Blog, flowers, gardening, gardens, Spring

Living In The Moment

Day 204

img_9647Yesterday was our warmest day of the year thus far. This morning the temps were a little cooler which made perfect walking weather.

The visual landscape around here is changing fast. Most of the azalea blooms are gone as well as the dogwood flowers and the native azaleas. We seem to have an abundance of rhododendron blooming this year. The irises continue to bloom but the spring flowering season is coming to a close. This morning I was greeted by a splendid white iris that had evidently bloomed. It was spectacular.

I love spring. It has to be my favorite season. I am always a little sad when the warm days and cool nights make way to hot days and equally hot nights. Right now we can still open the doors and windows, but with many more hot days, it will soon be time to close the house up and turn on the air conditioning.

We have a good start on our gardens. We have already had a salad out of our lettuce garden. It is so divine to have our own greens topped with the punch of flavor from fresh dill and cilantro. (Yes, I am one of those that love cilantro. Thankfully, so is hubby.)

I mentioned earlier that hubby raised our container garden. Last year we had so much rain and the ground was so saturated the garden could not drain. Our plants literally drowned.

Raising the garden was cumbersome. I told hubby I thought he over-engineered it which did not go over well. Sorry, but it was so heavy we almost could not turn it over. He basically attached legs of 4×4’s and put planks across the bottom, leaving spaces so the soil could drain. Then he covered it with landscape cloth to keep the dirt from falling through, then comes the soil and the mushroom compost then the planting. I asked him to keep the little ledge rather than even it up. Makes a good place to put pots and the watering can.

Friday we will go to the Asheville WNC Farmers Market for their annual Growing in the Mountains Plant Sale. This is where we usually find a nice array of native plants. We have a bad habit of buying more than we have room to plant, thus a lot of garden plants end up overflowing into individual pots.

Yesterday afternoon we went to help our friend unload his kiln after a 40+- hour soda ash firing. He is an amazing potter and the resulting work was beautiful. The community of artists in this area is inspiring.

Tonight we will go see our grandson at his final track meet of the season and next weekend we will drive to Charleston for our granddaughter’s piano recital.

It seems this retirement life is jam-packed full of things to do.

Blog, memories

Winsome Wednesday: Retro Toys of My Youth

Courtesy of Pixabay

Day 203

I am working on clearing more clutter and my mental clutter took me on a tour of the retro toys I used to enjoy. Those thoughts, of course, made me wonder if any of them still existed.

The first thing that popped up was a product called Dip It Fantasy Film. The product came with wire, instructions, and cans of colorful liquid plastic. I made a lot of plastic flower arrangements with this gooey gunk. It was great fun. The only problem was that they were dust collectors. Also, after a while, because the wire was so malleable, the flowers could loose the tension a bit. I was quite surprised this was still available for purchase. (I also seem to remember it having some fumes associated with it.)

Then, who can forget Super Elastic Bubble Plastic? It came in a metal tube. You squeezed the plastic (a misnomer) on to your hand, inserted a straw and proceeded to blow large plastic bubbles. This product was taken off the market because it contained toxic materials. I think the product has been re-engineered and is again for sale, but maybe not with the same noxious fumes?

One of the toys I enjoyed the most was actually my brother’s. The Girder and Panel Building set allowed for the use of girders to build tall buildings. The kit contained snap on panels that looked like windows or doors. I loved building with it. My brother’s idea for fun was of course different. After building a sky scraper, he would take a model airplane with a detachable nose, fill it with marbles and then ‘bomb’ the building.

Then there was the Christmas our dad bought a family (questionable) game to play. It was an electric football game. The game was large, shaped like a football field with two opposing football teams. The football was a wad of tightly woven cotton. The players ran the field by vibration. The base was plugged in, causing the field to operate and the players to run and tackle simply by running into each other. Of course, there was nothing to keep them from turning and running backwards.

