Sunshine Project – Day 70, Library, Washington, DC

Today was a really special day. My husband and I traveled to Washington, DC, to visit our son and his fiancée. They have recently moved to the city and things have been hectic in getting settled. Now we had time for some catching up.

So we set off good and early, arriving before lunchtime. After some time spent talking and admiring how they’ve gotten their apartment done up so nicely, we went out for lunch and to walk around their neighborhood. There are all sorts of little shops and restaurants up and down the street – what a great spot for just strolling.

We decided to place the sunshine in the local branch of the library. I enjoy stopping at the local library wherever I go. There is a sense of the familiar mixed with details particular to each city. This branch is in an older building and was warm and cozy. It was also well-used – there were people everywhere reading, using the computers, and studying. I put the sunshine on a shelf in the fiction section.

Here are a couple of things that caught my eye – the fire alarm and the pamphlets. I always like to see the selection of flyers and notices at any library I go into, because they tell interesting things about the local community. And the fire alarm, well, it’s just eye-catching, that’s all.

Though they were not located in Washington, DC, I also had to make note of the two rest stops along the highway – we visited one each way. They replaced worn-out and overcrowded locations with these buildings which I think are beautiful – and functional.

We left in mid-afternoon. What a wonderful day we had.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 28, 2015.

Sunshine, February 28, 2015.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Sunshine Project, look here or search under the category “Sunshine Project”.

Sunshine Project – Day 69, Parking Garage, Fort Washington, PA

Since today is Friday, the traditional best day of the work week, I thought I would set the sunshine in an office environment. Add a little sunshine to the workplace, literally and figuratively, maybe? Anyway, the location that came to mind was the parking garage associated with a collection of office buildings not too far from me.

Office park view from the upper level of the garage.

Office park view from the upper level of the garage.

These buildings are located in an area undergoing some change – it’s been an industrial park for decades and then tried to turn more upscale with the construction of office buildings. This garage, a vast open expanse of concrete on two levels, was built to accommodate the hordes of workers who would populate those buildings.

Things have not worked out that way, though. The suburban office market is glutted and there are many vacancies. The buildings themselves wouldn’t betray this state of affairs from the outside (unless you see the “For Lease” signs) but the parking lot tells the story. At the time of the morning I stopped by, I would have thought there would be a lot of traffic coming in and plenty of parked cars. Not the case. The roads were open and I could have had my choice of hundreds of spaces to park in.

I set the sunshine on the base of a light post. It’s nearest the entrance to the lot and to the adjacent building, so it can spread its influence all the better, I hope. I went away from this location feeling as if I had discovered a secret someone had been trying to hide behind a good front. It was a little disconcerting and I hadn’t expected it.

It’s also interesting to me that at this same time of the morning the parking lots at the train stations for commuting to the city are full. Not long ago it was thought that suburban offices such as these were the wave of the future, but now people seem to want to work in the city. I’ll make no predictions, I’m just observing the landscape!

I did think the nice open space would be great for skateboarding or learning to ride a bike or to drive a car. There were signs forbidding the first idea but the other two – why not?

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 27, 2015.

Sunshine, February 27, 2015.

If you want to know more about the Sunshine Project, it is easy – look here, or search under the category “Sunshine Project”.

Sunshine Project – Day 68, Train Station, Penllyn, PA

Today my idea for the sunshine location just dropped out of the sky, as far as I know. I chose the commuter rail station at Penllyn for no reason other than I just happened to think of it and I knew I would be passing near it.

I’m familiar with this station, though I’ve used it only once or twice. My in-laws lived within sight of it for many years, and I’ve always liked the way it’s just tucked back off the road. It’s not a busy place and I went there in mid-morning, so it was very quiet. There is something about a train station in off hours – almost as if the whole place is taking a deep breath in between the morning and evening commuter rush. I can recommend them for being good places to sit down and take a rest yourself.

This train is heading for the city - just about to come into the station, where I saw it pick up two people.

