

Like every rural area in America, our local farmers provide us a variety of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, beef, pork, chickens and turkey, as well as fresh eggs and dairy.  One of my personal favorites is the several varieties of corn that will be ready for the table in just a few more weeks.  If you visit Mercer County, be sure to try some of the local fare.


Mercer County Pennsylvania is a decidedly conservative area of the state and home to a very active group of Tea Party Patriots  some of whom, by the way are very nice people, and whom I count among my friends and professional associates.  Although the Shenango Valley was once a bedrock of the steel industry and mostly liberal, union supported Democratic, over the years with the fall of the steel industry, union membership decline, and the rise of the Christian conservative movement, conservative politics arose out of the rural, patriotic, God fearing gentry of Mercer County, who over the last 10 - 20 years have supported primarily Republican candidates and causes  in state and federal politics.   The Mercer County Courthouse, located in the center of the county seat of Mercer, PA, about 15 miles east of Sharon, has been the sight of several well attended enthusiastic Tea Party rallies. It is easy to understand why family farm owners in the country tend to lean significantly toward the Taxed Enough Already party of American patriotism.  The Democratic Party is still active in Mercer, but today like many days, the Conservatives caught my attention.
As I was watching the boat launchings, I noticed the Tea Party Patriot having some problems getting started.  Stuck on the rocks in shallow water near the launch site.  Of course, the wheels were turning in my head on how this might make ironic political commentary about how the Tea Party is having trouble getting into the race; too many oars in the water, no unity of purpose, not working together, a rudderless ship...  It's a fun national holiday, my favorite, so in the spirit of fun, I may get in one or two little pokes.  I will say this about the USS Patriot, she was a worthy vessel, and passed easily as a replica of an early American war ship defending Boston harbor.  Kinda cool.

Never to be outdone or left behind, those hardy patriots were able to get their worthy vessel off of the rocks and into the mainstream - well the mainstream of the river.  But their ship seemed to want to keep turning right, even though the river went left.  But that feisty Tea Party Patriot, her course sure and true, finally headed off down the river to the hoots and cheers of their supporters.











Even though the river went left, the Tea Party Patriot stayed true to it's ideological bearing and set it's heading to the right, but still couldn't get away from the left bank.  Oh, that's the problem...

Before proceeding on in the race, the Tea Party Patriot had to make a stop at a riverside insurance and bank building to collect some of that reformed campaign financing from the big money corporations in town.  Ok, ok. I know - cheap shot.  But a picture is worth a thousand words.

 Finally, the Tea Party Patriot was able to "right" her course down the river and head off to the finish line to cheering well wishers, albeit not at the head of the pack.  The Tea Party Patriot survived this harrowing voyage to reach the end of the race and run another day.  Happy Independence Day Patriots!





Remember the "Rock-em Sock-em Robots" we played with as kids.  Using your thumbs to press levers that caused the arms and fists to throw fast and furious punches with the intention of "knocking your opponents block off."   In one of the most ingenious themes of the night, two life-size Rock-em Sock-em's square off on a side street while waiting to float down the river on their floating fight ring.  My money was on the red guy, but to my dismay he got his "block knocked off!"  Maybe we should make our national leaders  square off in the boxing ring and avoid some of the nasty battles in the halls of Congress.

The sun sets behind an old steel railroad bridge on the Shenango River,
after a day of unique entertainment and fun.


As the sun set over the West Hill of the City of Sharon and darkness fell, the river provided the backdrop for a classic nighttime picture of lighted cityscape and river. As I've said before, we usually don't have to travel far from home for those little photographic gems hiding around every corner. 

 Because I was so far away and used the zoom feature on my phone to take the pictures, they are a little fuzzy, but a couple entertaining kids, who were posted on top of the bank/insurance building featured in my earlier Tea Party commentary found out that they could entertain us with a 3 story high shadow show - using their whole bodies to cast 40 or 50 feet high dancers, fighters and finger shadow animals.

I wish that I had had the video camera going, because it was quite a show to see, and probably would have once again made interesting You-Tube fodder.  At least this time, I have a few stills to capture the moment.  Shortly after the shadow show, the fireworks began, and offered a opportunity to get some great pictures of fire over water.  Enjoy - and to all my friends and neighbors, Democrats, Republicans and even the Tea Party Patriots - Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!
God Bless the USA!








































And the grand finale begins. The end of a great fireworks display.  It was pretty cool because as far away as I was, I could hear the Y-103 simulcast of patriotic music, including Lee Greenwood's, "Proud to Be an American!"  Today, party politics aside, we can all be proud to celebrate the great heritage of the Untied State of America!







My own photograph of the Shenango River just below the dam at the Shenango Reservoir in Sharpsville PA.  The river provides trout fishing, along with a variety of other pan and sport fishing.  Ecology efforts have restored a once dying river to a vibrant little spot in our valley to enjoy nature and freedom.
 The Shenango River that runs from the Shango Dam and Reservoir provides a waterway that locals use to fish and canoe.  Before the dam was built, spring and summer floods were common place in downtown Sharon, inundating riverside business and industry.  Locals formed the Shenango River Watchers to help clean-up and preserve the natural beauty of another of our inland waterways. 

If you would like to support the river preservation efforts, click the picture below.

4 comments:

  1. This was one of the most enjoyable posts I have read in ages. Hats off to you for making many of us (left, right and center) smile, reminding us we can agree to disagree without being angry and that we are proud to be American.

    Nice photography! I have considered moving to your area from SoCal for the last few years. I'm quite sure it is not always this sunny. That is a drawback but the cost of living might help mitigate the lack of sunshine in winter :-)

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  2. Thanks KP for your kind comments. Having grown up here in Northeast Ohio and Northwestern Pennsylvania probably makes me a little biased, but the area I am in is the middle of a triangle formed by Cleveland and Akron, Ohio and Pittsburgh PA - all three vibrant mid-American cities, both in the cities and the surrounding areas. While definitely not SoCA - this typically mid-western part of the country provides a nice place to raise family. Jobs are still somewhat scarce, but technology and light manufacturing are making somewhat of a comeback. The weather here is fairly moderate, hot in the summer, cold in the winter. The ratio of rain to sunshine is weighted definitely toward sunshine in the summer, although there are times, especially during the colder times of the year that it seems we're living in the Pacific northwest. Have a great 4th and thanks for posting.

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  3. "While definitely not SoCA - this typically mid-western part of the country provides a nice place to raise family".

    That is what really attracts me. My kids are already 20 and 24 but I miss the warmth of small town. I grew up in a SoCal beach community of Carpinteria. It was only 13,000 people in the 60s and early 70s. One stop light. Today it is still only 14,000 people, shut off from the masses by geography (the ocean and hills). I am a small town guy stuck in spawling San Diego. I never should have left Carp and it is too expensive to go back. So I will probably move out of state. Thanks for the chamber add!

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  4. No problem. Come to beautiful sunny Ohio, a great place to live! OK, enough with the ads. I've got a chance to travel around a little, and had the choice to move to SoCa years ago, but chose to come back here. Thanks again for commenting.

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