My last retro toy is of course my favorite — Chatty Cathy. I remember mine like it was yesterday. She wore a dress with a red velvet top and a white eyelet skirt, white socks and red shoes. She had freckles and her auburn (not red) hair was in ponytails. That was the first time I had ever heard the word ‘auburn’. The doll had a string at the back of her neck and when pulled, Chatty Cathy would talk. I remember very well every phrase and every inflection of her voice. The fabulous June Foray was the voice of Chatty Cathy. A few years back, my daughters bought me a vintage working Chatty Cathy and I also have a miniature Chatty Cathy talking Christmas tree ornament. And because she is my favorite toy, I am attaching a short documentary on the creation and history of my beloved doll. If you loved a Chatty Cathy doll, you will enjoy it.

That’s it for today’s trip down memory lane. What vintage toys did you enjoy as a child? Were they dangerous?

attitude, Blog, courage, intimacy, Love, trust

“Excavate the Unsaid” – Exploring Vulnerability

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Day 202

“Excavate the Unsaid” is something Brené Brown said on her Netflix special The Call to Courage.

So many people in my circle are huge Brené Brown fans. They listen to all her Ted Talks and have read all her books. When I turned on Netflix last night, I was going in blind.

Coming off of Kyle Cease’s Love Rising videos, I was prepared for something similar, but I found it quite different. Not good or bad, just different.

I found a number of the things she said to be extremely powerful and were real takeaways for me. Learning not to exploit the pain in the people we love was a big one. This is an easy offensive go-to in the heat of a disagreement with someone you care about. It’s like taking the cheap shot. But I had never considered it as exploiting someone else’s pain. That idea requires some stepping back and taking stock of what we do to people we profess to love.

When someone is in pain, why would we want to hurt them further?

The other takeaway for me was “excavating the unsaid”. She gives a really long example of this from her own life which was enough to make the special worth watching. So often we have a story we create in our heads to explain the behavior of someone else. In many cases, the story we create is not based on anything but our imagination. Why isn’t it easier to simply ask for the truth? When we find truth, we find growth.

Digging deep with each other, especially people important in our lives, is essential in understanding. Being vulnerable is not easy, especially if there is no warm and welcoming place that makes you feel safe in being open and raw. Don’t ask someone to be vulnerable if you are unwilling to accept their vulnerability.

Based on my experience, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable has a lot to do with the gender roles we have learned throughout our lives. Men are not supposed to be vulnerable, but women, being the societal ‘weaker sex’, are often seen as vulnerable.

Brené also talks about the chicken and egg scenario when it comes to trust Versus the ability to be vulnerable.

I am glad I watched. I am not ready to go out and buy her books, but I do value what she shared. Each teacher comes into our lives at just the right time I think. Then it is up to us.

Perhaps we can become addicted to self-help trying to make sense of our lives. For me, I listen for the motivation to effect change in my life. Once I have heard the lesson, it is time to put the lessons learned into action. It will not matter how many teachers you have if you do not apply the lessons to your own life.

I would encourage you to watch The Call to Courage. It is a minimal investment of time and who knows, it might be what you need to hear.


Day 196 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Blog/This is it – There is always something to be grateful for.

I am reblogging today’s post from LSS Attitude of Gratitude’s blog. Today she embarks on the last 28 days of her work life before she begins a well deserved retirement. Her ability to find positivity and gratitude each and every day is amazing. Why not check out her blog and follow along?

via Day 196 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Blog/This is it – There is always something to be grateful for.

ancestors, Blog, genealogy, Mountains, travel

Out and About in North Carolina

Day 201

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Saturday, hubby and I trekked up to Boone, NC, to the Daniel Boone Native Gardens. They were having a wildflower walk and native plant sale. We had to leave early because the event ended at noon. As we crossed over the mountains into Blowing Rock, the mountains were socked in by fog. It certainly would not be a day for enjoying the mountain vistas.

Unfortunately, the gardens were a bit disappointing as was the sale. It was rainy and cold which made for a muddy garden and nurseries anxious to shut down and go home. We bought two native azaleas and went on our way.

From there we decided to have lunch at The Dan’l Boone Inn, a restaurant serving family style meals since 1959. It is one of the oldest historic buildings in Boone and has served as a residence and doctor’s office, Boone’s first hospital, and a residence hall for students of Appalachian State Teachers College.