This train is heading for the city – just about to come into the station, where I saw it pick up two people.

Penllyn is typical of dozens of commuter rail stations in the regional system. No matter where you go, you’ll see the same features repeated again and again. It makes travel easy, I think.

I set the sunshine on a bench on the outbound side. I could see the main building across the tracks. In our area, the larger building is always on the inbound side. The outbound gets a much smaller shelter and it’s usually not in use now, if it still exists, because the idea is that people commute in to the city and therefore need to wait or buy tickets, but coming out, they are on their way home.

Anyway, the main station building’s been around a while and I was interested in the fact that it had a second floor – most stations don’t. If you see one that does, it usually means someone lived in it, probably the stationmaster, back when this area was more isolated. I can imagine how things looked 75 or 100 years ago – even though this is just up the line from the nearest town, Ambler, things would have been very rural.

Main station building on the inbound side.

Main station building on the inbound side.

It looks to me as if the station is ready for some renovation. The shelter on the outbound side is in bad shape. I did enjoy looking at the patterns the peeling paint made on the roof of the platform covering.

As I walked back to the car (which I had parked in the baseball field parking lot down the street) I noticed this remnant of a stone building up against the tracks. Railroad lines seem to collect this kind of site – something that used to be doing one thing or another and now is in ruins, possibly waiting for a new purpose. I wondered what it had been in the past. And then there’s that trailer…definitely forgotten, it is. I had to laugh. I think it looks embarrassed.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 26, 2015.

Sunshine, February 26, 2015.

You may want to know more about the Sunshine Project – if you do, look here, or search under the category “Sunshine Project”.

Sunshine Project – Day 67, Post Office, Fort Washington, PA

I’ve been working on some collage poetry and I put a couple of the compositions on postcards – really, what I did was cut strips of cardboard from a box, painted them, and then glued on the poetry. Collage poetry is a nice relaxing way to spend an afternoon and that’s what I did yesterday, just so you know!

Anyway, I wanted to send one postcard to my son. I’ve followed the activity of sending mail art to him for some years. I got off track with my illness. Now I’ve started it up again. This is the first one I’ve done with collage poetry in a long time.

The mail, the kind with postal delivery workers, mail trucks, stamps, envelopes, dropping an item into a metal box and knowing the actual item will travel anywhere in the world I want to send it – this kind of mail is special to me, as I have said before. I truly value the effort that is put into someone’s communications with me – from the sender all the way through the process. Younger people are not so attuned to this feeling – email is efficient but it doesn’t have the same emotional effect, and I am sorry for the change. On the other hand, if we didn’t have electronic communications, we might not think of the postal mail as special.

I don’t want to go back to the old ways – I want both! That’s what I am saying.

So I decided to take a sunshine with me to the post office to mail this artwork/poetry/greeting. I chose the Fort Washington location – it’s a new building and a big operations center for the local area. I set the sunshine on the counter containing slips to be filled out for certified mail, etc.

Then I took my item to the post box and dropped it through. It’s off! On its way through many hands and snowy landscapes. Look out. Here it comes!

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine in place, February 25, 2015.

Sunshine in place, February 25, 2015.

If you want more sunshine info, look here! Or search under the “Sunshine Project” category.

If you want more information on my mail art or about my collage poetry, try these places:
Claudia McGill and Her Art World and search under the category Mail Art
Claudia McGill Writes Poetry, Did You Know That? and search under the category Collage Poetry

Other post office-related Sunshine Project posts:

Day 2

Day 35

Day 38

Sunshine Project – Day 66, Bus Stop, Ambler, PA

Today’s sunshine location was inspired by a sight I see often and by a childhood memory.

