All Things

Foggy start

Nothing would please me more than to tell Linda that “I got nothing” for this prompt. Unfortunately, May has been an all-out crazy month. I was going to explain some of this in a quick update on Monday, but since Linda offered this prompt, and the prospect of bonus points, I figured now was as good a time as any:

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “all or nothing.” Use one, use both, use them any way you’d like. Bonus points if you start and end your post with one (or each) of them. Enjoy!

Some of you know some of the things in this update. Some of you have guessed about some things, and several of you have asked questions. There’s no escaping the community that is WordPress, and that’s a good thing.

I’ll start with some bad news. My mom passed away a couple of weeks ago. Although her passing wasn’t entirely unexpected, the timing was a bit of a surprise. I’m not going to go into the details, other than to say she lived a long (92 years) and good life, and she passed away while in the care of loving family members. Her funeral was this past weekend in Pittsburgh.

For those of you in the Maddie Fan Club – a group that might be larger than those who appreciate my wit and skill as a writer – Maddie is doing better. We aren’t quite sure what happened to Maddie, she either fell or pulled a muscle while jumping out of the chair she shouldn’t have been using to look out of a window when I came home. The incident caused what can only be described as a panic attack, resulting in noises we hope never to hear again. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain, but she’s still moving slower and more conservatively, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In addition to these things, I’ve been dealing with sudden hearing loss in my right ear since late April. I haven’t heard (get it?) the end of that story, but I’ll give you an update on my condition and the condition of healthcare in America when I do. Actually, I’m sure most of you are aware of the condition of healthcare in America, and none of us know when we’ll hear the end of that story.

In case you haven’t noticed, blog posts have been shorter in recent weeks. I’ve also been late responding to comments and I’ve skipped a bunch of posts in my inbox. I am starting to catch up. I have a slew of posts in my drafts folder, a pile of pictures in Lightroom and I’ve copied a couple of your URLs that might just inspire a post from me.

There are some interesting things I’d like to share about my mom, but this isn’t the time and I might come to realize that they are only interesting to me. Maddie will be back dragging me around the park in a week or so. Activity at No Facilities will get back to normal, which means posts will return to their usual length – sorry. Also, we haven’t been to the bar recently, but we will be heading back soon.

That is all.

Posted in Family, SoCS | Tagged , , , , | 99 Comments

Thursday Doors – St. Augustine Lighthouse

Welcome to St. Augustine Lighthouse!

As I mentioned yesterday, a brief meeting in St. Augustine, bracketed by flights in and out of Daytona Beach, FL left me with little time for sightseeing. I did manage to collect a bunch of photos that I will share at some point, but the highlight of my travel was touring the lighthouse in St. Augustine. I love lighthouses and this one is beautiful, well preserved and maintained, and includes a Light Keeper’s House and museum. It just doesn’t get any better.

Since I have way too many photos to share in any one blog post, I culled out the photos with doors in them to share in Thursday Doors.


Thursday Doors is a weekly gathering of the fleet of door aficionados from all over the world. Light Keeper, Norm Frampton lights the lamp Thursday morning and keeps it burning until noon Saturday. If you have a door to share, or just want to see some amazing doors, set sail for the official Thursday Doors lighthouse in Montreal. Once that’s in sight, look at Norm’s doors, then look for the blue frog. Click that tadpole to be guided safely into the harbor.

I’m going to quote some of the information from the Lighthouse history page. They’ve done a better job researching and writing than I could. I urge you to visit the page, as their history is more complete and I would absolutely urge you to visit the lighthouse if you’re ever in the area. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. It offers a rich collection of historic buildings, and a remarkable fort – you might need more than one day. According to the website:

“A Spanish watchtower, built in the late 1500’s was the predecessor of the present St. Augustine Lighthouse. St. Augustine is the site of the oldest, permanent aid to navigation in North America.”

The lighthouse is built with Alabama brick and, as you might have seen yesterday, iron stairs, railings and landings that were made in Philadelphia. The light is topped with a hand-blown, nine-foot-tall, Fresnel lens, that was constructed in Paris, France, and remains one of only a few such operating lenses in the United States.

“The St. Augustine Lighthouse rises 165 feet above sea level and contains 219 steps that are climbed by visitors. At the top, the original, first order Fresnel lens still serves the beacon, but today is lit by a 1000 watt bulb, and maintained by the museum and volunteers. The St. Augustine lens consists of 370 hand-cut glass prisms arranged in a beehive shape towering twelve feet tall and six feet in diameter… The Lighthouse is St. Augustine’s oldest surviving brick structure, and today the site is restored to colors and materials used in the year 1888.”

“In 1876, a brick light keeper’s house was added to the property, a triplex that held two families and a young, single, 2nd assistant keeper. Light keepers’ and their assistants lived and worked at the Light Station until the tower was automated in 1955.”

