Calendars – Part 2

And without further ado, the conclusion of the two part series “Calendars”, brought to us by a very special guest author!

Having literally been at the mountaintop with my Montreat calendar, I wondered what I could attempt for an encore. I knew better than to just pick some more pictures from my BRP/Montreat trip, as going down that path with my second year of Keukenhof photos was less than satisfying. Plus, you only get one chance at making a first impression and any other Montreat calendar I did would just be compared to last year’s calendar. I needed a new idea but didn’t know where to turn. Interestingly, my inspiration came from my adult daughter who for better or worse shares many of my own qualities (or flaws as my wife would say).

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For over a year, I had been following my daughter’s photo blog on flickr, where she posted a daily capturing of a photo and a thought to go with it. I had thoroughly enjoyed this connection and insight into her daily life even though she was almost two thousand miles from her childhood home. I thought what a wonderful reminder she would have of each day when she looked back on these posts years from now. How could I make this idea work for a calendar?

Getting 30 pictures on a single calendar page would be next to impossible and would certainly lose impact due to their small size, but surely I could capture one or two photos from each month to feature. And 2011 had been quite an eventful year to boot as our oldest son and daughter each got married and our daughter and future son-in-law got their PhD degrees. But as anyone knows, coming up with an action plan after the year is over is doomed for failure. My belated plan was no exception to that rule. In looking back over my year of photos that December (which is easy since I create digital folders by calendar year for them on my computer), I realized some months I hadn’t even taken a photo.

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So my first retrospective calendar included many months with spectacular events featured but also a few months where a photo was “borrowed” from another month. Call it cheating or creative license.

Despite my poor planning in the previous year, every month of 2012, I enjoyed seeing that calendar hung on the side of the refrigerator. Some times I would go by just to glance at it, not even needing to check a date, just to relive the moment.

Now the 2012 calendar has just been taken down and replaced with my first real time engineered 2013 calendar. What joy it was upon its arrival to flip through each month and see what memories I would be reflecting on throughout 2013. As intended, each month of this latest calendar includes one or more significant event photos taken in that month in 2012. The spectrum ranges from something as exciting as a raging river through the mountains of Canada as seen from a scenic train ride to a peaceful foggy fall morning on the lake in our neighborhood captured as I glanced over on my way home from the gym.

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Part of the fun is picking the best or most significant shot at the end of the year for the cover. This year’s cover was an easy guess.

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The arrival of that latest calendar must have been swirling in my mind while I slept since I woke up one morning motivated to write all of this down. When I sat down to write, my first thought was “I love calendars” and I thought, “That sounds crazy: you’re a scientist; that doesn’t even make sense.” But after writing this I understand even as a fact-based scientist, that the idea makes perfect sense. It’s the emotional chemistry that can’t necessarily be analyzed in the laboratory. It’s always there, invisible but underpinning us and we just have to make sure we don’t ignore it, but live it because it adds such richness to our lives and experiences.

I also have started my 2014 calendar. Thanks to a year-end trip that spilled over to the New Year and family home for the holidays, I already have two pictures for January 2014. Maybe I will hit that 30 this year.

And one last crazy thought: I think I still have every one of these old calendars. A collection that started in my youth with a simple love for Montreat and the Smoky Mountains is now tucked away in boxes or drawers, hidden treasures waiting to be rediscovered.
DSC_0102 Having lived and enjoyed a year with a calendar, it just has never seemed right to throw it away. On more than one occasion, I even thought I would cut one of the photos from the calendar and frame it although I never have. I guess that’s the practical side of me, not wanting to try to figure out how to fix a photo with a hang hole at the top of it. Maybe a benefit of enduring the “you never throw anything away” comments all these years is that these calendars can be unearthed. Now where should I look first…

Calendars – Part 1

I am positive I have spent lots of time on this blog  thanking my husband for being so supportive of my creative pursuits. In his eyes, every sock I knit is a piece of perfection, each pencil drawing a masterpiece.  I know I can’t be as smart, talented, and just plain cute as he says I am ! When I decided to try a blog he was cheering me on all the way. I know  each blog post I publish will always have at least one kind  comment thanks to him, my most faithful reader.  He always says after reading a post, ” I could never have written something like this”‘ or “I never would have thought of that”. And I always reply, “Of course you could!” And now, guess what? He has!  And because he has, Mindfulmagpie has its  very first guest writer!  Enjoy!

