Thursday, September 21, 2017

Patapsco Valley State Park Last Look at Bloede Dam

Tom and Rob near Bloede Dam

Last weekend we went on a local investigation in search of an abandoned town in Maryland. Long story short, we didn't find it but figured out where it is for next time. However, we did wind up walking on a hike for about 2 hours through the Patapsco Valley State Park where we saw the Bloede Dam. 
Bloede Dam
   It turns out that the dam is being removed because it has caused a number of deaths and its removal can help repopulate fish like shad, herring, and American eels. The dam was built in 1907 when the state park was founded and has prevented these historic migrations. Even fish ladders constructed in the 1990's have proven to be ineffective.
Old fallen tree near the dam
 . According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and it's partners, the plan is to begin the removal of the Bloede Dam in summer/fall 2017.  The first phase of the project will involve the relocation of the 42" main sewer line which runs through the dam.  This will result in the closure of a portion of the Grist Mill Trail for approximately 18-20 months.  This initial phase will also require the removal of approximately 7 acres of trees in the vicinity of the dam and Grist Mill Trail.  A Forest Conservation Plan has been developed to ensure successful reforestation (more details to come).  Once the relocation of the sewer line is complete, work to remove the actual dam structure will begin in the fall of 2018 (Click for more info).




A support for the former Grist Mill
September 2017 Update:
Phase 1 of the project is expected to begin in September 2017.  This will begin the closure of a portion of the Grist Mill Trail.



THE GRIST MILL RUINS - We were on the wrong side of the river in our search for the now abandoned town of Daniels, Maryland, but the town had a Grist Mill, that's now in ruins. We did see the ruins of the mill. Actually, all that was left standing were some of the support walls.    
Add caption

GOING BACK - We'll go back to the area because we now know how to find the ghost town.


LOCATION - Patapsco Valley State Park - Daniels Area, 2090 Daniels Road
Ellicott City MD 21043
GPS 39313665 76.81557












Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Smithsonian Exhibit to see: Scenes of the crime, preserved in miniature



We like a good mystery. Tom is fascinated with the "forensic files" television program and I love reading mysteries. Now, a real-life exhibit opening in October at the Smithsonian appeals to both of us. Dollhouse death scenes, tools to train crime scene detectives, are being restored for exhibit at the Smithsonian  American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery. Here's a Baltimore Sun article about this interesting exhibit...


Scenes of the crime, preserved in miniature
Dollhouse death scenes, tools to train crime scene detectives, are being restored for exhibit at the Smithsonian  American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery

By Yvonne Wenger
The Baltimore Sun
   Using a tiny paintbrush, Ariel O’Connor carefully applied a compound to preserve the charred wall of a dollhouse featuring a grisly scene: The skull of a body lying in a bed inside peers out, beseeching the viewer to determine whether this was murder.
   The dollhouse is one in a series of model whodunits used to train generations of police detectives in crime scene investigation. It is being cleaned, repaired and stabilized to be showcased at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery beginning in October. It is the first time the collection, built about 70 years ago, will be on public display.
   “The location of everything in here is important and could be a clue,” said O’Connor, a Smithsonian conservator who is spending three months at the office of the chief medical examiner in Baltimore working on the tableaus. The “attention to detail is unbelievable,” she said. “You can see the craftsmanship on such a miniature scale.”


Ariel O'Connor, an objects conservator for the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is seen through the open wall of the “Burned Cabin” nutshell diorama as she brushes solvent on one of the sides. The dioramas are to be exhibited at the Smithsonian. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun )



