Tag Archives: North Carolina

Lovely Lilies

I am back in flat Florida, just in time for my weekly blog post. It’s pretty hot here. Some people thought it was hot in North Carolina, but those people were not from Florida. If you can sleep at night without air conditioning, it’s not hot. If you’re uncomfortable standing in full sun but comfortable in the shade, it’s not hot. If you can enjoy sitting on a porch swing at two o’clock in the afternoon while drinking a cup of coffee, it’s not hot.

Here, it’s hot. Still, it’s nice to be home (home, you should know, has air conditioning). After camping for nearly two weeks, it’s nice to be sleeping in a real house. It’s nice to wake up in the morning and plug in an electric kettle to heat water for coffee, instead of pretending to be asleep until my husband gets up and puts a kettle of water to heat on the propane stove. I know how to use a propane stove; I just prefer not to.

It’s nice to be sleeping in a king size bed instead of a four-foot wide teardrop trailer. It’s nice to be able to sprawl without bumping my head or my elbow or my sleeping (at least until I accidentally jab him while trying to adjust my position) husband. It’s nice that modern plumbing is just a few steps away, under the same roof. I won’t go into the “instead of” here. It’s complicated.

Yes, I am glad to be home. I have to admit, though, that I miss my sister and brother-in-law, who are still in North Carolina, and I miss my Turk’s Cap Lilies. We didn’t know they were Turk’s Cap Lilies when we first spied the tall plants on our land. They were striking because of the whorled leaves and the many thin buds at the top, so my husband googled them. He told me what they were and then we waited for them to start opening up.

The two plants just happened to be the first thing I saw each morning as I looked out the window of the teardrop trailer. The blossoms opened one after another until there were more than a dozen of them. The last one opened up the morning we had to hitch up the trailer and head home.
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I was glad we didn’t miss it.

Pictures of Asheville

I am trying to blog from my phone and I haven’t tried that before, so this could be a bumpy ride. Wednesday is my usual blog day but I spent Wednesday in Asheville,  North Carolina. I planned to write a blog post when I got back to my campsite in the evening, but it turned out I couldn’t get WordPress to load without wifi. Now I’m in my sister’s cottage, borrowing her wifi (thank you, Lucinda!) so I will give it another try.

Asheville is often called the Paris of the South because of its commitment to the arts and its acceptance of all things quirky. The first interesting thing that caught my eye was this bucket list board on the edge of a construction site in the middle of town. Chalk is provided.

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My husband and I browsed our favorite independent bookstore,  Malaprops, where I found a new novel, and then started trying to decide where to go for coffee. This is a tough decision in Asheville, where there’s a charming coffee shop on every corner, but we finally decided to go to City Bakery, where the sweet treats are as irresistible as the coffee.

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Thus fortified, we ventured back out into the streets, where art is everywhere. My husband had a specific goal in mind for an afternoon beer, but spied a new place on the way and decided to try it. His beer was hoppy; mine was root.

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After that stop, we did some more window shopping on our way to his original goal, the Funkatorium. This is an offshoot of Wicked Weed and specializes in sour beers.

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He had a flight, so he could taste four beers.  He pronounced them all excellent. I took a small sip of each one and liked the Bombadile best. It tasted of strawberries.

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Once we left the Funkatorium, we were ready to start thinking about supper.  Choosing a restaurant in Asheville is harder than choosing a coffee shop, for pretty much the same reason. There are just too many wonderful restaurants, with new ones opening all the time.

We ended up at Blue Dream and were not disappointed. They offered a concept we hadn’t seen yet in America – no tipping. The menu explains that their servers are well paid, with raises and bonuses, and the prices listed take this into account.

I had a curry dish with paneer. It was delicious.

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Storm clouds were rolling in as we finished our supper, so we high-tailed it back to our parking garage and reluctantly said adieu to the Paris of the South.

I took more pictures during our visit, but I think I’ve reached the limit of this Worpress app. Okay, I meant my patience. It amounts to the same thing.

