Halloween 2012

Happy PumpkinAs we ride out Hurricane Sandy, and while the power is still on, I thought I would use my time constructively to post some Halloween photos, even if it is still 2 days away. Though we went pumpkin picking weeks ago (at None Such Farm) and we’ve had pumpkins in our garden since July, ‘we’ finally got around to carving them this weekend.  One of our small pumpkins from the garden, Papa carved to decorate Mama’s humus tray that we brought to our friends’, the Rennenbergs, party on Saturday.  He carved two others, one happy and one ‘spooky’ and their guts, Mama made into soup.  On Saturday evening, we put our costumes on for the party, and snapped a few quick pics. Mama, and Gabriella, out-did themselves in creating Gabriella’s “Belle” costume, and did a great job pulling Elisa’s costume together as well.  Papa, on the other hand, whipped his together that afternoon, but gets credit for wearing red long johns to the party. Mama glued on her face and regrets being so liberal with the adhesive, which took longer to remove than put on.  There are more pumpkins to carve, but we’ll do that when the power goes out and Armageddon is in full swing … we’ll post those pictures when we’re back on the ‘grid.’

Stary PumpkinSpooky Pumpkin Humus Puke Pumpkin Gabriella Bella Elisa ... cute as a Bee! Angry Old Bird Get this woman some COFFEE!

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Camping in Ithaca, NY

Our Camp SiteSo we’ve been to many camp sites within Pennsylvania (our favorite being Ricketts Glen) and several times to the Catskills, but this year we were looking to try something new.  This August, we chose to explore Ithaca, NY, and decided to try Robert H. Treman State Park (highest rated in the area). On arriving, we were very disappointed with the campgrounds itself … the sites were very small, with no privacy or separation from our neighbors, but luckily, we didn’t have any problems getting along with them.  What we lacked by way of accommodations, was certainly made up for with several opportunities for hiking through gorges, and biking & swimming along/in Cayuga Lake.Très Bon Fire

We had some rain, but we’ve seen much worse, and as seasoned campers, were ready! Papa impressed the neighbors by not giving up the chance to cook our dinner over the fire with an umbrella over himself, keeping the fire dry, and himself very smokey :-)  Fortunately, our days were dry, and we had the opportunity to explore several gorges & waterfalls.  One day was spent hiking Trehman (our favorite) but we also explored Buttermilk & Taughannock Falls.  Biking along the Cayuga before Buttermilk, and swimming in the Cayuga after Taughannock.

Of course, Papa took lots of pictures, and the rest of the story here will be told by them. At the end of the post, we’ll link to even more photos of the beautiful scenery (if you get tired of beautiful pictures, feel free to stop there) :-).  Enjoy!

Hiker GirlsMama & Papa on the trailGetting down into the creekPapa & the girls dwarfted by nature.Scenic overlook at TaughannockResting at the scenic overlook at TaughannockGabriella overlooking TaughannockElisa overlooking TaughannockNot only GORGEous, but BUTE-e-fulMama on the edgeElisa swimming under Trehman's FallsMama & Gabriella swimming under Trehman's FallsPapa takes a Buttermilk showerCamp ScrabbleWhat are they staring at?Elisa's Impression of a TreeGabriella's Impression of a TreeElisa jumping into the CayugaGabriella jumping into the CayugaSwimming the CayugaPlaying in the CayugaConversation by the CayugaGabriella on an old coal mining train engine

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Anniversary Hike on the A.T.

AT the Beginning on the A.T.While the girls are still in Belgium, and despite a backlog of work & house projects, we decided to take a 3-day hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail.  It was less than a 20 mile (in & back) trip, but we needed our “zero day” in between to recover from the hard hike in.  We started at the Dunfield parking lot off of Route 80, in the Delaware Water Gap and hiked to Mohican Outdoor Center. Dunfield creekWe had done the Dunfield trail before, but not with 25-30 lb. packs on, and though it was beautiful, the rough terrain, steep uphill climb, and hot weather took their toll.  Less than 2 liters of water each was not enough for the 7 hour hike :-(   By the time we made it to Sunfish Pond (about half way) we were pretty sore, and though the second half of the hike was relatively easier, it felt much worse when thirsty and tired.  Despite hearing thunder for quite some time, we were lucky to have less than 30 minutes of walking in light rain before hitting Mohican where our first order of business was to gulp down some water from the outdoor hose.