   The exhibition, “Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” will be on display from Oct. 20 to Jan. 28. Visitors will be given flashlights and magnifying glasses to inspect the 19 dioramas, including “Pink Bathroom,” which depicts a widow found dead in her apartment by the building’s janitor. They will also be given access to the crime scene reports that investigators would receive during training. The solutions, however, will remain secret.
   Lee was a wealthy Chicago heiress who helped establish a forensic pathology program at Harvard University, earning her the title “godmother of forensic science.” She meticulously built the dollhouses beginning in the 1940s to portray homicides, suicides, and accidental and inexplicable deaths.
   They have been housed at the medical examiner’s office in Baltimore since 1966 after Harvard sought to discard them. Maryland’s medical examiner at the time, Russell S. Fisher, brought them here, where they have been teaching tools ever since.
   Nora Atkinson, the Smithsonian curator overseeing this exhibit, said the dollhouses also tell the story of a woman who revolutionized the male-dominated field of crime scene investigation. Not allowed to attend college, Lee got married at 19 and had three children, but later divorced. Years later, as her interest in forensics grew, she endowed a legal medicine department at Harvard in 1931, establishing herself in the new field.
Lee died in 1962 at age 83.
   The Smithsonian approached the medical examiner with the request to put the dioramas on exhibit after Atkinson found details about them while researching another artist.
Bruce Goldfarb, spokesman for the examiner’s office, said allowing them to go on public display came with the opportunity to have the Smithsonian undertake the expensive process of conserving Lee’s work. A less exhaustive conservation effort was undertaken in the early 1990s.
   Goldfarb said the project is desperately needed. The dioramas have been deteriorating, bulbs have burned out, pieces have come loose and fabrics are wearing. Some crimes can’t be interpreted as Lee intended them because of aging. For example: Fake blood on the widow’s face in “Pink Bathroom” has turned purple, wrongly suggesting decomposition or asphyxiation.
    “They are at a point now that things were cracking and crumbling and had they not been attended to very quickly, things would have broken to the point that would have been irreparable,” he said. “They came at just the right time.”
   A Smithsonian spokeswoman said the museum did not have a tally for the cost of the conservation work, which is taking about three months. The museum also did not provide the amount of the exhibition’s overall budget.
   When the exhibit is over, the nutshells will return to Baltimore to be used for the annual Frances Glessner Lee Seminar in Homicide Investigation next spring, Goldfarb said.
The dioramas offer valuable training lessons even with today’s technology, he said. “There is no other way to learn to see; it’s about training to observe,” Goldfarb said. “These three-dimensional representations do something that can’t be done by any other medium. … They are like a real crime scene, as detailed and overwhelming.”
   Lee, who built the miniature models at her New Hampshire estate, based the scenes on real crimes in New England using witness statements, police reports and her own embellishments. The goal was to train homicide investigators to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.”
   There were 20 nutshells originally, some single rooms, some entire houses. The bulk, 18, have been at the medical examiner’s office. One was ruined years ago in transit. The last one was discovered in the attic of Lee’s estate and has been on long-term loan to the Bethlehem, N.H., Heritage Society.
Lee spent $6,000 to $8,000 to build each one, roughly the cost to construct an actual house at the time. She used real tobacco to roll miniature cigarettes, knitted tiny stockings for her porcelain dolls and hand-painted a design on the floor of a bedroom scene to hide a clue.
   In “Barn,” a porcelain doll is displayed with its feet crashed through a wooden crate and hanging from a rope — the barn hoist — with a noose around its neck. The elaborate scene also shows the doll, a man, dressed in a blue shirt, trousers and suspenders. There’s a wooden saw horse and hay stuffed into a loft behind him. The scene is viewed through a pair of open wooden barn doors.
   The diorama depicts a fictitious farmer, “Eben Wallace,” found dead on July 15, 1939. His wife, “Imelda Wallace,” told police in an eight-sentence statement that her husband was hard to get along with and would sometimes go to the barn to threaten suicide. He would stand on a bucket with a noose around his neck until she would persuade him to get down. On the day of his death, she had been using the bucket at the pump. Her husband had stood instead on the wooden crate.
Was it murder or suicide?
   During a recent visit to the medical examiner’s office, O’Connor, the Smithsonian conservator, had removed the back of the barn for reconditioning. To figure out what materials the doll is made from and whether it has lead shot in its legs to give it weight, she plans to run the tiny body through an X-ray.
   Loose pieces from a wood pile were lined up next to a miniature ax — complete with a rusted blade — and a water pump, all for O’Connor and partner Haddon Dine to work on. Visible on the back of the barn is a hand-colored photograph of New Hampshire’s White Mountains that Lee placed behind a faux window to create a scenic backdrop.
   A major part of the conservation project is new light installation. A Smithsonian lighting expert produced circuit boards to develop tiny, low-heat LED electronics and glass bulbs; the old bulbs give off heat, accelerating the destabilization of the models.
   To restore the pieces as Lee intended them, O’Connor depends on her carefully trained eye. She looks for clues, just like a crime scene investigator: glue residue that reveals the original placement of a can of spaghetti or an ultraviolet light that exposes faded pencil markings.
  “I didn’t know the parallels between the field of forensics science and the field of art conservation,” O’Connor said. “The way we approach conservation treatments is quite similar to how detectives would approach crime scenes. We start with documentation and understanding exactly how things are.
“Before we touch anything, we want to know where everything is.”
ywenger@baltsun.com
twitter.com/yvonnewenger