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As far back as I can remember I have always loved calendars. To have such an affection for what many may view as just a utilitarian item may seem odd, but this love affair actually traces back to one of my favorite places on earth. Every year growing up, my family vacationed in Montreat, NC, a place well known to any Presbyterian and certainly even more so to someone who grew up as the son of a Presbyterian minister.

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Envision a place nestled among the mountains where the entire town is your backyard chock full of fun adventures like fishing, swimming, canoeing, hiking, rock hopping, mountain climbing, making arts and crafts, playing all sorts of sports or simply relaxing beside a waterfall, reading a good book. Many Presbyterians consider it heaven on earth. My three siblings and I have had a lifelong connection with this idyllic place. Every year during our stay, we would buy a “Montreat” calendar for the following year.  As I grew older and started my own family, my parents would bring me back a calendar on their trip there even when it was not possible for me to go.

So how could a calendar bring such joy from childhood all the way through to adulthood? What better reminder of your fun filled vacation than a calendar filled with pictures  of the place where you made  most cherished memories? While the pictures were not exclusively photos from the Montreat area, they were of western North Carolina and almost all from the Smoky Mountains, another regular destination for our vacation. Each year the calendar would bring another twelve months of remarkable photos taken by Andy Andrews and each month the photo would show a scene of how it might look in that month. With this gem on our wall at home all year, we would get a constant reminder of that special place every time we glanced at the calendar to check a date.

Sadly, this tradition came to an end when the photographer died sometime after the start of the new millennium. And even more sadly, no one picked up the torch of Andy’s enduring activity. I know I was devastated when this ended and I am sure my siblings were as well when 2002 became our last “Montreat” calendar. For a couple of years, I tried finding other calendars from the Smoky Mountains to extend the magic but they never lived up to the original calendars.

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After this failed attempt, I floundered for a few years trying calendars depicting other beautiful scenes but never found a worthy substitute. At some point, and now I don’t recall how, I came up with the idea of making my own calendar. This opened up a whole new palette for me but the challenge was deciding what photos to use. I knew I could never recreate the Montreat calendars since I didn’t live in the area and I certainly couldn’t take monthly trips to take photographs. But I knew I wanted to capture imagines of something else as close to my heart.

During my years of calendar floundering, my international travels led me to a new discovery. Having visited The Netherlands for many years for business reasons, I finally arrived in the perfect time of year to visit Keukenhof Gardens, an enormous park in Lisse, a short ride from Leiden. The gardens allow only a short two-month season to enjoy the splendor of seven million bulbs in bloom.

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Visiting Keukenhof surrounded by thousands of blooming, fragrant hyacinths awakened in me a previously hidden love for flowers. While none of my siblings had ever been there to see it and it certainly held no childhood memories, this was surely where my calendaring efforts should go.

My first attempt at making a calendar was pretty basic and very amateurish. But having a trove of photos from six separate visits to Keukenhof, I launched in undaunted. I purchased an inexpensive software package for my computer and hand picked each photo trying as much as possible to pick a theme or color scheme that tied in with an event occurring in that month (orange flowers in October, reds and greens in December). I printed each calendar page and each photo on an InkJet printer (boy did I go through the print cartridges) making sure the prior calendar month was oriented correctly on the back of the current month photo and  then hand assembled them for spiral binding at a local photocopy shop.  I even  punched the hang hole at the top of each page  when I found out it would be an extra $5 just to have the holes punched during the spiral binding process.

