animals, Blog, creativity

Befuddled Day With a Touch of Joy

Image Courtesy of Molly Sharp Voorhees

Day 291

It was a bit of a mixed up busy day. I had a busy morning and a rushed afternoon trying to wrap up a few loose ends. Friday and Saturday I am taking a jewelry workshop with the fabulous Molly Sharp. What a great designer and a wonderful teacher! She teaches in her home studio in North Carolina and at locations throughout the U.S. and Mexico. (I hear rumors there are also possibilities of workshops in the U.K. and in Florence.) I am so excited. When I work on jewelry, I am able to lose myself totally in the process. It’s not easy work; it takes a great deal of focus and good eyesight (thank you magnifiers) and patience.

After I finished my afternoon miscellanea, I had to go out and run a few errands. I was feeling a little discombobulated and rushed. When I turned the corner to head back to the house, I saw a couple of deer on the roadside. I eased up to try and take some photos. I didn’t get too close before they got spooked and ran back into the woods. I checked for traffic (there was none) and stopped to get the photos. Suddenly, all the stress of the day just dissipated.

Here on the side of the road, life simply happens. It was peaceful and relaxing just to watch. I felt bad that I spooked them, but their instincts will serve them well. I am glad they are a little wary of people. This is hunting country.

Hubby went out tonight, so I just had a simple pasta salad for dinner. I sat in front of the TV and watched re-runs of NCIS. It suddenly started pouring rain. It was one of those hard-hitting but somehow relaxing rains. When I took my dishes into the kitchen, I saw this little guy stuck to the window.

 

So, although the day was a little crazy, the tradeoff is well worth it. I will have two days free to immerse myself in creativity. The photo at the top of the blog is a sample of the necklace we are making. Hopefully, I will have a photo of my creation to share later in the weekend.

For now, I am going to treat myself to a dish of frozen yogurt and call it a night.

Short blog posts until Sunday when I play catchup.

 

Blog, Mountains, music, Spouse

A Rare Night Out

Day 239

IMG_0042My husband has been looking forward to going to the North Carolina Arboretum for their new ArborEvenings on Thursday evenings. After a long day staring at the computer screen, I was ready for a break.

Tonight they had music by a local duo, Liz and Elizabeth. We were looking forward to a night to just get away for a bit.

It was a warm evening, and the mosquitos were out in full force as were the gnats. The Japanese Iris in the collage below is covered with little tiny insects, too.

The Arboretum is a wonderful collection of gardens and trails just south of Asheville. During ArborEvenings, the gates are open until 9:00 pm and the gardens are lit. The last Thursday of every month they have live music.

We walked around the garden and then went up toward the education center where they had drinks and light food for purchase and of course music. We grabbed a BBQ sandwich and a bottle of water and just listened to music for a while.

Tonight’s event was sponsored by Asheville Beer Week (which I never knew existed). We bought bottled water to drink rather than opting for beer or wine since we were driving. I got a kick out of the marketing on the labels of the bottled water.

Liz and Elizabeth were really enjoyable. I liked their melodious harmonies and loved the violin and guitar together. I am attaching a clip from their YouTube channel, but I enjoyed their music so much more live. It was a nice eclectic mix of country, folk and their own brand of acoustic music. I even found some new music I had never heard before and that is always a plus.

All in all, it was a good night to get out for a bit. It was one of those nights we just needed a few minutes to just walk through the gardens, enjoy the flowers and listen to some music. Not a bad way to spend a late spring evening and something we need to do more often.

 

 

animals, Blog, wildlife, Writing

Return of the Night Visitor

Day 211

I decided to get a quick blog out since we have a lot of running around on our calendar today. Tonight we will be attending our grandson’s spring band concert which is always wonderful. For a high school band, they are very impressive and the music selection is always enjoyable.

I woke at 6:30 a.m. this morning. The first thing I noticed was the pole for the bird feeder lying across the ground. I knew without a doubt what that meant. Our night visitor had returned. Bears are common in this area, although I would have thought there might be adequate natural food supplies out there right now. We learned two years ago that you cannot leave bird feeders out all night here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To be on the safe side, we took our pocket air horn with us on our morning walk. There was nothing to be seen. When we returned from our walk, I retrieved the card from the trail camera. There he was. A black bear. Most likely a couple of years old. He pushed over the bird feeder pole, found nothing, then went on his way. Look at the size of those paws!

Miscellaneous Catch-Up

  • I decided NOT to go on the writing retreat. I did some research and did not feel the facilitator was a good match for me. I felt the cost far outweighed the value.
  • Yesterday marked my first official day on Medicare. This represents a huge saving for us — at least so far.
  • For the last two or three weeks, every time I look at the clock the time is 11:11. My daughter told me that is a sign of angels being near. I like that. If you have something negative to say about that, keep it to yourself.
  • A meaningful rose produced a bud this morning. It is gorgeous and I know will disappear as quickly as it came.
  • The garden is doing well. We have a few blooms on the tomato plants, some tiny peppers on the pepper plants, small broccoli heads, and the radishes are coming up!
  • I saw what I thought were wild strawberries and I was so excited! Unfortunately, they turned out to be mock strawberries which may be an invasive species.
  • We saw our first black snake yesterday. Maybe he can take care of the moles that are tunneling through our yard.
  • Tomorrow I am going to stay with my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren for 3 or 4 days while my son is out of town. I see cooking and playing on my agenda.