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rant: When People Who Try to Help, Don't!

Over the weekend, we went to explore a haunted place in Baltimore and on the way back we had to
drive through the city to return home.We ran into an example of people trying to be helpful that were not!  Of course, this happens to everyone. I (Rob) am guilty of trying to help people and making a mess. But this incident we encountered caused a big traffic jam.
    On one of the main streets in the north to south direction in Baltimore there were two Baltimore City workers wearing yellow vests who stopped traffic for about 20 minutes at a traffic light.
   Ahead of us, on the first street to the right an Ambulance had pulled in. That street was blocked by construction, so the ambulance would have to back out to get out.
    We sat in the truck patiently like everyone else. Some people went over and asked what was happening, so I got out and walked over to a city worker. I asked why they were only letting traffic go on the street perpendicular. That traffic could only turn left heading southbound and go on our street.
   The worker, yelled profanities at me. I told him I was just asking a question.  It took another guy to get out of his car and yell at the city employee for him to get out of the intersection and let cars on our street go.
  Once the ambulance was ready to back out, all traffic stopped in both directions.
   BOTTOM LINE: The city worker was NOT a police officer and he backed up traffic for over a mile in the city!   

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dog Teethbrushing Time -Why It's Important!

 Every day I (Rob) brush our dogs' teeth. When you think about not brushing your
Franklin, Tyler and Dolly

own teeth, it's pretty nasty. 


WHY IT'S IMPORTANT:  Well, bacteria builds up in their mouths, too, as does tartar and plaque. And how you would you like having to go to a hospital to get put under once in a while to get your teeth scraped? Not a good feeling. So, why make them go through it?    So, I brush their teeth daily - and each of them have their own toothbrush. 

BEST TOOTHPASTE FOR DOGS ? I also found that Arm and Hammer dog toothpaste seems to be the most effective. 
   
OUR KIDS' REACTIONS: 
   Dolly (the Weimaraner) is extremely patient and lets me get all of her teeth, including the back molars. 

Toothbrushes: Dolly, Franklin, Tyler and Max's
   Tyler (black and tan Dachshund) is also extremely patient and lets me brush all his teeth. In fact, he thinks the toothpaste is a treat so he welcomes it!
   Franklin, our elder (11 yr old, red) Dachshund hates it. He fights me, pulls away, even snarls when I try to brush his teeth, and his teeth are the worst. 

BEST DENTAL TREATS - We have found that the Dingo Dental treats are the best for their teeth, too. 
Since Dolly was a puppy, I've been giving them to her. She's had one dental cleaning in 10 years (because I wasn't brushing her teeth early on) and her teeth look good. Arm and Hammer also makes a dental foam that will work on plaque and improve breath. 

So, take care of your dog's teeth as you take care of your own!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Part 3 of Goofy Signs

This is Part 3 of Goofy Signs. We've seen some mis-spelled signs and dumb signs wherever we're traveled, and this blog will share a couple of goofy signs found by others. Hope the give you a good laugh. Either that, or you'll just shake your head in disbelief!
 
1) It must have been somewhat difficult to put this sign up... unless it was done by a diver!







2) A good thing to know when you're buying a house... that it doesn't come with an invisible roomate (it's not haunted).







3) We can only think that the tests in this school are a pain in the ass. :) It's funny how some things just don't translate well. 