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I was so proud of my creation that I turned our playroom into a mini manufacturing shop floor and manually created three more to give one to each of my siblings for Christmas. While the location meant nothing to my siblings other than some pretty flowers, it was my best attempt to replace the Montreat calendar. Having gotten positive feedback from my first attempt, a second Keukenhof calendar came off my manual presses the next year as I had only scratched the surface of my vast supply of literally hundreds of Keukenhof photos.

Next year, I became aware of the magic of iPhoto and the built-in calendar creating function, having become a recent convert from PC to Apple. Wow, what I could do with this software and the professional looking calendars printed by Apple! With just the click of a single button, my calendar could be electronically transmitted, professionally printed by Apple and then sent by return mail in just a few short days. This certainly solved my technology problem, but what of my subject? Someone probably only wants so many pictures of flowers; I had to find a new subject.

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Returning to my roots in 2010, I fulfilled a long held dream of driving the entire 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). In addition to being a lovely scenic drive, the BRP held fond memories from my childhood for the multiple side trips we had also taken every year on the short drive to Mt. Mitchell,  the tallest peak east of the Mississippi River and favorite cook out spot above the clouds. As a child, I always envisioned as my Dad drove us there what fun it would be to drive it in a little sports car and since the Parkway goes right through Asheville, NC, just 35 miles west of Montreat, I could combine a stop there for my picturing taking as well. Armed with a nice digital SLR and the knowledge of improved calendar technology at home, I set out to photograph “The Calendar of All Time.”

Since my wife had no desire to take a vacation to drive almost 500 miles just for the sake of driving on a road, I set off alone in my little red convertible for what ended up being a combined 2000 miles over five days including the round trip to and from Memphis just to get there. I combined the BRP with a drive on the 105 mile Skyline Drive which ends at mile marker 0 for the BRP. To say the trip was a success is an understatement. Being alone on such a long trip gives one a long time to reflect and reminisce.

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There were beautiful scenes to see and photograph, tears of happiness, but also tears of childhood loss and remembrances of times gone by. Some of these emotions came to me as I was driving or shooting a certain spot but many came to me at night when I was alone scrolling through the day’s photos. For someone who loves cars, loves to drive and loves that area of the country, it truly was the trip of a lifetime.

That December I carefully assembled the calendar with my new technology, taking care to ensure that each month’s theme was appropriately represented in the selected photo. How magical it was to include a rural mountaintop barn in front of a live Christmas tree farm for the month of December!

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Putting the calendars in the mail that cold December morning, I imagined my siblings feeling swept away with joy and memories as they opened their envelope realizing we would once again be joined together, though miles apart, gazing at a “Montreat” calendar daily throughout the coming year.

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Winter Holiday Club

Who wants to join the Winter Holiday Club? Requirements: Wish fervently for snow so that we can all stay home. Go nuts when it does snow. And most importantly, sing the Winter Holiday  Theme Song. I’ll teach it to you now. It is sung to the the tune of the song “Happy Holidays”. The lyrics are “Winter holiday.” Just those two words. As soon as the first flakes fall, or as soon as the forecast seems bound to actually come true, members are to serenade other humans and pets with the lovely song. If no one is around to serenade, then the telephone may be used to share your joy. Dancing while singing is optional. After numerous stanzas, or when you are are told to please stop, go find your snow clothes and get outside!

Since so many of you will  be joining, I’ll go ahead with my Club Report. I, as founding member of the Club,  have gotten a head start on the snow season by spending the new year in Banner Elk, North Carolina. That is not cheating. Many of us do not live in a place where we can count on snow every year. We have to go places where we can be surrounded in winter loveliness.

My destination at Banner Elk was Boulder Falls Retreat, owned by our dear friends Beth and Jim. Their mountain oasis, which they rent out through VRBO when they are not using it, has everything one could want in a mountain hideaway: mountain views, privacy, comfy furnishings, toasty fireplace, hot tub, and a waterfall on the property. Who wouldn’t dream of being snowed in there, sipping a warm drink by the fire, and listening to the rushing mountain stream outside?

Boulder Falls Retreat. It's only a few years old.