 

On the Road Again

This will be a quick post. I can’t believe my husband managed to save some days off so we could do a little leaf-peeping this year. Our trip out West would have been well worth sacrificing the usual North Carolina Fall Color tour, but here we are, filling our hearts with even more beauty.

The View

The View


We are camping on our own little piece of land and admiring our own golden trees. Later, will will drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, our most familiar National Park. It might just be our favorite. It’s certainly the one we know best. I hope we get to know more and more National Parks in the years ahead, but I will always be grateful for this one. In Autumn, it feels like home.

Apple Season

Well, here I am, back in flat Florida and I never got a chance to paint while I was in North Carolina. The weather was only completely clear one day while we were there and we spent that day cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway, admiring the beautiful leaves. There was no time to set up in one place for hours and paint. I will keep that on my wish list for another trip.

I did paint today, though, and there is a North Carolina connection. We never go to North Carolina in October without visiting an apple orchard. Sometimes we visit more than one. This time, we went to our favorite, Justus Orchard in Hendersonville. We picked out a half-bushel of apples, a mixture of Arkansas Black, Mutsu and Pink Lady. I like my apples crisp and tart.

This morning, I took one of each and put them on a plate. I put the plate on a yellow cloth and then I painted my little still life. I like it.

Apples on a plate

Apples on a plate


The green one is the Mutsu. You can probably figure out the other two. While I was in the middle of painting this, my older daughter called. She wanted to come over and do some laundry. She wanted to bring my grandsons with her so we could do some thrift store shopping later. Thrift stores are great for finding inexpensive costume elements. Halloween is only nine days away, after all. I agreed to pick her up, but I told her I was in the middle of a painting and I needed to get right back to it as soon as we returned to my house. Fortunately, they only live five minutes away.

My grandsons were kind enough to leave me alone while I finished my painting. Then the younger one said he would like to paint, too. I offered him one of my itty bitty canvases, but he said he would rather have a “medium” one, meaning one the size of my apple painting. I found him an 8” x 10” and let him use the paint left on my palette.

KM picture

KM picture


He’s in a Halloween mood, so it’s a bit creepy, but I think it also has an innocent charm. He likes the pthalo blue as much as I do. He’s six years old, so he’s getting an early start with the fine art supplies. This particular grandson is the first person (besides myself) to own one of my paintings. He asked me for one months ago and chose my itty bitty snowman painting that I made when I went to North Carolina in March. He put it in his bedroom, near his pillow, to keep nightmares at bay. It makes me happy to know my little snowman is watching over him.

We went pumpkin shopping and thrift store shopping in the afternoon. I took them home when the laundry was all done and then I gathered the apples from my still life, plus a few more, and I made an apple pie.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie


I painted, I spent time with my grandsons and I baked. This has been a good day.

Beauty

I am on vacation and I should be able to give myself a special dispensation to skip this week’s blog post but, darn it, a commitment is a commitment. It’s Wednesday and I will post something. If anyone has been hoping I might write something short and sweet that won’t take long to read, this is your lucky week!

I brought my paints with me but I haven’t had a chance to spend time painting, which is a shame because Autumn in North Carolina is the one thing I most want to paint. I have done a couple of small drawings, just to keep my hand in. It’s amazing to me how doing even one small drawing opens up my mind and heart.

I look up from my sketchbook and everything is beautiful. Every single leaf, stone and weed makes my heart sing. Then we go out for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and see things like this:

The lower falls at Graveyard Fields

The lower falls at Graveyard Fields


Graveyard Fields

Graveyard Fields


It’s really going to be hard to return to flat Florida.

Healing Time

My husband and I had been planning for weeks to spend out fortieth wedding anniversary in North Carolina, but then he had a heart attack and we were afraid his doctor would not let him travel. We asked about it at his follow-up appointment in early June and were delighted when the doctor said it would be all right, as long as my husband was careful rebuilding his strength and didn’t try to do too much.

