Date Ideas

Weekend Getaway: Get your weekend at Charley Creek Inn!

Lobby of the lovely Charley Creek Inn, Wabash, Indiana. It’s delightful small-town charm in the Midwest.

More to come on this lovely boutique hotel in charming Wabash, Indiana…but there’s a Charley Creek Inn Groupon deal right now you’ll not want to miss.

Check out Charley Creek Inn website here for photos that are true to the charm you’ll find.

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Why have you made me like this?

“Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” ~ Romans 9:20b-21 (NKJV)

Wheel-throwing clay during my recent date at Bisque It Pottery in Fort Wayne. My teacher is Ashlyn Emberton. For more info on their classes visit their website: http://www.bisqueitpottery.com/Clay.html

Categories: Artistic Dates, Date Ideas, Date Night, Pure Fun, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“So I went down to the p…

“So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw [her] working at the wheel.”

Jeremiah 18:3 – NIV

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Solo Traveling: Surprising Moments with Nature

The wharf at Mount Vernon with nesting osprey on the front piling.

Sometimes nature offers up the best surprises!

Like it did on my visit to Mount Vernon, the home of our first president, George Washington. Among the pristine gardens, the stately riverfront home, the history, and the visitors, was a rough-hewn home and feathered family who captured my heart.

Osprey nest on piling at Mount Vernon wharf – home of President George Washington

Though they’re common place among east coast dwellers, to those of us living in “fly-over” states, the magnificent osprey are a rare treat, indeed.

So often in life, as the saying goes, things come in threes. That’s what happened with my osprey adventure.

  1. Early one morning I awoke and found myself enthralled with a PBS television nature show. More specifically, their piece about osprey, which described their nesting habits, their family patterns, and showed some wonderful demonstrations of their amazing deep-dive fishing abilities.
  2. Little did I realize that just a few short hours later, I would come face-to-face with a real-life osprey family living atop a piling along the banks of the Potomac River at the Mount Vernon wharf. According to an article on the osprey family, the pair have nested on the estate in prior years in the top of a sycamore tree. In the summer of 2010, their nest was destroyed when the top of the tree was lost during a storm. Undaunted, the pair returned this spring and built a new home on the top of the wharf piling – just inches from where the tour boat, Spirit of Mount Vernon, boards passengers six days a week.  That’s how I met them.

    My up-close and personal meeting with the osprey of Mount Vernon wharf – a bit blurry from my excitement:(

  3. A couple of days after my visit to Mount Vernon, some friends took me on a boat ride out into the Chesapeake Bay. To my delight every channel marker seemed to be the home of an osprey family. As little chicks poked their heads out of the nests, parents sat guard or flew off in search of the family’s next meal. My only disappointment was not seeing any of them deep-dive fishing. But nature watching does take patience, I suppose. Thanks to these great videos, however, we can all enjoy the amazing abilities of the osprey to “fish.”

You can watch a brief video I took of the osprey here, and see the parent take flight as the Spirit of Mount Vernon pulls closer. Mount Vernon Osprey nest

A live webcam of an osprey nest can be found here if you’re interested in watching them in action.

Ponder & Chat: Have a favorite nature story you can share with us? Where are you favorite spots for dates with nature?

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Solo Traveling: Would George Washington Own an iPad?

“No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this….” ~George Washington on his Mount Vernon home

George Washington’s Mount Vernon home as seen from the Potomac River

For nearly half a century George Washington preened and prospered his Mount Vernon estate to 8,000 acres along the beautiful banks of the Potomac River. An 18th century entrepreneurial farmer, he developed and utilized a number of innovative technologies. We’d probably label them “cutting-edge” today.

The 16-sided barn invented by George Washington to more efficiently thrash grain.

For example, he invented a 16-sided barn to more effectively thrash wheat and collect its berries. He purchased the third patent on a water-powered gristmill that allowed him to more efficiently grind his wheat, corn and other grains. Just a couple of years before his death, he built a whiskey distillery that ultimately supplied nearly 11,000 gallons of whiskey a year to the Alexandria, Virginia, marketplace. Washington experimented with gardening and fertilization techniques and utilized the Potomac to develop a fish export business.

Of course, during this time he also led a Revolutionary Army, served as the first president of the United States, and offered his obvious talents in many other ways to his new nation. You know, simple things!

As I walked the beautiful gardens and sat on the front lawn overlooking the river, I couldn’t help but think George would have owned one of the first iPhones and iPads. He’d have had a website to sell products online. He’d have blogged to promote ideas and  conversation, and his KindleFire would be loaded with books and ideas.