Our 4-star abodeAt the office we checked in, and while Joke slept in the great room, I went to check out our site.  Unfortunately, I found a tent set up on it, and it wasn’t ours :-/  While we waited out the rain, the manager cleared up the matter, and soon we had our tent up.  Hungry and tired, we fired up the new camp stove, and boiled water for our mouth-watering powdered meal 🙂 which we enjoyed under our umbrellas as the rain came and went.  Exhausted, we retired to our 4-start tent by 9:00pm.

Catfish PondThe next day we woke early to instant coffee and dry bagels (quite the luxury to thru-hikers) and then set off to explore the Rattlesnake Swamp trail to a viewpoint on the A.T., where we had our provolone, soppressata and bagel sandwiches.  After lunch we headed to Catfish Pond for a swim and a nap, but were awaken by a light rain.  As we waited out the rain, we spent some time in the center’s great room, and splurged on a second lunch, a turkey sandwich (with PICKLES!) which we split.  We read a bit and had friendly conversations with some “thru-hikers,” and around 6pm left for another delicious powdered meal back our site. The office & great room, where we planned to spend the evening with fellow campers, lost power, so were retired to our tent as night fell.

Vista overlooking Sunfish PondOn Monday we slept in til 7:00am, and had more instant coffee & bagels to fuel us for our hike back to the car.  Unlike car camping, we quickly broke camp, had our backpacks packed and were on the trail around 9am. To avoid getting dehydrated again, we drank almost a liter of water before hitting the trail, not knowing if it would be as rough on the return as it was coming in. Fortunately it was a little cooler, and the first half of the hike was nothing like the Dunsfield trail we had on the first day, so we made it to the 1/2 way point much quicker than expected.  We even took a side trip around Sunfish Pond where we saw snakes, birds and shared a wonderful vista with a blue salamander. Earlier in the trip we caught a glance of a small black bear running off the trail, and a young deer peering at us, just off the trail, as well as a few (rank) thru-hikers on their way to Maine.  At noon, we had lunch once again at the pond, but with much more energy than the first day, and once Joke put some duct tape on her blisters, we were off again for our last section of the A.T. back to the car.

Of course, I’ll wrap this post up with a bunch more photos … enjoy 🙂

Up Rootedinteresting fungiJoke at Sunfish PondInuksuk GatheringIn front of the camera for a changeBoat House from our site on the pondOur view from our siteSweet Smell of the Sweet PepperbushTop of Rattlesnake Trail - A.T. TrailCatfish PondChimney ParkDirty LaundrySpider WebOur humble stovePacks ready to go

OVER Half Way ThereThe ROCKY A.T.Hiking HomeWorthington State Forrest VistaYou Looking at Me?Iridescent SalamanderBlack Rat Snake (about 5' long)COPPERHEAD?!!!TOADY

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First Half of 2012 Mash-Up

Well it’s been a long time since we’ve posted to the “Macera’s page,” but that doesn’t mean nothing has been happening in the past six months. Quite the opposite … it’s been an event-filled first half of 2012 with no time left to post. Since we’re seeing off the girls today for a 3 week trip to Belgium, I thought it would be a good time to jam the previous six months of events into one post. It might be too much to take in all at once so take your time, and enjoy. We’ll go chronologically, with some description, but mostly pictures … what can I say 🙂


Chinese New Year @ University Museum

In February we celebrated the Chinese New Year at Penn’s Museum. We didn’t have much time to spend, but we enjoyed being shown the erhu which Elisa had a chance to play, and had fun watching the Dragon Dance out the auditorium and into the courtyard.

Elisa playing the Erhu @ Chinese New Year 2012Dragon Dance Chinese New Year 2012Chinese New Year 2012Chinese New Year 2012

Gabriella Singing at Germantown UUGabriella Sings at Germantown UU

On February 19th, Gabriella performed “Beautiful” again at the Germantown UU  as part of a music exchange between our respective congregations.
Elisa as Michelle Obama

At the end of the month, Elisa was Michelle Obama in her school’s “Wax Museum.”

Gabriella & Sylvia in Recycle Runway 3.10.12Gabriella & Sylvia in Print


Recycle Runway

Gabriella and her friends, including Sylvia, made a dress for a Recycle Runway competition (3/10/12). They didn’t place, but we and the local newspaper thought they were winners.