Standing guard over a coastline that is regularly subjected to high winds and punishing rain, the lighthouse had to be strong. That required strong doors and windows. As I stopped to catch my breath let others pass on my way up, I enjoyed a stiff cool breeze entering those windows. It occurred to me that, it wasn’t all that windy a day. But, the higher I climbed, the more the wind made its presence known.

The light keepers home was a wonderful tour in and of itself. I will put together a post about that later, but I’m including the door photos here. I’ll stop yammering now, and offer the gallery of photos. Click on any one to begin a slide show. I have added captions to further explain some of the cool things that I saw on the tour.

Posted in Photography, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 81 Comments

One-Liner Wednesday – Exercise

St. Augustine Lighthouse

I once worked with a man who was a self-proclaimed exercise guru. He worked out regularly at a gym, and discussed his workout routine, if you were interested. I’d heard the stories and I was well-aware of the machines he used, including, the Stair Master.

One day, we were coming into the office together. I didn’t realize that he had split off from me, as I was on my way to the staircase, so that he could take the elevator. When we met again on the 3rd floor, I asked him why he didn’t take the stairs. He said:

Real stairs don’t count!

The timing of that comment helped it to live on in our family. At the time, I was adding a second floor to our house. I was routinely schlepping stuff up and down a ladder, working off a ladder and working off staging that required climbing a ladder for access. When my wife would see me trudging back up, she would often say: “Too bad that isn’t exercise.” We share that comment back and forth to this day.

A few weeks ago, I was on my way to St. Augustine from Daytona Beach. Cheryl, yes, the real Cheryl, the one who moonlights in my bar on certain Saturdays, had suggested I take the coast highway instead of the Interstate. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I had enough to swing by and tour the St. Augustine Lighthouse. I’m not going to share much information about the lighthouse today, and I’m not sharing all the photos – because it has doors, hint, hint – but I will mention that is has 219 steps and I climbed them all. To which my wife said:

Too bad they don’t count!

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday. You can follow this link to see the one-liners from the other participants.

Posted in One Line Wed, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 65 Comments

Mystery Blogger Award

Huh? Dan doesn’t do awards. Well, truth be told, Dan almost always does plans to thinks about doing wishes he had done – Oh, who am I kidding, Dan doesn’t do awards. So, why on earth is the first and likely only award I’m ever going to deal with, is one where I was nominated by a young woman, Emily Susanne, whose tag line is:

“Growing in God and Inspiring Young Women Through Faith and Fashion”

I mean the God part works for me, but the rest is a bit off the mark.

Emily writes “Fearfully Wonderfully Me.” I think I met Emily when I was hosting Just-Jot-January for Linda G. Hill, and I think I was attracted to her blog by the title. Since the format of this award is similar to others, I thought I could satisfy a bunch of them in one post. I’ll put all the rules and junk at the bottom, or, better yet, go read Emily’s blog. She has all that stuff listed. See, this is why I don’t do awards, I stink at following directions.

Anyway, I’m supposed to tell you three things about myself. Well, these won’t surprise anyone, but here we go:

1) I am married. I have a lovely/loving wife, a beautiful daughter who is on her own, and my wife and I share our house with two Tuxedo cats and one dopey Irish Setter.

2) I enjoy photography, woodworking, cranes, trains and planes and I like riding my bike (the pedal kind).

3) I was born, raised, educated in and permanently aligned with the sports teams of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Let’s Go Pens!

Now, I have to answer Emily’s five questions:

1. Would you rather skydive or bungee jump (if you had to choose)?

I’m going to go with neither. I like stable platforms on which to stand and in which to travel. I guess, if I was in a plane that was going to crash, I’d try a parachute. How’s that?

2. Name a pet peeve of yours.

“A pet peeve?” I guess that means one. OK, I’m going to go with “when people are mean.” That covers a lot of ground, but if you’re being mean, to people, animals, the earth, God or yourself, I’m not happy with you.

3. What do you like to do to relax?

Of all the things I like to do, writing is the thing that helps me relax. People often comment that I’m organized and dedicated to this writing stuff – me, organized? – but it’s a selfish pursuit.

4. What is something you’ve learned over this past year?

The plural of dilemma is dilemmata. Seriously, I have a draft blog post of the stuff I’ve learned this year, and that one of them. I learned that from Marian Allen. You can learn a bunch of stuff from her.

5. What’s your favorite summertime treat?

Ice cream. Specifically, a Flurry from The Dairy Cream in Windsor Locks, made with chocolate soft-serve and chunks of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Here’s where I’m supposed to nominate 10 – 20 of you. I know that a lot of you don’t do awards, so I’ll offer five questions as a writing prompt. Do the award, do the questions – your choice. As Linda would say, “have fun!” Before I get to that, I want to thank Emily. I like her blog, I sometimes skip the fashion tips, although I do need to learn how to accessorize better. OK, here are your five questions:

1) If you’re no longer living where you were born, would you like to return? If you are living there, have you ever thought about moving?

2) Coke or Pepsi?

3) Continuing Emily’s theme a bit, what’s one thing you hope to learn in 2017?