Ponder & Chat: Which of the Founding Fathers have inspired you and why?

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A Word of Encouragement on Painting (& Life) from Vincent

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Ponder & Chat: How does this principle apply to other areas of your life? What’s happened when you have lived this principle?

Categories: Artistic Dates, Date Ideas, Reflections, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I’ve done what I could…and my painting is open to criticism; that’s enough”

“I’ve done what I could as a painter and that seems to me to be sufficient. I don’t want to be compared to the great masters of the past, and my painting is open to criticism; that’s enough.” ~ Claude Monet

Thanks to Wine and Canvas for a great date night and first painting class.

With my version of Monet’s “Water Lillies, 1916” painted on one of 52 Dates with Myself

Ponder & Chat: What are you working on today that you’re ready to put out to the world?

Categories: Artistic Dates, Challenges, Commitment, Date Ideas, Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How I got in a fine fettle with Monet

“Take clear water with grass waving at the bottom. It’s wonderful to look at, but to try to paint it is enough to make one insane.” ~ Claude Monet

Insane or not with the help of a great deal from Living Social ($17) and a fun company called Wine & Canvas, I had a great time painting my very own rendition of Monet’s Water Lilies, 1916, including working to capture that grass waving at the bottom.

Enjoying working on a “masterpiece” on a recent night of 52 Dates with Myself

Nearly 30 of us – one or two brave men among all the women – met at The Factory restaurant in Fort Wayne and enjoyed an evening of painting, singing, and – for those so inclined – a glass of wine. (The singing to Don McLean’s, Bye, Bye, Miss American Piewas impromptu, not included in the price of the “date,” and indicative of the relaxed and fun atmosphere.)

I’d always wanted to take a painting class just to see what might be secretly waiting to erupt on canvas. This was a great way to dip in and try my hand, to make a start.

My impression so far is as Monet once said,

“No, I’m not a great painter. Neither am I a great poet.”

Of course, we all know his criticism of himself was quite unfounded. Of me, it’s apropos.

Never mind that! I’m a work in progress and for now along with Monet, I find,

“I’m in a fine fettle and fired with a desire to paint.”

Ponder & Chat: What are you in a “fine fettle and fired with desire” to do? How can we encourage you to begin?

Categories: "Cheap" Dates, Artistic Dates, Date Ideas, Date Night, Pure Fun, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I See Arlington Through Different Eyes Now

Photo taken on my visit to Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“When we were visiting here all those years ago, we could never have dreamed we would one day be here for something like this.”

Yet here we were on the first Friday of September 2011 following behind the caisson of a young Army Captain killed in the line of duty. This special young man and dear friend to my daughter, also an Army Captain, had left a clear message that he had died doing what he loved to do. Indeed, what he felt called to do. Nevertheless, the bitterness of losing him tragically permeated our hearts and lives. Burying him in Arlington has forever changed these hallowed acres for me. Now more than ever, I understand

  • there’s an amazing life story that can never be adequately represented by a simple granite stone.
  • the ongoing sense of honor and comradeship encapsulated in a soldier’s final request to be forever laid to rest near others who have served, and perhaps paid the ultimate price for doing so.
  • the haunting collective and individual beauty encapsulated in the precise angles and lines of row upon row of white headstones.
  • the true sense of the cost of war.
  • the honor and gratitude due those resting within and those left standing afterwards.
On this Memorial Day, I hope you took time to reflect on those who have served our nation in the armed forces. And perhaps one of your 52 Dates with Yourself might be a visit to one of our national cemeteries. Consider taking some flowers with you to leave as a token of thanks for some of those resting there.
Ponder & Chat: For a complete list of U.S. National Cemeteries click here. What National Cemeteries have you visited? What stories did you discover on your visit?
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One Man’s Journey After the Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103

Sharing here the link to an article written by a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter on December 21, 1993, the day ground was broken at Arlington National Cemetery for the building of The Lockerbie Cairn that would memorialize the 270 souls lost on Flight 103, when it was destroyed by a terrorist bomb attack on December 21, 1988.

David O’Reilly’s article tells mostly the story of one man’s journey after the bombing, yet it also illustrates the greater bonding of human souls forged in shared grief and tragedy.

“The Women of Lockerbie,” a 90-minute play loosely based on stories from the aftermath of the bombing of Flight 103, can be seen this weekend at the Allen County Public Library. The production is presented by all for One productions, inc. For ticket information and times, click here.

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