Elisa in the Pennsbury Honors BandElisa Honors Band with William S. Stowman from Messiah CollegeHonors Band & “Curtains”

In March, Elisa was chosen to participate in the Pennsbury Honors Band (3/10/12). If you didn’t know already, Elisa is quite the prodigy at oboe and the guest conductor, William S. Stowman from Messiah College could tell right away. He singled her out as an oboist who’s going places, and guaranteed her a scholarship when she was ready for college.

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On the same day, the family attended the Charles Boehm production of the musical, “Curtains”. Gabriella was part of the supporting cast and had a great time with many of her friends who were also involved, including Sylvia, who had the female lead.

Gabriella in Charles Boehm production "Curtains"Gabriella in Charles Boehm production "Curtains"

Sylvia in Charles Boehm production "Curtains"Gabriella & Daniel in Charles Boehm production "Curtains"

Elisa & Kuzco
Elisa w/Kuzco

OK – just a cute picture of Elisa & Kuzco


Elisa cutting the lawnElisa Cutting the Lawn

Papa had tendinitis in his shoulder this spring, just in time for peak lawn cutting season, so Elisa thought it would be a good time to pitch in. She did a portion of the back yard, but decided she wasn’t quite ready to take the job away from the old man.



Tyler State Park

It was a beautiful spring day, and the family decided to spend an afternoon in Tyler State Park (4/14/12). Even Papa got into one of the pics.

Girls at Tyler State Park

Papa & the Girls at Tyler State ParkPapa & the Girls (tickling) at Tyler State ParkGabriella's Special Rock / Tyler State Park

In Bloom

Just thought I’d include a photo of our beautiful Peony that continues to dazzle us each spring (4/18).  As well as include a shot of our wisteria in full bloom.  In case you don’t remember where that started, I’ll include a shot from 6 years ago to illustrate how much it has grown.

PEONYWisteria 2012Wisteria 2006


Gabriella Honor Society

Gabriella & Friends inducted into the Honor SocietyGabriella with her Honor Society certificateGabriella receiving her Honor Society certificate

Gabriella made it into the Honor Society this year (4/26), as if we ever doubted.


Here’s a song to help you remember our 50 states.

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Elisa once again joined Pennsbury Softball this spring in the “10U” league. She had a great coach (Coach Decker) and did great at bat & on the field – she even pulled off a double play. She struggled a little at pitching, but fulfilled a much needed role on the team.

Elisa pitching softball 2012Elisa fielding softball 2012Elisa with coach Dan DeckerElisa & the Red Sox 2012


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Coming of Age

May 6th was Gabriella’s “Coming of Age” ceremony for our church (UUFLB). She wrote an amazing “statement of faith” as well as a song which she performed for the packed audience. As part of her CoA, she also created a beautiful mask.

Gabriella Coming of Age CeremonyGabriella & Sylvia singing at their Coming of Age CeremonyGabriella Singing at her Coming of Age CeremonyGabriella's Party after her Coming of Age Ceremony

Gabriella's Coming of Age Cake


Once again, the Memorial Day weekend meant the annual Dance Arts of Yardley’s recital, but this year it was only Gabriella performing (Elisa saved her time for riding & softball).

Gabriella's Dance Recital 2012 Gabriella's Dance Recital 2012Gabriella's Dance Portrait 2012

Gabriella's Dance Portrait 2012

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Elisa receiving the President's Award for Educational ExcellenceElisa on the Red CarpetEnd of the Edgewood Era

June brought the end of the school year which was highlighted by Elisa receiving the President’s Award for Educational Excellence (6/7/12) and her MG Red Carpet event (6/8/12), where the group created a movie of their version of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”


Birthday Parties

Mama organized the girls’ birthday parties to occur within days of the end of school, but they ran into some problems. For Gabriella’s Tubing Party (6/12) it rained, though the kids made the most of it at Tyler Park, and was re-scheduled, with much success, two weeks later (6/27). Elisa’s “Titanic” themed party was crippled due to the lack of being able to find the video anywhere (Amazon Video, Netflix, etc.) but the girls enjoyed the evening despite the setback.


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The birthday girl at her Tubing PartyGabriella's Tubing PartyElisa at Gabriella's Tubing Party




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Ocean City

As soon as the school year ended we headed to OC for some much needed R&R. Papa got an underwater camera (LUMIX DMC-TS4) for his birthday, which we brought to the beach to capture those shots that he preferred not to use his expensive camera for.

