Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Historical garden

Blooming history

Our trip to Virginia for a wedding included a morning visit to Colonial Williamsburg. In a walk through the historical area, a lush flower and vegetable garden lured us in for a closer look.

The relatively small area was the Colonial Nursery, an interpretive and sales site that featured 18th-century garden plantings, botanical histories, historically accurate plants and practices. For sale were reproduction gardening tools and seeds for plants that would have been found in a cross section of 18th century colonial gardens.

Caught reading
One of the volunteers plied me with information, including the observation that she would like to have a gardener working in her garden the same work week of the gifted gardening expert working in the nursery eight hours a day, five days a week.
Wesley Greene and Don McKelvey, garden historians (Photo from Colonial Williamsburg history here)
The nursery is the first historical garden I have ever visited. I look forward to more.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Colonoscopy time

Linda in lovely pre-op attire
Tuesday, June 8, I finally had the colonoscopy that had been previously scheduled for June 2011. My April 11, 2011, hemorrhagic stroke canceled that and any other appointments for more than a month.

But early last Tuesday Husband Walter and I walked out of the waiting room, following the nurse who would be in charge of the pre-op routine for my colonoscopy.

Pooh--colonoscopy mascot?
“Your bed is right over here,” Nurse Pam said. 

The cartoon characters adorning the wall startled me. “Winnie the POOH and friends. That’s appropriate,” I blurted. After the prep I had endured the day and night before, my emphasis on “Pooh” was definitely warranted.

Pooh and pals

Winnie the Pooh and friends frolicked at my bedside. Then I was out. The next thing I knew Hubby was leaning over me in recovery, assuring me that all was well with my gastro plumbing.

All wasn’t okay, though. My next conscious action was an attempt to clear my throat. Swallowing, hacking, coughing—all futile; all causing throat pain. Attempting to talk hurt and my voice was almost non-existent.

I had gone in that morning fine. I woke up with unusually copious sinus drainage and a sore aching throat. I was sure someone had crammed hoses down my throat after I was “relaxed,” medical speak for knocked out. But no, the anesthesia had been administered via the IV.

I spent several days limiting myself to liquids and soft foods, starting a round of antibiotics and decongestants, and limiting contact with most of humankind. Friday, however, I abandoned caution and returned to eating salad and Hubby’s homemade pizza. It was an almost pain-free gustatory delight. I’m on the way back!

And hats off to my personal Pizza Man!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Turtle time

"Hello!" (Photo by Walter Skupien)
Husband Walter discovered this not-quite-grown box turtle in our yard recently. It was about three and a half inches long, a lot smaller than a couple other turtles sharing our address.

Resident box turtle (Photo by Walter Skupien)
Hubby thought the youngster might be offspring of two turtles doing a turtle tango outside our kitchen window one spring morning in late April.
Spring romance (Photo by Walter Skupien)

A Georgia Museum of Natural History article on box turtle natural history here said that mating can occur anytime between March and November. Mom usually lays 4-5 eggs in a flask-shaped nest in a sandy or loamy location that is open and elevated.

The article also said that eggs hatch in about 70-80 days, usually September through October. The hatchlings may overwinter in the nest.

Those facts eliminate the theory that Junior was the result of the amorous turtles’ 2014 spring fling. He still could be their offspring from an earlier season.

Junior: “Ewwww. I’m out of here!” (Photo by Walter Skupien)

What we do know for sure is that Junior is a survivor. Hatchlings are usually 1 inch to 1.3 inches long, just the size to make a tasty snack for raccoons, snakes and all sorts of other predators that have adapted to small-town living in our neighborhood.

And, according to the museum’s Internet article, it will be 5 to 10 years before Junior becomes interested in reptilian romance.

Best wishes on continued survival, Junior. 

Thank you to Husband Walter for photos.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Leisurely travel . . . to the extreme

Husband Walter and I left our Georgia tribe Sunday morning, June 1. We would meet up with them again in Hampton, Virginia, for niece Becky’s and fiance Josh's wedding and festivities.

We had allowed extra days for a leisurely drive to Hampton and some sightseeing on the way. The next morning we departed our east Ashville motel for an entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway about a mile away.

By mid-afternoon the realization struck that we were only 60 miles from Ashville, our starting point. At an average 10 miles per hour, we set a new record low—or make that a record slow—for our personal travels.

Our first stop
But I did enjoy the chance to take a few photos of spring flowers and mountain scenery that our slow pace offered. And I especiaaly savored our first stop for the day, the Folk Art Center. The center features exhibitions, library and craft shop, all focused on fine crafts handmade in the Southern Appalachians.