Boulder Falls Retreat. It’s only a few years old.

As we drove to the cabin a few days after Christmas, I thought I might get my wish of being snowed in. About an hour out of Banner Elk we ran into snow, sleet, and hail. Yippee! Would it stick? We didn’t know, but when we left the cabin to eat dinner, the roads had become more treacherous. We decided not to venture further that night, and pulled off the road to eat at a place I will not recommend.

Jim is not a member of the  clergy, but it looks as though he is either praying that our car made it to the restaurant or that we would be able to eat the sub par food.

Jim is not a member of the clergy, but it looks as though he is either praying that our car would make it home from the the restaurant or that we would be able to eat the sub par food.

Back at the cabin, snow continued to swirl around us. I wanted to take pictures, but night pictures of snow are way beyond my skill level. Sadly, lots of the snow had blown away in the morning. But I was not to be deterred. Right after a heavenly breakfast of sour dough bread French toast on a bed of melted butter and warm maple syrup, ( Good food is a vital part of WINTER HOLIDAY)  I donned my “I only wear this stuff once a year” snow togs, grabbed my camera and got outside for WINTER HOLIDAY!!!!!

Rushing water outside the cabin.

Rushing water outside the cabin.

Don't worry. I'm the only one out here.

Don’t worry. I’m the only one out here.

Since I was apparently the only one celebrating WINTER HOLIDAY, I was on my own to explore the environs, and try different settings on the camera.  Being alone in the snow is a delightful solitude. And it was magical! The world was white, crisp, and clean. I could hear only my crunching boots and the icy water tumbling over the boulders. Overnight, the world had decorated itself just for me.

The waterfall behind the house.

The waterfall behind the house.

DSC_0351I continued a ways down the road before making my way back to the cabin and sliding down some boulders on their property to climb some railing onto one of the porches. From there I could take pictures of the view beyond the cabin.

There were no takers for the rocking chairs that day.

There were no takers for the rocking chairs that day.

Later that day, my hostess and I drove into Boone to try to stimulate the economy while the men visited the local family billiard hall. No alcohol, no cola, good burgers.We celebrated the evening with a hearty winter dinner of kale, sausage and pasta.

Downtown Boone, North Carolina

Downtown Boone, North Carolina

DSC_0381The next morning the four of us debated whether to go snowshoeing or to hike the trail at Linville Gorge Sate Park. Because our hosts had more company coming that afternoon we opted for hiking at Linville Falls. But first we had to bulk up with this mountain breakfast of crispy hash browns, eggs, crumbled bacon with toasted sour dough bread. Disclaimer: If you rent the Boulder Falls Retreat, the owners will not be there to cook; you’re on your own.

Was I in danger of becoming spoiled?

Was I in danger of becoming spoiled?

Without a doubt. Especially with the freshly ground Peet's coffee my husband made us each morning.

Without a doubt. Especially with the freshly ground Peet’s coffee my husband made us each morning.

Vigorous outdoor exercise is a vital part of WINTER HOLIDAY.  The idea is to challenge yourself physically and go inside and treat yourself to whatever goodies you want. Linville Gorge had just the kinds of hills and trails I needed to hike. And the views were spectacular.

The falls.

The falls.

Here I am with our hostess. I was trying not to look as though I were afraid I would fall off into the chasm below.

Here I am with our hostess. I was trying not to look as though I were afraid I would fall off into the chasm below.

These beautiful vistas were worth the climb over a sometimes slippery trail.

These beautiful vistas were worth the climb over a sometimes slippery trail.

This fungussy stuff reminds me of  hydrangea leaves.

This fungussy stuff reminds me of hydrangea leaves.

Shiny snow crystals.

Shiny snow crystals.

After many bracing ups and downs, and photo ops, the four of us were tired and chilled. And we ALL recalled an establishment we had passed on the road, advertising coffee and desserts. How convenient that we would be passing by there on our way back!

Winter Holiday Club members are always on the lookout for a place like this!

Winter Holiday Club members are always on the lookout for a place like this!