4) Apparently Josh is a good guy to know when it comes to preventing forest fires!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Part 2 of Goofy Signs

This is Part 2 of Goofy Signs. We've seen some mis-spelled signs and dumb signs wherever we're traveled, and this blog will share a couple of goofy signs found by others. Hope the give you a good laugh. Either that, or you'll just shake your head in disbelief!

1) Apparently someone was drinking and making signs that tell others not to drive... since they can't spell "don't." 



2) This salon must be strictly for some very hairy guys. It's just a place where you don't even want to think about what's on their list of services.

3) There's just something foreboding about a health center named "Death Valley." Not very reassuring. 












Friday, September 15, 2017

Rob's Mom gives Him 2 Signs from the Afterlife

Tropical Storm Norma Formed today in the Eastern Pacific
 For those of you who don't know I'm (Rob) a meteorologist and I work on hurricanes/tropical cyclones on my day job. 
  Yesterday, I got a nice big "Hello" from my mother, Norma (who passed in Dec. 2013). Tropical Storm Norma just formed quickly today off the coast of western Mexico, and she's going to have a VERY strong personality (will become a hurricane), like my mom. You never know when you'll get a sign!  
     AND I got a second sign JUST as I was sitting down to write about it. I was listening to Pandora radio, and one of her all time favorite songs just started playing: "It Might Be You" by Stephen Bishop (from the Movie "Tootsie", thus the video below) 
   It brought a happy tear to my eyes, hearing from Mom.
  Spirits are all around us. You just need to look for the signs.

Video: https://youtu.be/Y9AVoIROBt0

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Part 1 of Goofy Signs

This is Part 1 of Goofy Signs. We've seen some mis-spelled signs and dumb signs wherever we're traveled, and this blog will share a couple of goofy signs found by others.
Hope the give you a good laugh. Either that, or you'll just shake your head in disbelief! 

1) Anyone know what "LELT" is? Or maybe it's directions for someone named Lelt to turn there. 
2) We guess that if you aren't a customer, a magician will come outside and turn you into a toad.



3) Apparently, this is only an evacuation route if you can fly or swim. 


 













4) In this other parking lot, apparently they're okay with parking your car, illegally, because it's "Fine."   


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Enjoyable Elizabethan Mystery: Murder at Fontainebleau by Amanda Carmack

     I recently enjoyed the 5th in Amanda Carmack's Elizabethan Mystery series called "Murder at Fontainebleau." The mystery takes place during the reign of England's Queen Elizabeth I and features lead character named Kate who is the queen's musician, confidante and has solved several murders. Kate has a couple of potential love interests, and in this 5th book in the series, the complications continue to grow.  
   The author is so descriptive of places and people in the book, that you have to read it closely to keep track of all the characters. The author immerses you into the year 1561 and in this story, the author takes you to France where you meet Mary Queen of Scots (before she tried to steal the English throne from Queen Elizabeth) and her mother-in-law, Queen Catherine.  This takes place after Mary's French husband died.  
   Although I enjoyed the book, it took about 2/3rds of the way to get to the murder, that had to be solved quickly. I usually like books that open with the mystery in the beginning and either works backward or forward from there. It just seemed that it took a long time to get to the mystery, but once it was there, I was hooked. I give it 4 out of 5 stars! - Rob

ABOUT THE BOOK: In the latest Elizabethan mystery by the author of Murder at Whitehall, amateur sleuth Kate Haywood investigates deadly machinations unfolding behind the scenes in the magnificent French court.
1561. Queen Elizabeth's throne is threatened as Mary Queen of Scots--pushed in every direction by opposing and powerful forces--declares herself the rightful Queen of England. To discover her rival's next unpredictable move, Elizabeth dispatches a party of trustworthy intimates to Mary's court at Fontainebleau. Chief among them is Kate Haywood, who finds that the glittering balls and genial banquets conceal a web of poisonous ambition that soon turns deadly.
When a beautiful and disruptively flirtatious member of the visiting party is murdered, Kate suspects that the man who stands accused has been set up to discredit Elizabeth. She vows to find the real killer, but the French court is a labyrinth unlike any she has ever navigated before--and at every turn there are more traps set to spring.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Top 5 Recent State Pet Protections (and 1 way to help)



