Friday, November 23, 2012

All Used Up

It seems that I've used my quota of free space from blogger.  And I'm disinclined to purchase more.  So I'll go dark for a while until I decide whether to upgrade or to use another service.

Meanwhile I will continue to read and enjoy your posts.  And I'll let you know when I decide what I want to do.

Our quote for the week comes from Maya Angelou:

"My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept their love in return."

And just a little reminder:  thirty-eight days remain in 2012!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Greatest Virtue

And so the meal is planned and once again we get ready for Thanksgiving Day.  It is one of my favorite holidays.  When I was working, it gave me a long weekend.  That alone was reason to give thanks.

Every year we bring out our tacky turkey to sit upon his throne.
(It's in the eye of the beholder.)

And the First Lady of Pie carries her pie
with the turkey under her arm.

As Cicero said:
"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all our other virtues."

So let us all make our hearts thankful for all the blessings we enjoy.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Fridays Are Golden

Our Ellie follows the rules.  Most of the time.  There is one rule that she simply cannot abide.  You see, she is addicted to tennis balls.  In the den she loves to chase them.  And they are supposed to stay in the den.  But most of all she loves to carry them around.  So several times a day, she will go downstairs and come back up with a tennis ball or two.

She loves to chase them in the den and will constantly beg for you to toss them for her.  But she does not ever want to play with them upstairs.  She just wants to carry them, or lay them in her bed.

Maybe if I don't look at her she won't notice.

But, Mom...I can't help myself.

I love these tennis balls.

Sometimes we immediately toss the balls back downstairs.  Other times Lucy grabs one and trots downstairs  with it.  And since there really is no harm, we sometimes just leave them alone until one of us accidentally kicks one we didn't see, sending it flying across the room.

A typical sight.  Ellie was resting on the bed with her tennis balls.
Lucy decides to share the bed.
This is Lucy's idea of "sharing."

And so we find ourselves in mid-November!  The sun sets far to early in the evening.  Our Thanksgiving Day is this coming Thursday.  As we gather around the table this year, our thoughts will remain with those still suffering.  And we will be even more grateful for our blessings.

Many people are discontented right now.  So many things trouble us and we become frustrated with events over which we have no control.  It is appropriate that we reflect on the words of Marcus Aurelius:

"You have power over your mind---not outside events.  Realize this, and you will find strength."


Monday, November 12, 2012

More From the Top of the Mansion

No matter how often we visit the Biltmore Estate, we always find some details we had not noticed before.  Even places normally hidden from sight contain amazing artwork.

This view of a top-floor wall is not visible from the front of the house,
yet the detailed artwork is just as carefully done.

Most of the statuary include animals with long tails.

This one, however, has a butt crack.
Another bit of proof that the artists had a sense of humor.

Amazing relief containing components from the Coat of Arms of both George Vanderbilt and his wife.

Animal figures are everywhere.

The bronze plaques in detail.
From the ground the details are hardly detectable.

We always stop in the garden, this time to see the mums.

The Christmas at Biltmore decorations are in place and the estate is in full swing for another round of tourists.  We will select a day in mid-week to avoid a bit of the crowds.  And while passholders were encouraged to visit before Thanksgiving, I say "no thanks."  I refuse to relinquish a single day of Thanksgiving to rush the Christmas season.  Time passes fast enough, thank you very much.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fridays Are Golden

Remember the old television show, "That Was The Week That Was"?  The theme song keeps running through my head..."That was the week that was; it's over...let it go."

The week began with non-stop election predictions, rants and raves.  Our phone "blipped" constantly to alert us of callers whom we had blocked trying to reach us again and again to request our votes or to ask us to respond to surveys.  The mute button on the television was in constant use as we avoided the political advertisements.  We anticipated and feared the election results, sitting on the edges of our seats for quite a while on Tuesday night.  Thank goodness we are retired and didn't have to go to work Wednesday morning.

The week brought us miserable weather.  Our temperatures were thirty degrees below our normal highs.  The days were gray, misty and foggy.