After our exertions, did Linville Mercantile ever hit the spot! The proprietors don’t need publicity from the likes of me; they’ve been featured in Rolling Stone and other publications. Apparently the area has  “Merlefest”, and the Rolling Stone writers dropped in then, and kept coming. And if you had walked in that place with a freezing nose and freezing hands and smelled that sour dough bread fresh out of the oven, you’d keep coming back too. DSC_0477

It can be hard to remain civilized when someone sets down a loaf of steaming hot fresh bread in front of you.

It can be hard to remain civilized when someone sets down a loaf of steaming hot fresh bread in front of you.

I think the owner said there were one dozen eggs in this cake.

I think the owner said there were one dozen eggs in this cake.

Oh, the steaming hot bread and butter! Oh, the apple butter! Oh, the pineapple upside down cake! Have mercy!I f I hadn’t had the option of getting up to take pictures I don’t know if I could have maintained decorum; I may have reached right cross the table and crammed an entire loaf of bread into my mouth.

Other customers also trying to act civilized.

Other customers also trying to act civilized.

More desserts for next time!

More desserts for next time!

I wish I could have lingered to shop.

I wish I could have lingered to shop.

Or set a spell on the porch.

Or set a spell on the porch.

We arrived back at the cabin in time to prepare for six New Year’s Eve  guests: two neighbors with their two houseguests for cocktails, plus two more houseguests for Beth and Jim, Allan and Janet. My husband and I didn’t know any of these people, but we joined right in, chatting about where to stay in Italy, weddings in Scotland, and life in the Czech Republic.  See what good fun the Winter Holiday Club members experience?

When the cocktail guests departed, we enjoyed a chicken and olive dish for dinner, with bourbon cake for dessert.DSC_0490DSC_0492 Grouped comfortably around the fireplace. the four of us welcomed the New Year with toasts of homemade limoncello. My only regret was that I was way too full to contemplate getting in the  hot tub. Maybe next year.

All too soon it was morning, and time for my husband and me to make the nine hour drive home, where no snow would await us. We had time for one more mountain breakfast at the Grandview. By the time we all ordered I could see we were going to have the whole works: corned beef hash, grits, biscuits, eggs, sausage – in short, everything people our age are not supposed to have.DSC_0493DSC_0494DSC_0495 But we did have good company while eating  it!

DSC_0497We took leave of friends old and new right there in the parking lot. I didn’t think to ask them if they want to join the Winter Holiday Club. But I think I will. How about you? I’d love to hear YOUR WINTER HOLIDAY reports! See you at the next meeting, but in the meantime, get started memorizing those theme song lyrics!

Don’t Say, Just Cool

One of travel’s most lasting gifts  is the permission it gives us  to depart from our accustomed  routines. In our daily lives we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of not  doing laundry or not driving the carpool or  not having the tires rotated.  And no matter how much we may love the people who benefit from our daily chores, these jobs take time and energy. Consistency and routine are important to the ordered life, but in my mind, order needs to be balanced out from time to time with a little adventure.

In my household my long suffering husband does the majority of the  quotidian chores: mowing the grass ( I’m allergic), paying the bills ( I may not remember), checking the swimming pool water ( I don’t like science), and taking care of the vehicles.( It wouldn’t occur to me, except to put in gas.) He keeps himself so busy that I have to go look for him if I want talk to him about something, and usually find him diligently performing some thankless task. And right after that he will have another very important task which must be done only by him.

Of course I  have my own designated  chores such as cooking, gardening, organizing, and supervising. Supervising takes lots of time. But by now we’ve worked out who is the most natural person say, to dust. Don’t ask my husband to do that unless we find out the President will arrive  at our home in thirty minutes, and even then he’ll try to convince  me that if he  were to strategically arrange our coffee table books, no one will notice the fur growing on top of the furniture.