When I was very young, I learned a song called “The Lonely Little Petunia”, which featured a flower growing in an onion patch. Not surprisingly, all she did was cry. I was very concerned about this poor creature and I asked my father to help me find her so I could rescue her. I understood from his evasions that we were not going to do any looking; the flower wasn’t real, he finally said. I refused to accept this worldview, though I knew it was useless to keep asking. I think this incident is the first instance of my lifelong insistence that everything has a spirit. Of some sort. And everything knows when it’s happy and when it’s not. And songs about sad flowers are just as likely to be true as not.

If you are shaking your head at these thoughts, well, think of the time your car broke down and how sheepish it looked being towed away. Or what about that dilapidated building now spruced up – holding its head a lot higher now, you can see it, can’t you?

So this bus stop has been on my mind.

Bus stop McKean Road 2-24-15

I see it every day as I drive into the gym parking lot. I don’t think anyone has ever caught a bus from this location. I’ve never even seen a bus on this road. We’re in the deep suburbs here and cars are the transportation. The bus is for the city and we are not in the city. Enough said.

Yet the bus stop stands here, patiently waiting for a chance to do its job. It’s well made and weather-tight. There is a nice bench to sit on. I think the bus stop is more likely to find itself sheltering joggers from a sudden downpour than bus riders.

So I set the sunshine on the bench. Now the bus stop has some company, and someone is waiting for the bus. The bus stop is in business and I feel happier already.

Sunshine in place.

Sunshine in place.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 24, 2015.

Sunshine, February 24, 2015.

If you want to know more about the Sunshine Project, there a place to find out: here! Or you can search under the category “Sunshine Project”.

Sunshine Project – Day 65, Church, Hatboro, PA

My visit to the Borough Hall in this town brought to mind another location for a sunshine. Today I went to the Church of the Advent to set the sunshine in their peace garden.

I am familiar with this church. It’s one of the few in our area that has an open door all day long – the chapel is open from seven in the morning to seven at night and a sign on the lawn is what originally caught my attention last year when I first visited. I am not a churchgoer now, but I have always felt that churches are places for rest and contemplation, and I appreciated the generosity of this one’s congregation in sharing their space to anyone who seeks it out.

sign Church of the Advent

First I set the sunshine in the peace garden. Right now it’s snow-covered but in better weather it is planted and colorful. I put the sunshine on the little stone wall along with some offerings by other people. I noticed the rhododendron bushes with their curled-up leaves and the bare branches of the trees – these will all be changed very soon when warm weather comes, and for now they are beautiful in their winter forms.

I came to this church quite a few times last year when I was ill, just to sit in the quiet building. I’ve never encountered anyone else there and it always gave me a space to collect my thoughts and rest. The building is small but solidly built of stone, with beautiful colorful windows. On a gusty day like today, the wind’s roar is muted and there is a sense of safety in this place.

I signed my name in the visitors’ book and I looked back to last year’s pages to find it there, just as I wrote it then. Quite a few names have been added in the intervening time. I lit a candle and waited for it to get a good flame going – it joined one other. I revisited the images on the windows and I also looked up at the roof – the solid beams and the open structure somehow seem very reassuring to me. They are beautiful and strong.

I am glad to visit this place a year later and see that it has not changed much but that things have progressed for me.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 23, 2015.

Sunshine, February 23, 2015.

You can find out more about the Sunshine Project here or you can search the category “Sunshine Project”.

Sunshine Project – Day 64, Office Building, Abington, PA

It snowed a few inches last night and then the temperature went up for a one-day reprieve from the bitter cold we’ve been having. It turned sunny and bright and the snow began a speed-melt. One of those winter days when spring peeks in just a bit; it reminded me of gardens and flowers, and I thought of a place I’ve been meaning to set a sunshine. The time just hasn’t seemed right, until today.

I am referring to the medical office building I visited over the past two years for my hand infection. It’s not my favorite place on earth at all, but I have wanted to go back there in good health and let go of the experiences associated with it. I haven’t liked even to drive past it. But the burst of sunshine and warmth today gave me the push to make peace with the memory.