And now the election is over and we no longer have to hate the ringing of our own telephone.  I even changed the ring tones so I could forget the nuisance calls.  And the weather is sunny and bright, with temperatures around normal for us.

The Golden Girls don't seem to mind the gray days as long as it doesn't rain.  But they do love the sunshine and seek out sunny spots to snooze during the day.

Ellie soaks up the sun.

Lucy is in full sun with Ellie's tennis ball at her side.

Inevitably they will share a bed.

And just as inevitably Lucy will find a soft pillow.

The  quote for the week is from my favorite First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt:

"I think if the people of this country can be reached with the truth, their judgment will be in favor of the many, as against the privileged few."

Our thoughts remain with those in harm's way.  It seems so unfair for those already suffering to have to face cold and snow and more power outages.  Please do whatever you can to help them.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The People Have Spoken

"Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be."
Sydney J. Harris

Our election is over.  Time for all of us to come together again.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fridays Are Golden

We have had blustery days this week with temperatures far below normal for us.  But we have had bright sunshine and at our elevation we had no snow.
We try taking the dogs to different places at least once every week so they can run free.  This visit was to the Pink Beds in Pisgah National Forest.  As we expected, there was not another person around that day so we broke the law and let the girls off leash.

Our dogs do not jump much.
Ellie was a bit intimidated about jumping over this small log.

Of course, Lucy was delighted to jump.  Several times she ran back and forth to jump the log.

They especially loved the thick bed of leaves and ran and ran.

Finally, they chose to lie down in a grassy area and take a breather.

Ellie followed Lucy's example and decided that she also loved to jump the log.
The two of them looked like children jumping over and over.

We've never had a dog that smiled quite more broadly than Lucy does.

We have watched in horror the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Sandy.  We have cried with those who lost so much and marveled at those who have shown so much courage.  Our thoughts remain with them in days to come.  So many will have very long struggles to overcome this terrible tragedy.

With only a few days left before Election Day we realize how precious our government is, no matter how often we disagree with some of the policies made.  It is our responsibility to elect candidates who share our beliefs and who will lead our country with honor and compassion for the welfare of all citizens.

There are two quotes for this Friday.  The first is from John Quincy Adams who said:

Always vote for principle though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.

And from one of my heroes, Barbara Jordan:

A government is invigorated when each of us is willing to participate in shaping the future of this nation.

And if you have been feeling stressed and think time is passing too fast, I leave you with this frightening fact:
Only fifty-nine days remain in the year 2012.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky Graveyard

When I was a child there were few outdoor Halloween decorations.  They were usually very simple consisting of Jack O'Lanterns, straw bales and scarecrows.  Nowadays there seem to be more elaborate displays, even out in the country.

We drove by a rather modest house with an expansive display of a graveyard.  There were ghosts and witches, skeletons, black cats and the Grim Reaper.  I stopped for a few photographs.

This is less than a fourth of the display area.

Several graves had been desecrated by spirits unknown.
This person definitely did not Rest in Peace as the tombstone says.

A ghostly carriage filled with frightening passengers

I wanted to take more photographs, but could see out of the corner of my eye a man coming out of the house with his little white dog.  He was walking toward the display.  I pretended that I didn't see him and quickly got into the car.  It's not that I am not friendly, but my husband was driving and we had errands to do.  I knew he would not appreciate waiting while the gentleman told me about every single display, where he got them, and how long it took to assemble.  And I just knew that was what he intended to do.  I felt terrible about it, even though I don't think he realized I saw him.

So we drove off without even telling the man how much we enjoyed his hard work.  Perhaps I'll go back out there this afternoon.  And listen impressively.

It's hard to think of celebrating anything when so many of our citizens are suffering.  We offer our thoughts and best wishes, and some money as well.  May their lives soon return to normal as they grieve their losses.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Downtown Festival

Not surprisingly, Transylvania County celebrates Halloween in a big way.  The day begins with the Vampire Run with most participants in costume.  And all day long there are vendors, games, contests, activities and music in downtown Brevard.  We especially enjoy watching the children, most of them in costume.