With our various responsibilities we often spend the bulk of the weekend days completing our tasks alone, There never seems to be enough time set aside for the “we” of us, for the couple. That is why I so savor our vacations as well as  the memories of them. It’s nice to set aside the time for ourselves, and  even nicer to reflect on how we spent our time together after we’re back and again caught up in the demands of the real world.

I have shared some of our  June 2012 Vancouver pictures here in previous posts, and today we’ll see pictures of two more play days there. The first play day is the Sea to Sky train, and the second is bicycling Stanley Park.

Neither of us had been to Vancouver before, so whatever we did there was a first for us. When reading about activities we had to choose among the many “must do” recommendations to try to see what seemed the most important to us. We both agreed we could not miss the train ride from Vancouver to Whistler.

If you go to Vancouver, know that the railroad offers various trips, but we only had time for the up and back day trip.  The ticket price includes a bus ride to the terminal. We had read that the railroad workers were on strike, but the only sign of that was a group of picketers we passed on our way in. We  were welcomed cordially onto the train as a kilted man played the bagpipes in the railroad yard.

All aboard!

Once in transit, a festive atmosphere ensued as the passengers tried to eat the ice cold, brickbat  Indian bread called bannock which was included in the breakfast.  A German tour group was in our car, and though I don’t know the language,  facial expressions are the same in any language.   For  the next three and a  half hours  the train chugged  in a leisurely fashion  up the mountains to Whistler.  Guides let the passengers know when good photo opportunities were  approaching. We were free to then rush into the observation car, wrapped in blankets they provided, to crowd up to the edge of the  open car for a photo. Adults and energetic children made their way up and down the aisles to be on time for some beautiful view we were about to pass. Others followed, because they didn’t want to miss anything.

Something very beautiful is on the other side of this window.

Now. The route is gorgeous, offering stunning views of the Howe Sound, the Cheakamus River and the general environs.  The train is  clean and well appointed also, and in the United States we don’t get to ride on too many luxurious trains. Plus we love to ride trains. So for us it was a win all around, except that it was hard to get good pictures from the moving train. Now you will know why I took so many pictures of the side of the train!

We were dropped at our destination with instructions as to what time to be back for the return trip. Whistler is a ski town, but we weren’t planning to ski, and it was too cold to do the other fun outdoor activities they had to offer. After our boxed breakfast, lunch was our first priority. Then, fueled by a good lunch and draft beer, we tended to the second issue: I was freezing to death.

My husband had worn  a heavy sweater but I had only a thin shirt and thinner sweater. All morning in the observation car the wind had pierced through cracks in my blanket armor. I was not going to go back through three more hours of that. I have to have the right equipment when I travel. I just do. Luckily the Whistler ski shops had all manner of cold weather accoutrements available to wear in June. We fitted ourselves out proudly  with Whistler hoodies to erase all doubt as whether we were tourists. I can assure you I do not spend many afternoons with my spouse  inside retail stores, so this was a real treat.

The return three and a half hours was much more subdued. I didn’t see many people in the observation cars. Some folks were snoozing. I wanted to sleep too, but four older ladies behind me who each occupied  an entire seat of her own, carried on a loud, uninhibited conversation about new grandchildren. So we snuggled, bundled in our sweatshirts, full, warm, and grateful, and eavesdropped for all we were worth.

I loved this purple plant growing on the rocks.

See how much warmer I am in my hoodie?

The next day was the day for Stanley Park. For various reasons it had previously  never worked out for us to rent bikes and ride when we have traveled,  but this  day we scored! Stanley Park  was just a short but brisk walk from out hotel. Renting bikes was easy at one of the many bike rental stores that surround the park. After I finally mastered the art of getting on the bike, a skill only acquired after I jumped on it the wrong way and fell on my tailbone in front of a group of people, we rode all through the park – in the woods, up hills, down hills,  on the seawall, around the marinas. For long stretches we could ride as fast as we wanted, just as I remember doing as a child,  with  the sun and wind on our faces.

About halfway through the park, we found the Stanley Park Teahouse, where we ate the hearty lunch we deserved after all our exertions. We deserved a beer as well.  I would have loved to eat dinner there because the Teahouse location, an officer’s mess during World War II,  has been voted the best sunset in Vancouver. Maybe next time!

