Friday, June 28, 2013

Fridays Are Golden

I'm always surprised to find another month almost gone.  I'm retired and have no idea where my time goes.  OK, it goes to reading, knitting, and playing with dogs.  And a bit of house cleaning, cooking, and laundry.  Regardless, 2013 is simply flying by.
You know that Lucy almost always "shares" a bed with Ellie.
Sometimes she uses Ellie for a body pillow

Other times for her head

But I really don't understand why she does the same thing on the floor.
We have LOTS of floor space in the great room and the dogs tend to lie on the hardwood in warm weather.  You would think they would not want to lie together, but Lucy invariably finds Ellie.

Here in NC, people are still gathering at the General Assembly to protest the terrible legislation that our Congress is enacting.  All of it seems designed to take power away from the cities or to disenfranchise women and the poor.

So every week, Mondays are declared "Moral Monday" and people gather to peacefully and legally protest.  Hundreds of them have been arrested by Raleigh's finest.  Members of the clergy, business leaders, local commissioners, school board members and concerned citizens are arrested.  Last Monday a 79-year-old Asheville man and his 77-year-old wife had plastic handcuffs snapped on their wrists and they were hauled to the police station with others.  And what is their crime?  Simply that they refuse to disperse when the police order them to do so.  They are doing nothing illegal.  They are in a public place and have every right to be there.  (Reminds one of Madison, WI, doesn't it?)  I applaud these people.  I hope the gatherings increase in number every week and especially I hope their message is heard.  I thank them for what they are doing.  I might even take the journey myself.

There are so many people still suffering on our planet.  It is our duty to help them as much as we can.  So give of your time or your money.  Do whatever you can to help your neighbors.

As Kahil Gibran said,

"There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward."

So give whatever you can and give it with joy.


Monday, June 24, 2013

His Choice

Last Monday I shared photographs of the vase I chose during our recent visit to Leftwich Pottery Open House.  It is only fitting that I also share the one my husband selected.
He chose a deep blue with bear cubs on it.  The piece is also done in the Wedgewood style with layers and layers of glaze.  There are four little cubs racing around the vase.
Simple in appearance but difficult in process

We both love this piece

We have an eclectic collection of art and pottery.  It would not fit into any decorator's theme.  And there's a simple reason for that.  We buy what we like, pieces that make us smile or move us for some reason.  And we have never regretted a single purchase.

Our artwork has meaning to us and gives us pleasure as we look at the various pieces around the house.  And isn't that what art is supposed to do?

If you didn't do so last week, click here to learn more about Rodney Leftwich.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fridays Are Golden

Today is Ellie's birthday!  There were many years in which I looked forward to her birthdays.  (Golden Retrievers have a long adolescence.)  Now that she is ten, I dread each passing birthday.  Ellie has been a treat since we brought her home.
Our first dog, an English Springer Spaniel was my heart dog.  I never expected to have another one and my heart was broken when she died at age sixteen.  I did not want another dog.  Ever.  But my wise husband knew better and we got another Springer Spaniel, Penny Lane.  I loved Penny and she was a wonderful dog, but she never quite became my heart dog.  But she was my husband's heart dog.  After Penny died at age fifteen, we decided to look at breeds other than Springers.  We read a lot about various breeds and decided that a Golden Retriever would fit perfectly into our lives.
We did our research and found Dichi Goldens.  (You can look at their great Web site here.)  We filled out volumes of paperwork, then went in for an interview.  And we passed!  We were put on a wait list for a little female.  And on June 21, 2003 Ellie's mother Star gave birth to a litter mostly male but with three females.  And one of those became our Ellie.  We named her Dichi Sirius Eleanor Rose.  Dichi must always be the first name to acknowledge the breeder, Sirius which is the Dog Star was in honor of her birth mother and Eleanor Rose in honor of Eleanor Roosevelt, one of my favorite women.
Few things are cuter than puppies.
And few (if any) puppies are cuter than Golden puppies like little Ellie.

Ellie left her brothers behind.
As you can see, every one of them is perfect and gorgeous.
Click to enlarge and find all six brothers.

Ellie loved her stuffies and carried this little yellow duck everywhere she went
...until she found out about seams and how to destroy them.

She loved the Wisconsin winters.

With no more stuffies around, Ellie carries tennis balls.