4) How much money would I have to offer to get you to do an Algebra word problem in front of a live audience?

5) What was the last natural disaster that you were affected by? (None is an acceptable answer, and you’ve lived a magical life).

Comments are enabled today, but I will be very late in responding. As always, thanks so much for stopping by No Facilities. By the way, the Gallery might be a bit of a mystery – I’ll explain at some point.

Posted in Awards, Blogging, Prompt | Tagged , , , , | 52 Comments

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to my lovely editor and all the mothers in this wonderful community. I’m going to close comments here. If you have some time, visit one of those special women.

Posted in Absent Friends, Family | Tagged , , , ,

Train Day 2017

As I mentioned in an earlier post, AMTRAK officially killed off National Train Day due to budget concerns (as if I needed another reason to be disappointed with Congress). However, they can’t stop me from celebrating Train Day. I’m using their logo – my taxes paid for it – and I’m keeping their holiday alive in case they ever want to come back and support it.

I could say that my choice of trains today is to let AMTRAK know that they aren’t the only railroad I care about, but that’s not the reason. I’m choosing to share photos and a little information about the Connecticut Trolley Museum because it’s such a good organization and the volunteers have done a wonderful job making the experience a little better each year. My wife thinks wonders worries that I might end up there after I retire. I can say that it wouldn’t be the worst option. I’d much rather spend my retirement fixing a train than someone’s computer.

I’m going to borrow some text off the museum’s webpage, but just to tease you and encourage you to visit their webpage (and the museum if you’re ever in this area). The museum is actually older than I thought:

“The Connecticut Electric Railway Association, Inc. is the owner and operator of the Connecticut Trolley Museum. Founded in October 1940, it is the nation’s oldest incorporated organization dedicated to the preservation of the trolley era.”

Today, the museum has 1 ½ miles of overhead-electrified track and offers the 3-mile round trip excursion every half hour. It’s so cool to ride on a vintage trolley. It’s mildly disturbing that some of the rolling stock that is “museum quality” is reminiscent of trolleys I actually rode on when I was a kid.

I used to ride the trolley into Pittsburgh with my mother. This is at the Heinz History Museum

My mother worked in a department store in downtown Pittsburgh, and each year at Christmas, she would take me to the store on her day off so I could visit Santa (until not necessary), wander around the toy department and visit the rather large switchboard room where she worked. I’m not sure she was thrilled to learn that the highlight of that trip was the trolley ride to and from Pittsburgh. Trolleys had their own tunnel through Mt. Washington and their own bridge across the Monongahela River!

One new addition to the Connecticut museum is the “Aisle of Safety” which used to stand outside the Old State House in Hartford at the point where commuter buses converge from the various suburbs. When I say “used to stand,” I should add that it was standing when I first moved to Hartford in 1981.

Please click on any one of my photos to start a slide show. I added captions so I could keep this part short. Yes there are more than the usual number of photos. But, they’re train photos! Also, the lower gallery, which needs no captions, is some of the vintage signs in the cars.

Thanks for reading and Happy Train Day!

And, here’s those signs

Posted in Attractions, History | Tagged , , , , , | 61 Comments

Thursday Doors – Kelly Fradet Too

Welcome to Kelly-Fradet

One of my early Thursday Doors was of Kelly Fradet’s lumber yard on the east side of Enfield. They have four different locations, but the main yard is on the west side of town, near the river and the railroad. They still get shipments of lumber and other building material by rail. Sometimes, when you buy something at one store, they give you three options” pick it up at the main yard, wait for it to be transferred to your store or have it delivered. I almost always opt to pick it up, because I love going to the main yard.

The history of Kelly-Fradet starts a few years before my history starts. According to their website:

In 1951, Clarence “Red” Weeks and Lloyd Fradet began the Kelly-Fradet legacy by purchasing the Carmel Lumber Company in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Their goal was to provide the building industry with the best products and, more importantly, the most dependable, knowledgeable service available.

That last sentence is the reason I keep going back.

When I was a kid growing up near Pittsburgh, the place that that paragraph could describe was Silhol Lumber in Bridgeville, PA. Silhol was formed in 1945. The similarities between these two companies is more than them having formed around the same time, they have a similar approach to business. When I walk into Kelly-Fradet, it feels like when I went with my father to Silhol’s. I think they both understand the following statement by Red Weeks, co-founder of Kelly-Fradet”

Any business is a people business. It’s the families who work for Kelly-Fradet, and the customers who purchase from us, that create the foundation to our success!

The big-boxes have driven most local lumber yards out of business. There’s something special about the few that survive.

If you want to explore my doors, click on any door and start a slide show.

Thursday Doors is a weekly blog dance choreographed by Norm Frampton. If you want to join the troupe, chasse over to Norm’s place. Perform a heel turn and look around at Norm’s doors. Look for the blue frog. With a quick inside partner step, click on that tadpole and enter the main stage.

Posted in Customer Service, Home Repair, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , | 67 Comments