We got to the edge of the park and went down a street to see if there was anything else we had missed. And what did we find?  The Lawn Bowling Club! I saw a sign that said “Open to the Public” so we wheeled right on in. A game was in progress. I don’t know lawn bowling etiquette, but we thought total silence on our part was the most respectful stance. Doesn’t this look like fun?

Alas, no one asked us to play. Probably I didn’t have on the right shoes anyway. I didn’t want to call a lot of attention to myself, but I had to get a few pictures of this cuteness. Somehow the combination of the pristine British expat- seeming lawn, the adorable elderly bowlers, the lush gardens, and the ships in the harbor in the background just thrilled me to pieces. I might need to retire here and join the Club.

Can you see the ships in the harbor across the street?

I did a double take when I saw this bed; it looks almost exactly like my back flower bed at home.

After returning the bicycles, we trudged back up the hill we had merrily hopped down earlier that morning  on our way to the park. Tired but happy, we saw just the sign that expressed everything  we felt:

You said it, honey!

That’s right. Don’t say, just cool! Just have an adventure together!  Whether close to home or far from home, it matters not. At the end of the day you will have new memories and stories to enjoy forever.

To The Mountaintop

Sigh. We in the South are dripping with pervasive, intractable humidity. It is hard for me not to assign human traits and motives to the sticky miasma that surrounds me. Could the humidity actually be pernicious? To delight in seeing me sweat down my entire head of hair within fifteen seconds of opening the front door? I will leave those decisions to another day, because it is  too hot to even try to think. Also, I am about to flee this place for the mountains of North Carolina, where at least if there is humidity or rain during the day , I shall be blessed with a breeze by nightfall.

My refuge is a cabin atop a mountain, where some of the time I will lack cell phone service and most certainly  the internet. I welcome the rejuvenation that comes from disconnecting from technology, but want my small readership to know I won’t be posting anything until I return to this broiler… I mean town.

This same time last year my husband and I tried this exact  thing – meaning a getaway to the mountains to disconnect from technology and relax. It was a last minute trip we put  to gether after a summer filled with the wedding activities of two of our children. Naturally since weddings had occurred we were on a limited budget, but that was of little import, I thought, for we didn’t need anything fancy. After a little perusing on the internet, I  booked us a spot in a secluded cabin on a mountaintop in a location that did not require too far a drive away from home. The pictures showed a cozy getaway for two, with mountain vistas.

Our getaway was operated by a sweet couple who brought us their own eggs, honey, and freshly baked bread each morning. 

And it was remote, all right. We had to park our car and use one of their four wheel drive vehicles while on the property. And whenever we wanted, we had the private use of their wood fired hot tub and Finnish sauna once we could locate it on the property.

Yes, that is me after a strenuous hike. The hike where I failed to make it up the steep two mile trail that was going to lead me to the flat part of the Appalachian Trail.

The getaway was private all right. We sat out on the deck at night until the sun went down, enjoying the peace and quiet.

On the rise above us, up a gravel road, was a Buddhist Temple, where visitors were welcome. 

There was just one question that puzzled us. How had anyone managed to get a mobile  home up to the top of  this mountain? For yes, my friends, our remote, quiet, quaint retreat for two was a mobile home. Disguised, of course, by having a deck added and the roof raised, but a mobile home nonetheless. Never, never, in a million years had I ever contemplated spending my vacation in such an accommodation. Well I had been the one to say I didn’t need anything fancy!

Regardless of the rusticity of the surroundings, fond memories were made there. But this year I am trying again to have a mountain getaway. I think I know now how to scan rental pictures to determine if a “cabin” is merely a disguised mobile home. Also, my getaway this year is with my sister, so we don’t need luxury or romance. I did the luxury and romance thing earlier this summer in Vancouver, So wish me luck, and envision me on a mountaintop deck, relaxing in an authentic log cabin, not a prefab home!