This guy was moving so fast I didn't catch his full photo but I thought it was a great costume.

Only the bravest would enter the toy store (O.P. Taylor's) underneath this giant spider.

One of many Batman costumes.  He was obviously delighted to pose.

John Deere tractors for tots.  This little guy didn't even ask anyone to hold his binky.

Hunger Games quests abounded.  (Much of the action was filmed in our county.)  This was an archery target as the children tried the Hunger Games survival tactics.

The Great Pumpkin Roll began at the top of Jailhouse Hill.
(Wouldn't they roll better if the stems were removed?)

Despite the many children's activities, this little toddler was content to play with one of the cones.

I couldn't help but wonder how one distinguishes the relevant truths from the non-relevant ones.
I should have attended the services to find out.

I love going to these small-town festivities.  The folks are always so friendly.  It's nice to live a town where  several blocks in the center of town are closed to traffic so the people can party.

Our thoughts go out to those affected by the monster storm that is hitting our eastern coastal areas as well as affecting even more of our country.  Our weather here has turned winter-like overnight with high winds removing the last of the autumn leaves.  Our dogs love it and we don't mind.

Stay safe, everyone.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fridays Are Golden

We have had a perfect week of warm and sunny days with cool nights.  The dogs thrive in this weather and we have made several trips to places where they can run and romp.

They are looking at two fishermen by the lake.

Sprinting after a recall.

Ellie sits for a breather

Lucy is all smiles

This hill is so steep that Lucy is practically crawling

I am on a mission to have a name eliminated from the press.  There is absolutely no need to ever mention, much less quote that vicious witch with the long blond hair.  You know, AC.  The one with the evil vitriolic mouth, the mean-spirited one with the cackling laugh.  She doesn't deserve to share our planet much less be thrust in the spotlight.  So while I am a proponent of free speech, let's not talk about her.  Please.

So Ann evil one...our mailbox flag is perfect for you

Elections are at hand.  And such a political season I have never witnessed.  And I hope never to witness again.  Many citizens are already casting ballots.  I urge you once again to learn as much as you can about every candidate.  Do not be swayed by political advertisements from special interest groups.  Look at each candidate over his/her life; learn what his/her priorities have been, and try to determine who will best represent the interests of all of the people.  As for President...much is at stake as the two candidates and their platforms could hardly be more different.  And keep in mind that some members of the Supreme Court are aging and will likely be replaced within the next four years.  And they are appointed for life.

Research the backgrounds of the local candidates.  And if your state elects justices of your state Supreme Court, do not vote blindly.  These judges will make a huge difference in the way you live your lives, folks.  And while I never recommend a straight-party ticket, if you so vote remember that you must also vote for President.  That office is not included in the straight-party ticket.

It is rare for me to quote such a despicable person...totally evil devoted friend of Adolph Hitler.  But take the words of Joseph Goebbels as a warning:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it...It thus becomes vitally use all powers to repress dissent, for truth is the mortal enemy of the lie.

Our political quote this week comes from essayist H. L. Mencken:
Under democracy one party devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right.

Several comments from my last post wanted to know if we plan to name our new bear.  Yep...we already did.  His name is Barack but we call him Barry.


Keep an eye on the weather and think of those in harm's way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bear on a Truck

We knew we needed a bear.  The real ones occasionally wander by, but we wanted one that would stay with us.  There are tons of bear options here in the mountains.  There are several chainsaw carvers, resin bears, concrete bears and wooden bears.  We didn't know what kind of bear we wanted but were sure we would know it when we saw it.  A new neighbor a couple of blocks away had several beautiful bears.  We asked where they got them.  They gave us the name of the carver.

Last spring we visited the carver near Cashiers.  We stopped and looked at the artist's work and chatted with him about what we wanted.  He assured us that he could make one for us.  In August the carver called to say the bear was carved and drying at his home.  Then he would treat the wood and stain it.

Two weeks ago the carver called to tell us the bear was ready.  He delivered it to our house on a huge truck.