So my husband and I drove to the building. On Sunday, it’s deserted. The garage was dank and melting snow was
dripping everywhere. We went out to the gardens surrounding the building – they run all along the back. In the past I always found them calming and soothing – there were lots of bright flowers and grasses soaking up the sun. Today of course it is all bare, but it still looked peaceful. I set the sunshine on one of the walls near a bench. I remember seeing people sitting out here in the good weather.

After looking around a little, we went back to the garage to leave. I noticed the frost on the window of the elevator vestibule – what delicate patterns here in this miserable setting!

As I took the pictures, an enormous roar kicked up from above – a man was driving a little slow-plow around the upstairs level, which is open to the sky. What a racket. At the same time, we noticed that the automatic door to the vestibule seemed to have gone haywire – it kept opening and shutting, opening and shutting…It may still be doing it for all I know. I found this very amusing to think about.

Anyway, the visit was worth it. I did not have to be at this building – I chose to go there for my own reasons. And I could leave any time I wanted and I didn’t have to come back. A very nice change from the past.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 22, 2015.

Sunshine, February 22, 2015.

Look right here for more about the Sunshine Project or search under “Sunshine Project” in the categories.

Sunshine Project – Day 63, Borough Hall, Hatboro, PA

Today is a milestone date for the project – it is the third 21 out of four. What am I talking about? Well, there are four 21’s contained in the duration of the project. It began on December 21, 2014; it ends on March 21, when we will be in spring. We have passed January 21, and today is February 21.

So there are a couple of special activities for today – a long-standing tradition begun one month ago. I’m following the pattern I set up on January 21. First of all, I needed to buy a lottery ticket with my lucky number for today being 221. The drawing is tonight and we will see if anything comes of it.

Could this be my lucky number?

Could this be my lucky number?

Secondly, I wanted to find a location with a timepiece, to denote the passing of time throughout the months of winter. The idea of a clock tower occurred to me. Now, in the city there seems to be such a tower on every corner – City Hall being the most prominent. But I was looking in the suburbs, and they are not as plentiful. Then I thought about Borough Hall in Hatboro, about 20 minutes from my house.

Borough Hall, Hatboro, PA.

Borough Hall, Hatboro, PA.

Hatboro (named for the reason you would expect, hats were made there in the past) is another place with a lot of associations for me. For one thing, my husband worked there when we were first married. We lived close by and we did a lot of shopping in this town. So the Borough Hall, which is a national historic site, was a familiar location. Its surroundings have changed a lot – a retirement community now surrounds it.

But the building is the same. It was constructed as a school in 1811 with funds donated by the estate of a prominent citizen, Robert Loller. My husband and I drove there on a very cold gray day. We were surprised to see the clock has a face but no hands right now – it’s not working. After I came home I did some research and found out that the clock itself is famous for its maker, Isaac Lukens, who made the clock on Independence Hall as well. This clock is currently under restoration and will be back to work soon. I was amazed to learn the clock is 200 years old.

So the theme of the passing of time turned out to be fulfilled, though not in the way I had thought. This building focused my thoughts on time as it is expressed in centuries, not months or hours. I set the sunshine on the front steps. Now I’ve added my little bit to the history of this place.

Sunshine in place. It's set on the bottom step to the right, outside the railing.

Sunshine in place. It’s set on the bottom step to the right, outside the railing.

We looked around a little bit. I was interested in the storm windows – you don’t see this kind very often anymore. And my husband pointed out that the clock tower itself looks appears to have been altered – it looked as if a Victorian-type section had been stuck on top of the simpler pediment. A little more research at home told me that he was right – it had been. Once again, an everyday sight has come to life for us courtesy of the Sunshine Project!

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 21, 2015.

Sunshine, February 21, 2015.

Do you want to know more about the Sunshine Project? Look here or search under the category “Sunshine Project”.