Gabriella gets BANGSGabriella in the oceanGabriella & Elisa in the Ocean City OCEAN



More Birthdays

Gabriella's 13th Birthday CakeOn Saturday the 7th, we celebrated Gabriella’s birthday with the family. Gabriella made the cake (using Chai tea as one of the spices) but thought it would be more appropriate if someone else decorated. Carrying on the “tea theme” we designed the decoration that Elisa then ‘piped’ onto the cake … get it? 🙂

Later that week went went down the shore again for a few action filled days which included fishing, beach, crabbing (with Nonno) and more beach. We spent July 4th at the pool with the Rennenbergs where Papa perfected is slide technique. It’s the last we’ll see of OC for a while until the girls return from their 3 week trip (traveling alone) to Belgium.

SeascapeGabriella & Papa on the beachElisa eating on the beachMama basking in the sunElisa's one-hand handstand in the poolIzzy, Gabriella & Elisa down under

Nonno's Pistachio birthday cake by GabriellaLast weekend, we celebrated Nonno’s 83rd birthday since the girls would be away on the 31st.  Gabriella made a pistachio flavored, and decorated, cake for him which everyone enjoyed except the biggest food critic herself, Gabriella.


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Beautiful, “Beautiful”

On Sunday, Gabriella sang a wonderful version of Beautiful [ watch Christina Aguilera version ] to help support our church’s service on Transgender issues.  This is a wonderful song, with a powerful message, that stirs emotions in everyone.  Of course, we’re proud of our daughter’s performance, but even more proud, that our daughters get the message and understand its importance!

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Second, First Night & First Swim

For the second time in as many years, we celebrated First Night in Ocean City, NJ for New Year’s Eve.  Starting with our, now traditional, sushi dinner prepared by the GIRLS (while Papa was working in the attic, so he says 🙂 ), we filled the time between dinner and the evening’s entertainment, with a hilarious round of “Lie” (and discovered that Mama is the best liar of the family).   The first performance of the evening was the always entertaining, Trout Fishing in America.  We then saw another favorite, Broadway By Request, but were less entertained by the next two acts, an Abbott & Costello impersonation act, and Peter Tork’s (of The Monkees fame) Shoe Suede Blues band.  But that didn’t dampen our evening, nor did the fact that they ran out of spiral fries at Curly’s … we still enjoyed bringing in the New Year with a BANG, watching the fireworks over the boardwalk!

First Sushi prepFirst Sushi prepFirst SushiFirst Sushi w/Oma
Trout Fishing in AmericaFirst Fireworks 2012

First Dip 2012And of course, our other new tradition, was our First Dip in the ocean, on New Years day (second year running).  Once again, the whole family (including Elisa this year), dove into the ocean, with a few thousand other crazy OC’rs for the polar bear swim … and some actually swam, staying in for ten minutes or so (but not us).  Thanks to Alison and Anna for joining us, and taking our group shot once again.

Earlier in the week, we strolled the local state park, Tyler State Park, so I thought I’d throw in a few photos of that excursion as well.  Note, I, Oma and the girls ‘strolled’ … Joke had to run, of course 🙂

Covered bridge Tyler State ParkCovered bridge Tyler ParkMama running in Tyler ParkThe girls on a walk in Tyler ParkOma & the Girls at Tyler ParkWandelen, Tyler Park

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Christmas 2011

Savor the Holidays

They won't last forever!
It came! It came, just the same! All the Maceras in Yardley, the tall and the small, were singing 🙂
Christmas family portrait, 2011Elisa, Oma & GabriellaChristmas Sisters 2011
Girls with Nonno, Nonna & ZiaAfter a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at Nonna’s  (where most of us enjoyed 7 fishes), the family awoke this morning to a tree, still standing, with  lots of presents below it.  Papa had a great time tricking the girls into thinking that they didn’t get the Nook they wanted, by having Mama give him one, and the girls two huge, heavy, boxes.  After they watched Papa open his Nook, they just assumed their large boxes were something else, and when they first opened them, they only saw a couple pairs of old shoes. Practically in tears, they looked deeper to find their own Nooks, and much screaming ensued!!!