On a stop there several years ago, I was awed by a quilt exhibit. From intricate traditional patterns to modern fabric “paintings,” I felt I was in the presence of masterpieces. 

On this visit one of the exhibitions was the work of recent graduates from a regional community college’s professional crafts department. Wood, metal, fabric, clay and other materials were the media for furniture, sculpture, pottery, screens, jewelry and more. The unique creations were beautifully presented.

The urge was strong to document what I saw with photos. I opted, however, simply to enjoy and to work on keeping my ever-precarious balance. I definitely did not want to be remembered as that stroke survivor who crashed the exhibit—literally, and ruined someone’s labor of love.

Hubby posted photos of the spacious facility here. I, however, spent my time in the exhibit space and craft shop. I couldn't resist buying a tiny wooden bride and groom. They were just two among a variety of “sunfolk,” Christmas ornaments handcrafted from wood, painted and dressed in tiny fabric apparel.

I love Christmas ornaments. but my official excuse was to have a “happy” for our real-life prospective bride and groom, Becky and Josh.

Mountain laurel on the grounds of the Folk Art Center

A bee’s eye view of a single laurel blossom.

We usually see rosebay (white) rhododendron on our treks to the Smoky Mountains and other areas of the Appalachians. But on this drive the Catawba (purple) rhododendron was putting on a show. 

The purple-pink blooms looked like the color and structure of the Formosa azaleas of our region.  Our azaleas cover the entire shrub but are single blooms. 

In contrast, the rhododendron blooms are a display in pom pom balls of clusters made up of multiple blooms.

A single Catawba rhododendron bloom

Catawba rhododendron blooms offer spheres of botanical color.

Plus we saw a bear. That always spices up my day. And even better, he was not eating people food. He was lounging on the side of the road scarfing down some type of large-leafed green plant. It was much healthier for him than the scavenged pizza and other people food that I have seen bears eating in previous mountain trips.

View from parking for trail to Mt. Mitchell summit.

One of our final stops before making our way to the interstate was a parking area at the entrance for the trail to the Mt. Mitchell peak and observation tower. We were at 6,578 feet elevation at the edge of the parking lot. The western mountains of our nation are spectacular, but I love the spring and summer green of these older mountains.

In 2006, prior to my 2011 stroke, we had hiked to the top of Mt. Mitchell, at 6684 feet, the highest peak east of the Mississippi.

It was cold in the parking lot, just as it was on our 2006 visit. And I remembered how much colder it had been at the peak. I was content to take a few photos and climb back into our cozy van. 
Three minutes after the first image from the parking lot, clouds move in over distant peaks.

Hubby’s post on the day’s jaunt is here.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thumbs up on this free Kindle book

The Gauguin Connection by Estelle Ryan is free for Kindle today on Amazon.com but I don’t know when that offer ends. I read the novel early this year.

The protagonist Genevieve Lenard is autistic and high-functioning. I enjoyed the suspense as the heroine struggles to work with others. The stakes are high--to end the string of murders of rising young artists and to uncover the mastermind.

My 2/13/2014 review is here.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Secondhand memories

Granddaughter Molly Kate awaits the cue for an opening number appearance. (Photo by Katie Skupien)
I missed granddaughter Molly Kate’s “Alice in Wonderland” dance recital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this May.

A Molly Kate hug for Alice in the opening number (Photo by Jeremy Skupien)
In addition to MK’s involvement, Mom Katie, a dance instructor and alum of the same studio, choreographed the group dances for the class she teaches and for the big opening production. It was the first time the studio owner had passed the opening number choreography to one of her instructors.

The dance saga of Alice begins. (Photo by Jeremy Skupien)

Alice (Photo by Jeremy Skupien)

Granddaughter Molly Kate, the “daisy” with glasses, performs with fellow dancing posies (Photo by Jeremy Skupien)
The photos by Katie and our son Jeremy--proud papa and husband, are relieving my disappointment a bit. And there is the anticipation of the dance studio’s video that will be available in August.

I also enjoy the glimpse of the solo performances via Jeremy's photos. Although not her choreogaphy, these soloists were Katie's students.

Mad Hatter (Photo by Jeremy Skupien)

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 Cheshire Cat (Photo by Jeremy Skupien)
Both our daughters-in-law are talented dancers and their daughters are following in their footsteps.

We did manage to attend our two Georgia granddaughters’ recitals on our way to a wedding in Virginia. Photos and video were not allowed, but I do have Technicolor memories. 

Maybe next year I will have even more firsthand memories of performances involving the contributions of all our dancers, both growing and grown.