And you might be interested…
Day 21, Historic Farm Site and Local Park This post mentions another prominent local citizen, the man who carried out Loller’s request for the building of the academy, Nathaniel Boileau. We left a sunshine at the park and historic site named for him.

Sunshine Project – Day 62, Electrical Station, Ambler, PA

Today is even colder than yesterday, just 1 degree when I woke up, and with the same sweeping wind as we’ve had the last couple of days. I had no inspiration for where to place the sunshine today. I didn’t want to spend much time outside, either. So I decided to just let an idea strike me as I went on my way.

I decided to drive home from the gym on local roads instead of the highway – I thought that would give me a good chance to see a place I’d like to stop. And it worked. On my wandering way, I went through Ambler, a town about 15 minutes from home. I drove by the commuter train station and pulled in, thinking of a spot I hadn’t visited in some time.

Believe it or not, my destination was the electrical station handling power for the commuter trains, situated at the end of the parking lot.

I’ve taken pictures of it before, some years ago, I think. I’ve always been attracted to power substations – I think the components look beautiful. This particular one is extra interesting, though, because of the heavy-duty nature of the power processed. I took some time to look around at the various parts of the station. It seems to me almost a sculpture garden (although a very dangerous one).

I set the sunshine at the gate to the enclosure. I don’t know how often anyone visits the facility. So the sunshine could be there for some time. Doesn’t matter. I appreciate the looks and the utility of this location and the sunshine says it for me.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 20, 2-15.

Sunshine, February 20, 2-15.

More about the Sunshine Project here, or you can look it up in the category listing “Sunshine Project”.

A couple of other Ambler posts:

Day 10, Butler Pike, Ambler, PA

Day 53, Neighborhood, Ambler, PA

Sunshine Project – Day 61, Park, Roslyn, PA

Today is very cold, eighteen degrees this morning, and with a brisk wind that is stirring the tree limbs. The snow we had the other day was very light and fluffy because it was so cold, and it’s blowing and drifting all over.

Today is a milestone for me – one year ago today I had my second hand surgery for the antibiotic-resistant infection I had been fighting for the previous year. Things went downhill after that surgery and I had a lot of complications. But one year later, my hand has, against the odds, healed. I can use it and I am in good health overall. So I was thinking about all the things I need my hands for, including my artwork. And that train of thought brought me to the idea of sculpture. I don’t know why, as I am not a sculptor! But I thought it would be nice to take the sunshine to some kind of statue.

What came to mind was this structure in a local park. It’s not exactly sculpture, but it just seemed to be what I was looking for. So I took the sunshine and we went to Roslyn Park, about ten minutes from home.

Roslyn Park sign

The area I was looking for is next to the main road, but I had to park in the adjoining neighborhood and walk through the park. I crossed a little bridge and there I was.

bridge Roslyn Park

The “bird pole” is a little section devoted to plantings and habitat for birds and was set up in 2006. I had remembered the birdhouses attached to the pole as being wooden structures, and I see from the plaque that they were. I also learned the bird at the top is named Rosie!

But the houses attached to the pole now are different. They looked like cake mold pans, painted, and attached to a wood backing. I am thinking that the original houses deteriorated and that maybe kids from the nearby school made these new ones. Doesn’t matter. There were all kinds of birds around, cheerfully chattering, and all of it happening just a few feet from a busy road.

Bird house.

Bird house.

I set the sunshine on one of the big rocks. I took a little time to listen to the birds and enjoy the sunshine. It was quite warm near the big rock – I think it radiated a little of the sun’s heat back out into the day.

Sunshine in place on the big rock to the left.

Sunshine in place on the big rock to the left.

Walking back, I noticed the way the wind had sculpted the snow into patterns and ridges.

In the summer the ballfields will be busy and the stands full of people. Right now, it was a peaceful spot just for me to enjoy.

Happy sunshine.

Sunshine, February 19, 2015.

Sunshine, February 19, 2015.

You can learn more about the Sunshine Project here or you can look up “Sunshine Project” in the category listing.

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