We had to rule out camping on our land, but we did not have to rule out North Carolina. We spent a few days, including our June fifteenth anniversary, at a hotel in Asheville. Then we spent two days at my sister’s cottage near Burnsville. Her cottage is just over the ridge from our land, so we were able to visit and check on our overgrown bench and fire pit. We also planted a new Japanese Iris, which we had bought at the tailgate market in Asheville.

The market was a feast for the eyes. I was wishing I could just set up an easel and paint for hours, right in the middle of it. There were buckets full of sunflowers.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers


There were baskets of colorful squash.
Squash

Squash


There were pies.
Pies

Pies


And there were irresistible irises.
Iris

Iris


We went straight from this market in Asheville to the smaller one in Burnsville and then we took our new iris to our land to plant it. It joined a red hot poker we planted last year and a Korean Lilac we planted a few years ago. We were pleased to see that the older plants had survived and were doing well. We spent some time relaxing on my sister’s front porch before we drove back to Asheville.
Getting Ready to Plant

Getting Ready to Plant


Relaxing With This View

Relaxing With This View


Asheville is lovely and we enjoyed our time there but we wouldn’t go all the way to North Carolina and not visit the Blue Ridge Parkway. One day, we went to Mt. Mitchell with my sister and her family. Another day, we went to Craggy Gardens. Mt. Mitchell is my husband’s favorite spot on (or near) the Parkway. Craggy Gardens is mine. On a normal trip, we would hike the trail to Craggy Pinnacle but my husband did not feel up to the climb, so we took the Craggy Flats trail instead. It’s less challenging but no less beautiful.
Craggy Flats

Craggy Flats


All of my favorite scenery is in Western North Carolina and I dream of spending long days in those mountains once I learn to paint landscapes. Those are the landscapes I most want to paint, but it’s hard to find time to paint on a six-day visit. We strolled the streets of Asheville, visiting boutiques and galleries and my husband’s favorite pub, The Thirsty Monk. We enjoyed delicious meals at restaurants like Katmandu Cafe and The Noodle Shop (helpful hint: if you go to Asheville, DO NOT waste your time eating at a chain restaurant. Choose a local restaurant. You won’t regret it). We scouted plant nurseries with my sister and played whist after dinner in her cottage.

It was a lovely, restful, healing vacation, but I was afraid I would not find time to paint at all. Then, on our last day in North Carolina, we bought an old-fashioned lilac. When we took it to our land to plant it, I took my acrylic paints. I was determined to paint something before I had to come back to Florida.

I painted our new iris.

Iris Painting

Iris Painting


I had to do it quickly – there was still supper and whist planned for the evening – so it’s a small, simple painting, but it sure made me happy to do it. I didn’t carry all my paints to North Carolina for no reason. I painted!

Weekend Fun

I blogged early last week because I was going out of town for a long weekend in the mountains. My husband and I have a small piece of property in Western North Carolina and he wanted to visit before the trees and shrubs leafed out, so he could see the true lay of the land. Our bit of hillside is just over a ridge from my sister’s property, where she and her husband built a cottage last fall. The cottage will be their summer place and they were hoping to live in it a bit last year before wintering in Florida, but it wasn’t finished in time, so this was their first visit, as well as their first time hosting guests.

We had been keeping an eye on the weather for weeks, trying to find a time when the travel and access would be safe for Florida flatlanders in a two-wheel-drive vehicle. We chose this past weekend because there were supposed to be two days of full sun after a couple of rainy days, one of which would be our travel day. We figured we’d be okay as long as there was no frozen precipitation.

We left here early Friday morning and enjoyed a reasonably dry trip on the interstate, where we saw early spring flowers in the fields and on the fences throughout Georgia and South Carolina. In North Carolina, the only color came from daffodils, but they were everywhere. The gravel road to the cottage was a little wet, but easily passable. We had run into some brief showers on the road, but no heavy rain, and we hoped Saturday would be the same.