And so I am one of those very lucky people to find a second heart dog.  Ellie knows me, comforts me, and I love her deeply.  Don't misunderstand...I love our Lucy.  But I love Ellie in a very special way.  I feel so fortunate to have had one more heart dog.  I do not expect to find another.

The author of the following quote is unknown:

"Your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."

Happy birthday, dear Ellie.  I hope I can be worthy.


Monday, June 17, 2013

New Art

We love to surround ourselves with North Carolina pottery.  And one of our favorite potters is Rodney Leftwich.  He is a wonderful man and skilled artisan.  You can find more about him here.
He is a member of the prestigious Southern Highland Craft Guild and his work is displayed and sold at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville.  He and his wife also display at various art shows.  Twice a year the Leftwich's open their studio for sales.
Rodney's talent is very diverse and each piece is unique.  During our last visit I found this vase and fell in love with it.  The cornstalks are not painted on.  Rather, this piece used crystalline glaze with a cameo technique (much like Wedgewood).  I love the rich earth tones.

I continue to be amazed at the tremendous skill and talent of the artisans who live among us.  We are fortunate indeed.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fridays Are Golden

Lucy does not play well with other dogs.  She is not agressive or shy; she simply doesn't seem to know how to interact in the dog world.  We frequently took both dogs to a wonderful dog park near our house in WI.  Ellie would make friends immediately and play and play with all sorts of other dogs.  Lucy would tag along after Ellie for a while and then simply go looking for owners  who would give her pats and praise.  Even in puppy kindergarten during "mingle" time, Lucy ignored the other puppies and went from one owner to another.
Perhaps because of this, Lucy can amuse herself for very long periods of time.  If Ellie cannot be coaxed to play, Lucy will play by herself.
I think I'll get the blue tug.

I can race myself around the room.
Do you have a stopwatch Dad?

I can flip the tug over my neck!

Isn't that cool?


There was a time we bemoaned the fact that our NC General Assembly was a do-nothing group.  Well, be careful what you wish for.  We now have the most active Senators and Representatives you can imagine.  They meet late into the night.  They have passed many laws during this session, almost all of them negatively affecting the poor and the environment.  But giving to the rich and big business, eliminating taxes for them.  Their argument is that eliminating corporate taxes will bring in more companies.  (In reality, it is more likely repayment to the folks who purchased their seats.)  And they fail to tell us how that lost revenue will be recouped, other than cuts in programs already scaled back to the bare bones.

We now have "Moral Mondays" in which people gather outside the General Assembly to protest the cuts in programs for the poor.  Every Monday concerned citizens gather;  members of the clergy, school teachers, volunteers in service to mothers and children and other citizens who are not pleased that the State government is taking from the poor during a time when they are already most vulnerable.  And every Monday people are arrested, including preachers, priests, nuns, nurses and even a reporter who was there only to report the event.  And still they gather to make their voices heard.

Today's appropriate quote comes from American author and essayist Edward Abbey:

"A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government."


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Forceful Falls

You saw this waterfall if you watched the movie "Hunger Games."  But you likely did not see this much water running down the rocks.  Our county is about sixteen inches above average for rainfall so far this year and the rivers are running high.
High Falls

High Falls is one of the many waterfalls in DuPont State Forest where most of the action scenes in "Hunger Games" were filmed.  The village scenes were also filmed in North Carolina, in Burke County at an abandoned textile mill town of Henry River Mill Village.  Needless to say, both towns have profited by the movie's popularity.

Triple Falls

Triple Falls is a short hike below High Falls.  The heavy rains have made it even stronger.

By contrast, this a photgraph of Triple Falls in its more normal or slightly reduced flow.

You can pay a hefty fee to an entrepreneurial company whose guides will take you through the otherwise free State Forest trails.  They will point out places where major scenes were filmed.  Those of us who live here try to act like tourists to avoid the inevitable questions the tourists ask about the movie.  Heck, I haven't even seen the movie.

I read the first book in the trilogy and I really enjoyed it, reading it almost straight through with few stops.  But I have little interest in reading the other books in the trilogy.  I thought the premise was fascinating with a gripping story.  But beyond the novelty of that, I have no interest in the other stories.  I might actually be missing some good reads.  Let me know if you read all three.