This restaurant serves country-style meals family style. It was always a favorite of my sisters’ but I had not eaten there in years. The food is typical country, heavy in fats and calories and not our normal fare. But you know the old saying, “When in Rome…” I thought a lot about my sisters and how much this place meant to them, especially when they could get their children together to tag along.

After lunch, we decided to drive into West Jefferson. I have been anxious to go there to do some genealogical research since one branch of my family started out in Ashe County. Unfortunately, the library was closed for Easter weekend, so we went to the local museum. I enjoyed the displays very much. Especially the information on the railroad. There was even information on the wall about how the railroad crew gave food and clothing to needy families along the railroad. One conductor started the tradition of passing out lollipops on Saturdays to the children along their route. I wrote an earlier post about how I was one of those children.

Ashe County History Museum

img_9609Since it was a rainy and dreary day, we decided to go a little further north to the area where my ancestors once lived. It’s funny. You imagine you will drive into an area that remains untouched by the passing of time, but you quickly realize time marches forward everywhere. I did find the street signs marking the creeks where I know they lived. I will do more research and go back armed with better information the next time.

On our way back home we passed many of the tourist attractions of my childhood. Tweetsie Railroad, just outside of Boone, was always a big mountain attraction and the first theme park in North Carolina. It was billed as a Wild West themed park, although I would imagine some of the shows on the train may have changed from their politically incorrect ‘cowboy and Indian’ interactions. The park has a great history if you care to read more. It is still a very popular attraction.

We also passed Mystery Hill, another local attraction I remember as a kid. Mystery Hill is billed as a natural gravitational anomaly — more frequently referred to as a gravity hill. Of course, there is a scientific explanation, but why ruin the fun. It’s a place where water flows up and balls roll uphill instead of down.


Lastly, we drove past The Blowing Rock, another location steeped in legend. The rock is a metamorphic rock known as a gneiss. The rocky walls of the gorge below form a flume and light objects that are thrown from the rock will be returned by the flume — thus the fodder for the legends. Fun to read about and beautiful to observe, just not on a cold, windy and foggy day.

All in all, it was a pretty good day roaming the hills of North Carolina.

Blog, Easter

Reflections on Easter Morning

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Day 200

I woke up at 2:00 a.m. with Easter hymns running through my head. I was flooded with memories of Easter with my family and missing those times with my siblings, my parents and my grandparents.

Easter morning was always early as we almost always got up and went to Sunrise Service out on a hillside somewhere. If the weather (rain and snow) did not allow for it, we still got up and went to church.

I remember well the new crisp Easter dresses with crinolines that scratched my legs. We always had a shiny new pair of black patent leather shoes and on a rare occasion, an Easter bonnet. For some reason, my parents dressed my two older sisters as if they were twins, even though they were almost a year and a half apart — they hated it as they got older. My brother was always in a suit jacket which was a very rare site to see.

If we were lucky, we got to walk home from church while the adults stood on the front steps to talk. Listening to adults talk for what seemed like forever was the worst!

On the days leading up to Easter Sunday, we would dye Easter eggs. The dye was in the form of a hard tablet that required vinegar and water. It took forever for those tablets to dissolve! There was usually a wax crayon we used to write our names on the eggs so they would resist the dye. Let’s just say our Easter egg designs were not fine art.

After church there was always a big dinner, usually served around 3 in the afternoon. Our Easter baskets were in view all morning, but we did not get our Easter baskets until after we had eaten. Our Easter baskets were inexpensive woven baskets with long handles . Nothing like the stuffed-animal type of baskets today.

When we were younger we hid and hunted Easter eggs. If it rained, we hid them in the house, but I do not recommend that. It seems there is always one egg that gets lost until months later and that is an unpleasant discovery let me tell you!

I hope this morning hold good memories for you, no matter your belief system. Most of all I wish you peace.

Easter holds a lot of good memories for me. For those that celebrate, it is a celebration of the resurrection and the promise of everlasting life.

This morning I am saddened by the news coming out of Sri Lanka on this Easter Sunday. Such a senseless act of violence.