We slept in a bit on Saturday because we had celebrated our first evening in the new cabin with wine and Whist. I’m not very good at wine (I took a sip to toast our first night in the new cottage) but I’m great at Whist. Well…I’m great at having a good time at Whist even if I’m not getting good cards and I keep having to play forced fours. I love Whist as long as there’s a hope that I might get a good hand the next time. Whist and Chicken Foot are the only things that will keep me up past nine o’clock.

We went to town on Saturday to do a little shopping. It was gray and wet in Burnsville. That made it a good day to get in some groceries and sundries. When we started to get hungry, we decided to go to Spruce Pine. There was a pizza restaurant there with a microbrewery. We had tried to check it out on previous trips but never managed to catch it on a day that it was open. Saturday seemed like a good bet and it sure wasn’t a good day for sight-seeing.

We were just sitting down in the pizza place when my sister got a phone call from her North Carolina neighbor, alerting her to a new weather forecast which included the possibility of snow. Snow? We had chosen this weekend because there was no ice or snow in the forecast! Now they were saying we might get one to three inches during the night. We enjoyed our pizza (my husband enjoyed his flight of six tiny glasses of beer) and then headed to a grocery store to make sure we would have enough food to get us through Sunday, just in case there was enough snow to keep us from wanting to chance the gravel road. Some folks were still saying there might be no snow, or it might not stick if it fell.

Back at the cottage, we played more Whist and went to bed pretty late, with no sign of snow coming down outside. My brother-in-law was the first one up in the morning and asked us if we had looked out the window.

“Is there snow?” we said.

He didn’t answer, so we got up and looked out the window. Yes, there really was snow! There was a light dusting on all the trees and on the ground and on the front porch of the cottage. We wouldn’t have come if we’d known it was going to snow, but it sure was a nice treat to see it from the warm coziness of the cottage. Of course, my husband had to go out on the porch and build a tiny snowman.

The sun came out in the afternoon and melted all the snow, but the snowman will live forever, because I painted this itty bitty portrait.

Tiny painting of tiny snowman

Tiny painting of tiny snowman

My Little Blue Teardrop Trailer

I’m having a busy week, but not a creative week. I’m preparing for a trip to the mountains. My husband and I own a small piece of property in North Carolina. We love our little hillside, but it has no improvements other than a driveway, so that means we’ll be camping. When this man agreed to spend a lifetime with me, I was a young woman who loved camping. I hate to be a party pooper now, but I am getting way too old to sleep on the ground. That’s why I’m delighted that my husband built a tiny teardrop trailer for us to sleep in.

We used to own a fairly large RV, but it was so big that we could hardly ever afford to take it anywhere. Even when we could afford the gas, there was no way either of us was going to drive it on those twisty mountain roads in North Carolina. Okay, there was no way I was going to drive it under any circumstances, but even my much braver husband was not going to drive it up there. We would travel light and bring a tent. I tried to be a good sport about it, but it was a lot of work and in October, it was way too cold, even on an air mattress in a down sleeping bag. I was chilled to the bone the last few times we took a tent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. When we got in the car to go sight-seeing, I would crank up the heat until my poor husband was sweating and I still did not feel warm. This led to expensive extra hotel nights. With Jacuzzis.

The teardrop was the perfect solution. We first saw them on a show called “RV Crazy” on HGTV and we immediately recognized their quirky owners as kindred spirits. My husband started lurking on a forum which provided guidance and step-by-step instructions for building a teardrop trailer. There were plans you could get for free and there was a whole community of helpful people who would answer questions. My husband bought a small metal utility trailer and got to work. He kept asking me how I wanted it to look and I kept saying the most important thing was that it had to be cute.

I think he nailed it.

Cute!

Cute!

I absolutely love this little trailer. The walls are insulated, so it’s toasty warm even when the only heat source is two human bodies in a small space. It has tiny cupboards over the bed inside for our personal things, and it has a whole galley in the back. My wonderful husband made all the shelves and drawers himself. He asked me to pick out the blue paint for the outside and then I made tie-dyed curtains to match.