Needless to say, Papa spent the next 5 hours working as tech support, since he couldn’t just give them a normal Nook, but dual-booted it with Android Gingerbread (Cyanogenmod 7, for all you geeks out there :)  ).  After some prodding from Mama, he finally got around to set them up as eBook readers … yeh, that’s why we got them 🙂

But, the best present of all, was to be together, healthy and happy.  Mama and Papa’s best presents were two that were over 10, and 12 years old, but only get better with age!!!!
Mama & Papa's presents under the tree

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Giving Thanks for Surf & Sun

For the second year in a row, we spent Thanksgiving down the shore and we couldn’t have asked for better weather! Papa did more work on the house in the morning, but in the afternoon we enjoyed a great dinner cooked by Mama with the whole Macera clan … topped off with a game of Quelf in the evening.  On black Friday, Papa, Uncle Sal & Nonno got up in the black of dawn to go fishing, and once again, Papa came back w/out dinner, but had a great time w/the Macera Men.  Then on Saturday Papa wasn’t sure if he would fish again, but while running on the beach, he passed a fisherman with a huge striper caught just blocks from home, so that afternoon, he packed up the truck and drove it onto the beach to try again. Once again, he came back empty handed, but he had a great time driving the truck in the sand, and even the girls came to visit, even though they sat in the truck, out of the wind, reading their books.

Uncle Sal on the rocks in LongportPapa on the rocks in LongportPapa's truck on the beach in OCPapa in the Ocean City surfFishing rod at sunsetOcean City sunset

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Snow, and Other Scary Things

Hey, it’s not even Halloween and we got our first snow fall of the season. On Saturday it we had almost 3 inches of wet, heavy snow. Papa & the girls went out to shake the trees and had a brief snowball fight. Papa ran for cover now that Elisa’s softball training is showing 🙁

First Snow, 2011 / Halloween decorations First Snow, 2011 / front tree First Snow, 2011 / Pergola First Snow, 2011 / Trampoline

But wait you say, “what about Halloween?”  Well the Maceras celebrated in traditional style.  Starting with Elisa’s “Haunted House” project for school.  This year, Elisa put a new spin on the project by designing a Haunted TREE House (not to be confused the the Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror) with realistic faux wood grain and it’s own scary inhabitant (some wood boring insect).  Since the house was ‘infested’ Papa had to photograph it at school, since Mama refuses to have it return to our house.

Elisa's Tree House Elisa's Tree House faux wood grain Elisa's Tree House restless bones

Back home, Papa carved the pumpkins, including one “fairytale” pumpkin that spontaneously grew from our compost pile in July! Of course we dumped the seeds back in the pile, so we’ll see if the Great Pumpkin returns again next year 🙂

Great Pumpkin, with Gabriella for sizePumpkin Still LifePumpkin Juicey CenterPumpkin Still LifePapa's PumpkinElisa's PumpkinGabriella's PumpkinCinderella's Pumpkin

And then there is the real scary part … the costumes! Once again, Mama invested a few hours making the girls’ costumes with a little technical assistance from Papa. Though Gabriella planned to have a bloody knife stick out of her head, she ended up just being a beautiful Renaissance Maiden in a poofy dress. Elisa went for the doubly gory costume as a two-headed monster … see if you can tell which one’s Elisa 🙂

Elisa @ the Halloween ParadeElisa @ the Halloween Parade IIElisa's on the left ... no, right.Gabriella the Fair MaidenGabriella's Big Butt

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Another Fall in Ocean City

Papa & the Girls at Corsons InletFall has come to OC, but you wouldn’t tell by the fact that we spent the day in the water yesterday, and today walking along the water in Corsons Inlet in t-shirts. The water temp is still about 70° so Papa had fun boogie-boarding, and running around with his new best friend Hazen, as well as playing freeze-tag with Charlotte, Hazen & Elisa. Today it was cooler, but still sunny, so instead of going to the beach, we opted for a walk through Corson Inlet’s park, onto the beach where tons of men & 4×4’s were hangin out, fishing. Papa’s planning to outfit the truck, and come back for some Striper fishing in October & November while Gabriella has plans to expand “Gabby’s Goodies” to cater to the cold fisherman with hot chocolate & desserts from “Gabby’s Goodies to Go” … look for her at a cold-weather event near you soon 🙂


Corsons Inlet trailCorsons Inlet flowersCorsons Inlet BulrushesCorsons Inlet BulrushesCorsons Inlet Beach


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