Okay, one more: Fancy new phone

I got an iPhone over the weekend, and I’ve been having great fun messing around with it the last few days.  My iPhone has a camera on it, and it takes great pictures.  I have an app called Hipstamatic that takes old-timey pictures, with nifty lighting effects and such.  Here are a few glimpses of how this camera and its magic software can make my prosaic life look more interesting.

Soccer practice looks beautiful:

Soccer practice

Even my morning commute becomes strangely compelling:


And when I turn the camera toward a subject that is beautiful in the first place, I get magic:

Bedtime reading

I have a bit of travel for work coming up, and I will try to snap some more pictures along the way.

Wayback Machine: July 2010

Gentle readers, your correspondent needs to take a week for a busman’s holiday of sorts.  Work is very busy right now, and people in my house are under the weather.  Blogging will resume next week on Halloween.

Meantime, I took this picture at a Riversharks game last year, and I’m still quite fond of it, even though none of my children are visible in the frame:


I realize every year around October that I actually like gray skies – just not 30 days in a row!

See you next week.

Great night for a campfire

My tribe showed up at the cabin around 6:00 in the evening, and we sat together for a feast – barbecue chicken, baked potatoes, beans, salad, bread.  My mouth is watering just recounting it.  For dessert, of course, we would have marshmallows from the campfire.

Nick worked his long-exposure magic again, and so we have some lovely pictures of the night:




It’s a shame this last one is a little blurry, because you get both the night sky and the trees in their autumn colors, lit up by the campfire:


Happy weekend, campers!  Stay warm out there.

Apple picking at Hopewell

After visiting Hopewell Furnace, Gramps and I agreed that I should go out apple picking.  Hopewell has an apple orchard uphill from the visitor center and the village; a pound of apples (0.5 kg) costs $1, and every person in your group gets one for free.


Apple picking seemed to be pretty popular, and the visitor center had those wonderful extension poles available, meaning you could easily reach 20 feet (6.5 m) into the trees.  As a result, the trees were largely picked bare, especially the better-known species like Red Delicious and Baldwin.  I wandered down to the far end of the orchard, figuring fewer people would have bothered to go all the way out, and was intrigued to find a variety I’d never seen before:


The Internet tells me they’re especially good for pies… and I owe it to you, gentle reader, to test out that advice.

With all that visiting and apple picking, we were hungry, so we headed back to the cabin for yet another leisurely meal.  (I should mention that before setting out on this adventure, we had fortified ourselves with Gramps’ famous Saturday morning pancakes.  Yum.)

Tomorrow: Around the fire.

Hopewell Furnace

Saturday morning, Gramps and I decided to do a little sightseeing.  Right next to French Creek State Park, the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site preserves an ironmaking blast furnace from the days of the Revolutionary War.  (Or, if you’re British, the American Rebellion.)  The furnace itself operated from 1771 to 1883; the National Historic Site was established during the 1930s when the family that owned the land either sold or donated the property to the Federal government.  A Civilian Conservation Corps detachment came in and stabilized most of the major buildings, which form the Historic Site today.

(Side note – I think this makes at least seven National Park Service facilities I’ve visited in the last year.  Not bad, considering I’m not even retired yet….)

We started out with the dime tour of the visitor center:


Then it was on to the Village.  We got VIP service – the rangers drove us down the hill in a golf cart.  The other visitors all had to walk.  People treat Gramps with respect.


The autumn weather was glorious – about 65F/18C and white puffy clouds above.  It was a lovely day for a tour.




We took a stroll around the buildings, stopping to chat a while at the general store.  The shopkeeper asked after my Carnegie Mellon sweatshirt, and we fell into conversation about Pittsburgh and eastern Ohio.  Later, we came back to the shop for our VIP ride back up the hill, and the shopkeeper played some music for us.  She had a stringed instrument from the era, a bowed psaltery.  The music was mesmerizing.  Sadly, I didn’t have the presence of mind to take pictures or video while she played.  Once again, happily, the Internet delivers:

Tomorrow: Apple picking.

Cabin camping weekend

I’ve had the idea for a couple years now to take the Grandfolks out to a cabin for a weekend of camping.  This year, I finally got around to booking the place and making it happen.  We did so much camping this year, I thought one more capstone weekend would be nice.

And it was!

Here’s a look at our cabin, which was nestled in the woods on the end of a row of cabins at French Creek State Park, about an hour west of our usual stomping grounds.


I think it’s well established here that my family’s schedule is crazy.  So the way things worked out, I took a day off on Friday, and headed up to the cabin with the Grandfolks on Friday afternoon.  My dear, sweet, long-suffering taxi driver wife got to come up with the kids Saturday evening, and then take off early Sunday morning for a soccer game and Nutcracker rehearsals.

As for the cabin, it was Spartan – no TV, no radio, no phone – but had all the essentials.



Since it was just the three of us Friday evening, we got to enjoy the rarest of treats – a two-hour dinner, preceded by cocktail hour.  For once in my life, I had nowhere else to go, no kid to pick up.  (Thanks again to Chelsea for keeping up with everything on the home front so I had this opportunity!)


I cooked dinner, and the Grandfolks were kind enough to do the dishes.


We sat together in the living room after dinner, and I started falling asleep mid-conversation.  So at the ripe hour of 9:00 at night, I headed for bed, and proceeded to sleep about 10 hours.  Glorious!

Tomorrow: Hopewell Furnace.

Go to the woods

Hello, campers!

It’s a busy week around here, but we had a great weekend – one for the ages.  I’ll be posting more pictures in the days ahead.  For now, here’s a look at Gramps watching over a campfire.  A genuine, out in the woods, smoke-and-marshmallows campfire.


Stay tuned this week!

First high school formal

Time flies.  Here at the Sperger Family Blog, we’re all too acquainted with the sensation of time roaring past us.  While Maria was having her birthday party, Nick was embarked on his own milestone event – his first high school formal dance, with a date and everything.  Here he is with an old friend, nervously heading out the door:


Don’t they look fabulous?  I just don’t understand how I got old enough to have a kid in high school.  As Nick was knocking on the door of his date’s house to pick her up, that was the thought rattling around in my mind.

Enjoy your weekend!

Maria’s birthday party

Maria had a dance party at the house two weekends ago.  We had a nice turnout – about 35 kids – and the joint was jumping.  We cleared out the living room to make a big dance floor:


We kept things lively with a couple of contests.  First, bubble gum bubble blowing:


And later, marshmallow eating:


Chelsea set up a ‘photo booth’ with props, where the kids could take silly pictures of themselves:



Finally, no birthday would be complete without a fabulous cake:


Special thanks to lil’ sis Kate for helping out with the party:


It was a great time!