There has been a lot on the news that weighs me down, but I am trying hard to maintain my perspective and focus on making a positive difference in my corner of the world.

Happy Thursday! Feel free to share your good news in the comments!

Blog, Mountains, travel

In the Midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Part 2

Day 207, cont.

When we left Little Switzerland, we decided since we had nothing pressing to do at home it would be a great day to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway home. Our GPS never lists it as a route, because it is hilly and curvy and the speed limit hovers around 35 or 40 mph.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic 469-mile scenic parkway that runs between Rockfish Gap, Virginia and ends near Cherokee, North Carolina. As with any project concerning setting aside land as part of a national park, the Parkway was not without its detractors. Today I am thankful it exists. Seeing this protected land makes me wonder how the terrain could have been impacted otherwise.

This is especially meaningful to me at a time when our national parks seem to be up for grabs to the highest bidder.

We stopped at every overlook between Little Switzerland and Craggy Gardens. Just before we reached Craggy Gardens, we decided to make the side trip up to the summit of Mount Mitchell. At an elevation of 6684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

So, with no more words, I will just share the photos from our drive. Enjoy!

I look very unhappy in that last picture! It was a steep little climb in some thinner air for this tired old lady. I was not unhappy at all. It was a truly glorious day!

art, Blog, Lapidary, Mountains, travel

In the Midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Part 1

Day 207

Yesterday was not only a cup half-full day it was a cup-runneth-over day. We were exhausted when we got home but it was the best kind of exhaustion!

We had a fairly leisurely morning with coffee and a bagel for breakfast then we headed up toward Spruce Pine for their annual Fire On The Mountain blacksmith festival. This is the third year we have attended. It is the perfect venue if you love moving metal with fire and seeing men in kilts!

On our way, we stopped at our same little road-side vegetable stand and bought a bunch of ramps to tuck away in the cooler. Ramps are a mountain delicacy that grows in moist higher elevations. They are a cross between an onion and garlic — very pungent but delicious. Ramps were one of the early vegetables that native Americans looked forward to after a long winter. There are ramp festivals throughout the mountains this time of year.

We headed on up to Spruce Pine to check out the festival. We always enjoy the youth blacksmithing competition. I love seeing young adults interested in learning these old-school crafts. The ‘try your hand at blacksmithing’ is always popular as are the demonstrations by the master blacksmiths. Hubby found a used Peter Wright anvil he wanted.

 

We met one member of a talented husband and wife team who combines metal, class, and enamel to create some beautiful pieces of art. I fell in love with the gates they make. We were invited to attend their studio tour in early June. Now if I only had a place to install one of those gates.

After we enjoyed our picnic on the tailgate of the car and a trip to the ATM, the 109-pound anvil was loaded into the car and we were on our way.

Since we were so close to Little Switzerland, we decided to check it out. It is a small village just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It boasts Swiss mountain lodges, gift shops, and a few places to eat. There are also some hiking trails, a book store, and some shops to enjoy. We were not interested in the touristy things so we just rode through and then drove over to check out The Emerald Mine of Little Switzerland. I am a novice lapidary enthusiast, so I am always on the hunt.

We were greeted at the sluice building by the caretaker Barbara. If I were to guess her age I would guess early 70’s. She was a rough-around-the-edges kind of gal. I had to continually ask her questions because she was not forthcoming with information. I discovered she bought the mine as a retirement venture and opened it to the public in 2004. Unfortunately, according to the website, her husband passed away so it may just be her running the place now.

They, like many other gem ‘mines’ in this area, offer buckets you can buy and sluice to find the hidden gems. I asked her if the buckets were salted — a term used to describe mixing foreign materials into the buckets of minerals not found natively in the area. She gave me that incredulous look and said “Of course they are salted. You can’t find that stuff here.”

We looked through the gift shop in an old cabin above the sluicing building. I was surprised to see a sign that listed prices for faceting gems found at the mine. Looking around the place, I could not imagine where this could happen. I turned and asked our host who she gets to facet the stones. She replied, “I do.” It seems. Barbara moved here from Washington, D. C. and faceting was something she had done prior to buying the mine.

We left with the promise to come back at a later time to actually go down and do some digging around the mine (the original mine shaft was closed years ago). She just nodded with the warning to call before we came. We chuckled at our interactions and wondered how tourists ‘from away’ might react to her. Her exterior was as hard as the rocks she sold, but I sensed a sweet soul under the rough exterior.

From there we decided to take the leisurely way home via the Blue Ridge Parkway. It probably increased our drive time an hour or so, but it was well worth the time.

For photos and details of our drive, look for part 2 later today.