Monday, June 10, 2013

And So It Pours

Our part of NC did not see any effect from Andrea, but another front has decided to linger and pelt us with more rain that we need.  I wouldn't mind so much, but the last of our strawberries are lying in fields too wet to harvest.  Bummer!
It rained on and off all weekend and this morning is damp and foggy.  The sun came out for a few minutes yesterday and I ran out to take a picture of some Mountain Laurel.  We have it all over our woods and it is spectacular this year.  Alas, I took only two pictures and the sun disappeared and the rain started again.  Fortunately we have a screened porch and we can look out into the woods to see the laurel even in the rain.
This tall, skinny Mountain Laurel is in the front yard.

Here's a closer look at the bird sitting beneath the laurel.

We continue to have flash flood warnings with occasional rockslides and fallen trees.  We have a 60% chance of more rain today, then the odds drop to 30% for the rest of the week.

On a positive note; everything is lush and green and we definitely don't have to water anything, not even the herbs on the deck.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fridays Are Golden

The earth around here has just about as much water as she can hold.  More than enough in many places where flash flooding has washed out roads and bridges.  And we are expecting more.  Today is quite warm and gives new definition to "muggy."  Guess we'll stay indoors and be thankful we have air conditioning.
I had a regular doctor's appointment yesterday morning.  The office called earlier this week to remind me and also to tell me to be sure to come at least 15 minutes early to meet with the nurse.  So I dutifully arrived 20 minutes early.  I signed in, started reading, and waited.  (Reminder to self:  sync your Kindle before you go if you aren't sure there is Internet connection available to you.)  So I read and waited.  Ten minutes AFTER my appointment time the nurse called me back.  I have no idea how she got so far behind since my appointment was at 8:30.
My doctor was pleasant enough, as always.  He asked if things were going all right and then asked about my allergies.  I told him they were pretty bad this year, like almost everyone else.  Then he started telling me how bad HIS allergies had been this spring.  And he went on and on.  Thankfully I have no real medical problems so I suppose it was fine if he needed an ear.  But it was rather strange.  When I got back home my husband asked me how my visit went.  I told him my blood pressure was fine, my pulse oximetry reading was 100% but the doctor's allergies were terrible.  We had a good laugh.
The Golden Girls do not like this weather at all.  They do not like rain and they especially do not like muggy weather.  So they are happy to do what they need to do and come right back inside.
Ellie sits in front of my chair.  She seems to have deep thoughts.

Lucy sprawls beside my husband's chair.

She's never had a deep thought in her life.
Your point being???

There is so much trouble in our world.  So many people are truly suffering and we need to think less about our minor complaints and more about being grateful.

Novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder provides this week's quote:

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."

So think of the treasures you have and hold them dear.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Favorite Statue

Exquisite statues abound at the Biltmore Estate.  Some are within the house, others in the gardens.  My favorite statue stands alone on a hill overlooking the estate.  It is the statue of Diana, goddess of the hunt.
Diana is the twin of Apollo and prefers to live in the high mountains and in sacred woods.  What better place for her than the Biltmore Estate?
The beautiful Diana

Her trusty hunting dog beside her, she watches over the Estate

Only a few years ago, Diana wasn't often seen by the public.  She stands atop a rather steep hill and there are no gardens or other statues nearby.  With the increasing popularity of the Biltmore Estate for weddings, a luxurious tent on a permanent brick foundation has been erected behind the statue.  It is large enough to host 500 guests for weddings and sit-down dinners, even more for "simple" receptions.  It is indeed a wonderful place but I rather dislike the intrusive tent.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Teaching Baby Birds

We are blessed with the opportunity to watch fledglings being fed by their parents and then having to go it on their own.  For the past several days, the Downy Woodpeckers brought their two fledglings to the trees near the suet.  The parent would get suet from the feeder and fly to the baby to feed it.
Getting fed

On Saturday, the mother fed the baby one mouthful and flew back to the suet.  She sat there eating and then flew off into the woods, leaving the baby there on the tree.
I can't believe she left!

I know where the food is.  But it's too far away.

The little downy sat on the limb for several minutes, looking at the suet and then into the woods as if hoping Mom would return.
OK, I'm going now.  One, two, two and a half...two and three quarters...

Finally the little bird flew, grabbing on to the side of the suet feeder.  It sat there a little puzzled and then inched its way to the suet.  (On the opposite side of the feeder, of course.)

We marvel at watching the birds learning to feed themselves.  Some of them are really stubborn and extremely loud when the parents stop feeding them.  I've seen a baby cardinal sit and beg for several minutes.

But as in human parenting, persistence pays off and the little one is launched into another step toward independence.