Nice galley

Nice galley

We took it to the Blue Ridge Parkway before it even had all its cupboards and we just loved being up off the ground when we were camping. We started taking it to folk festivals, which was so much fun I ended up writing a yodeling song about it, and now that we have land in North Carolina, we take it there and make ourselves at home in it for a week. It has a sturdy RV battery that keeps the lights going when we’re boondocking and the galley holds all the tools we need for fixing meals and making coffee. Coffee is important. Ask anyone who’s seen me before I’ve had my first cup in the morning.

The RV was too big and the tent was too small. Our little blue teardrop trailer is just right.

I’m back!

This was not unexpected. I knew there wasn’t much likelihood of a blog entry getting done in April or May. Our biggest tie-dye event is on Memorial Day weekend and we spend all of April and May getting ready for it. After a twelve-hour dyeing day, I just don’t seem to have much enthusiasm for blogging. Okay, so what’s my excuse for June?

Well, first there was the recuperation time. That came after the putting-together-the-deposit time and included the getting-over-the-cold-I-caught-at-the-festival time. Then came the vacation time. My husband and I always take a vacation in June, usually around our anniversary on June 15th. This time, we left on the 14th and stayed until the 21st. We camped out on our North Carolina land and we spent a couple of nights in Asheville. My sister and her husband also spent time in North Carolina that week, so we were able to get together and share some bucket-list busting fun.

I have always wanted to walk a labyrinth and my sister had told me about a beautiful one made of lavender at Mountain Farm in North Carolina. We got there just in time for the Lavender Festival this year, so I was able to walk the Lavender Labyrinth and enjoy all kinds of special activities. Rumor has it that the folks in charge of the farm and the festival will be closing the place to the public before next summer, so we caught the very last Lavender Festival. Mountain Farm is still open to the public, at least for now, and I highly recommend this beautiful spot for the lavender, the llamas, the adorable baby goats and a gift shop full of lavender-infused products.

We decided to try the smokey salt, which includes lapsang souchong tea and lavender. We put it on just about everything we cooked over a fire back at our campsite and it improved everything it touched.
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The labyrinth at Mountain Farm let me cross one thing off my bucket list. Later the same day, we went to the Rhododendron Festival in Bakersville and I was able to check off one more item. When we were first looking at land in North Carolina, Bakersville was one of the places where we met our realtor before heading off to look at properties. I remember noticing a pretty walkway along the river there and I wanted to take a closer look. We didn’t have time on that trip, but once we actually bought land in the area, that walk went on my bucket list. It’s called the Bakersville Greenway and it offers a beautiful stroll along the river – made even more delightful this day by the presence of festival vendors, including soft-serve ice cream. That was a nice treat on a hot day.
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That was the second item I got to cross off my bucket list on my June vacation. The third one was the best of all, because it had been more of a fantasy than a goal, since I didn’t know if it was a real possibility. My sister bought her land before we bought our land, which is just over a ridge from hers, in Green Mountain Township near Burnsville. In the thrill of that purchase, I imagined that one day, we might be able to sing at an open mic together in Burnsville. This June, it happened, on a Friday night in a restaurant called “Mary Jane’s Bakery Cafe”.

It was a spur-of-the-moment suggestion from my sister and I’m not usually that spontaneous, but I am so glad I said “yes”! It was a casual open mic and a very friendly gathering. We had a great time singing and yodeling, and we got to see some amazing picking from the host and his bandmates. There was also a poet who shared her work and it was quite good, moving and honest and delivered with style.
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The food was outstanding and we will definitely go back, even if it’s not open mic night. It was a wonderful last evening of a fabulous vacation and I am still feeling relaxed and inspired from my trip to the mountains. I hope that means I will be finishing some of the creative projects I have started since my return, so my bucket list won’t be the only list getting attention. My “fifty things” list here is feeling neglected. Soon, fifty things list, soon!