The bear on a truck

We did not get the bear from nearby Uncle Buck (here).  We wanted a brown black bear and wanted a bit more detail in the carving.  So where did our bear come from?

The Bear's Den, of course.

The bear is sitting on a stump.  Both the bear and the stump were carved from a single, very large log.  The heavy piece was moved from the truck to our yard.  And we love him.

I think he likes our yard.

We are pleased with our new bear, visible from several rooms in the house.  He was never intended to look real, but we didn't want a "Disney" bear either.  Isn't it great to commission something and get exactly what you wanted?  We definitely have an eclectic art collection in our yards.  But beauty is still in the eye of the beholder and we think all of our tacky stuff is beautiful.

Monday, October 22, 2012

And Then She Flew

I saw her before the little birds did.  Rapidly she dived from the tree to catch a Titmouse at the birdfeeder.  She missed her target and was unable to pull up before she crashed into the side of our house.  My husband was startled by the loud thud as the hawk (we think it was a female Sharpshinned) hit.  The dogs were very surprised to see a very large bird lying on the deck not a foot from their bed.

We all stared mesmerized by the beauty of this magnificent bird.  I grabbed the camera to catch a few snaps through the window.

This was just before she took flight.

Not quite ready to go but fully alert.

Immediately after the strike.  Note how she is already looking right at us.
(I didn't want to put this photograph first.)

Dazed, she got on her feet right away.

I stood by the window breathlessly waiting to get my first picture of a hawk taking to flight.  Alas, I was distracted for only an instant...the very instant she decided to fly.  Despite missing the photo op, I was nonetheless thrilled to see that this wondrous bird was not seriously injured.  And thankful for the opportunity to see her so close.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fridays Are Golden

Bright sunshine, pouring rain, wind and calm.  That has been our weather this week.  The Golden Girls hate rain.  They don't like walking in it and they especially don't like getting dried off.  So they are not excited about the crazy humans who insist they need to take long walks, rain or no.  Afterward they spend a lot of time in their beds.

Despite the fact that we have two large beds in both the den and the great room, the dogs are almost always sharing the same bed thanks to Lucy.

Lucy starts by taking her half of the bed from the middle.

As she stretches out, Ellie is pushed further and further off the bed.

Finally Ellie's head is under the chair.  Only her hind quarters are on the bed.

You know how sometimes you bring something into the conversation that is totally off subject?  Usually it's because you have seen or heard something interesting and want to share it with your friends.  Well, blogger friends, I just need to show this to you for no reason whatsoever.

We took the architect's tour at the Biltmore Estate.  The tour takes you all the way up the spiral staircase to the observatory room.  And from there it takes you up a wrought iron spiral staircase to the roof.  And then to the highest areas on each side of the house, about eight stories up.  The day was perfect, sunny and mild.  The mountains were clear and you could see forever.  Some had never seen our mountain color and even described the view as a religious experience.

I took several photographs of the beauty and then my attention was caught by the gargoyles up there.  They are smaller gargoyles than the large ones visible from the ground and can barely be seen except for those at the top of the mansion.  And I thought to myself that at least one of the architects had a great sense of humor.  So there I stood, silly me.  Most on the tour were filled with awe looking at the mountains with their impressive Autumn views and I'm laughing at the gargoyles who have exposed boobs.  To my credit, I was laughing silently and did not once point at the boobs.  So while I definitely have not grown up, at least my decorum has improved over the middle school kids.

This was my favorite.

Time is passing by as we approach this very important election.  Early voting began here in NC yesterday.  I'm hoping that we might get a little respite from the constant ugly advertising since we are already voting.  Probably not.

Today's political quote comes form sci-fi author Orson Scott Card:

If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected swineherd every time; no matter how much slaughtering he did on the side.

And this from political comedian Jon Stewart:

You have to remember one thing about the will of the people; it wasn't that long ago we were swept up by the Macarena.

Whatever is going on in your lives, I wish you well.  Enjoy this fall and do something fun every day.  Laugh out loud at least once a day even if you have to struggle to find the humor.