Best Friends Shelter in Utah provides homes to countless animals, nurses them to health and adopts
them out. They take in shelter dogs and cats when no one else will. We support them and recommend supporting them, too!  In their latest magazine, they highlighted 5 recent pet protections  are encourging:
1) Delaware became the 21st state in the nation to ban breed-discriminatory ordinances or policies.
2) New Jersey passed a state-wide no-kill resolution making it, to date, the first state to proclaim the intent to become no-kill by 2025
3) In municipalities around the U.S., more than 25 new ordinances were passed prohibiting retail sales of puppies and kittens from breeding mills.
4) In Missouri, the town of Florissant lifted a long-standing ban on pit bull terriers.
5) West Virginia passed a statewide bill that provides funding to non-profit animal welfare groups for spay/neuter.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
CHECK OUT THE BEST FRIENDS RESCUE (They saved a LOT of dogs and cats during Hurricane Katrina in 2005): 
Every day in this country, more than 9,000 dogs and cats — about six per minute — are killed in animal shelters, simply because they don't have safe places to call home. Each one of these pets is an individual. Each one is a valued life worth saving. That number should be zero — and it can be. Your contribution will go straight to work helping tens of thousands of animals at the Best Friends Sanctuary and all across the U.S. Thank you for supporting homeless cats and dogs.
CLICK TO SUPPORT THEIR EFFORTS: https://support.bestfriends.org
What can your monthly gift do?
$10: Gives two newly arrived animals a soft bed, blankets and a dinner with special treats.
$18: Provides an admission exam for 12 animals at the Best Friends Animal Clinic.
$25: Removes five dogs or cats from high-risk shelters and places them in the safety of a Best Friends adoption center.
$50: Gives one rescued dog plenty of food and care.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Did you Know? There's an Apartment in the Eiffel Tower?

Tom found out that there's an apartment in the Eiffel Tower!

Did you know that when Gustave Eiffel was designing the Eiffel Tower, that he included a private apartment for himself at the top? According to Architectural Digest in 2016, now a second one will be available on the first floor for visitors to rent! 
In his book *La Tour Eiffel de Trois Cent Métres (The Eiffel Tower of 300 Meters),*author Henri Girard explains that Parisians would offer up “a small fortune” to rent his private space for a single night, but Eiffel consistently refused. However, he would occasionally entertain guests of the utmost prestige (Thomas Edison is one notable example).


Mark Twain was a visitor:





SOURCE: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/eiffel-tower-paris-secret-apartment

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Another Awesome Murder She Wrote Mystery: Killer in the Kitchen

"Killer in the Kitchen" by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain is  another great mystery in the series.
This "team" of writers (actually Donald Bain) is amazing and doesn't disappoint with this next in the Murder She Wrote mystery series.  There are great characters that you really get to know, and with multiple potential killers, you'll be guessing until the end. Highly Recommended (as are ALL in this series).

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Jessica Fletcher is a bestselling mystery writer who has a knack for stumbling upon real-life mysteries in her various travels. Donald Bain, her longtime collaborator, is the writer of more than one hundred books, many of them bestsellers.
ABOUT THE BOOK: 
A BEEF WITH LEBOEUF
Jessica loves the Fin & Claw restaurant, owned by young Cabot Cove couple Brad and Marcie. The eatery is the couple’s dream come true, but it’s quickly turning into a nightmare.
  Famed chef Gérard Leboeuf has decided to open his brand of bistro right next to theirs. Given the competition, the charming chef’s manner soon turns sour. Tensions rise hot and fast until they boil over, leading to a nasty confrontation between Leboeuf and Brad.
   So when one chef is found with a knife planted in his chest, the other becomes the prime suspect. But there’s a long list of those who had a motive to kill in this kitchen war, and it’s up to Jessica to uncover who really added murder to the menu.

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

Great Books by our friends

Great Books by our friends
Check out these great books (yeah, Rob's are in there, too)

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next

Podcast of Rob's 50 min. interview on Paranormal Filler Radio 7/13/14