Monday, February 1, 2016

Downtown into Outer Space!

Well, total weekend relaxation didn't quite happen after all, especially Saturday, when suddenly my day became full of wonderful hours, including outdoors and walking around downtown in sunshine and warm temperatures - so different from the previous weekend of snow and ice. We headed into town after reading in the newspaper there were exciting things happening at the Museum of Natural Sciences, namely, Astronomy Days, and it would be a chance to meet a real astronaut! We were ready and out the door for this one. . . . . .along with everyone else and their children from a 50 mile radius most likely. It was all fun.

Just a small part of huge crowds out enjoying perfect weather on Saturday - the line inside this museum was long for the presentation we went to hear - given by the amazing Christina Hammock Koch, one of NASA's newest astronauts. A North Carolina woman, and graduate of NC State University, she is one of just eight most recent trainees - apparently picked from a field of 6,372 applicants! We were absolutely blown away by Christina's hour long presentation, and all she has accomplished. Just learning what the training consists of was an eye-opener - such as piloting the T-8 Supersonic jet plane, learning the Russian language, swimming dressed in complete astronaut gear, and so much more. Because she also spent a year stationed at Palmer Station in Antarctica (which I viewed briefly from the deck of the expedition ship I sailed on in 2013), her stay included an over-Winter where temperatures dropped to -150F (-101C), I was also captivated by stories of her time there, and viewing her videos and slides. Christina's dream now is to be part of the Mars landing planned for the 2030's!

Leaving the museum complex, and yes we do have wonderful museums here, and we should come visit them more often, we headed through town, stopping here (below) to get a few photos of a favorite house nestled in between the huge modern buildings of the State Government complex.

The Heck-Andrews House ~ Built in 1869
Second Empire Style

Needless to say there are many stories and published articles on this historic
 downtown property. This is a favorite recent one of great interest as it shares 
 fabulous interior photos which until now we never were able to view.
 Click here for the story > HECK-ANDREWS House

Owned by the State for the past 30 years, the exterior was restored at a huge cost, 
however, they put the property up for sale not wishing to spend more public money. 
The house apparently sold last week and the new owners will now, hopefully, 
complete the massive job of interior restoration. 
This is a beauty too special to lose to a wrecking ball.

Speaking of houses. . . . . .  .another stop was a favorite garden center located at the old train station downtown - loved the birdhouses, and I need a new one! Already a great display of beautiful pottery - these brilliant blue ones are gorgeous. Gardening is still a favorite hobby but unfortunately getting more difficult with my back problem. Filling lovely pots raised on a table is much easier than getting down and digging in the dirt - know what I mean?

Last but not least by any means - there were plenty of very pretty blooming
 Spring flowers on offer. We are in for a run of Spring-like days here - temps. 
reaching 71F today. Hello and welcome to February.

~~~~~~~~~~oh, and as for Sunday, I did relax a bit by staying away from the laptop - cooking, going through family photos, and later watching some TV, including that really surprising episode of Downton Abbey!  Anyone watching Mercy Street? If so what are your thoughts on that show. We're finding it interesting from a historical point of view, but rather gruesome seeing how archaic medical facilities and treatment options were during the American Civil War.


  1. The astrology display and talk by the young astronaut would be so interesting. A lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I love the cobalt blue flower pots and think your idea of gardening in pots is a good one. I made a snowman yesterday and my back and shoulders are feeling it today! The spring blooms are beautiful! Happy February to you Mary. Enjoy the warm days.

  2. I wonder if they'd let me move into the Heck-Andrews house? (grin) It is one gorgeous home. I love the colors, the architecture. And, to have heard an astronaut speak.. well, your weekend was dang near perfect.

  3. How interesting Mary and right on your doorstep.
    I just love each and every one of those beautiful houses .... I need to see inside !!
    .... and, many thanks for your lovely birthday wishes ..... it means a lot. XXXX

    1. Jackie, if you click on the house name you can see the interiors - it's quite beautiful what is remaining, especially the walls and columns!

      Mary -

  4. I have Mercy on dvr but haven't watched it yet. Looks like a good day.

  5. What a fascinating visit to the museum. This astronaut sounds very inspirational.
    Oh love the blue pots at the nursery. The historic house, I am so glad someone has purchased it to finish the work needed on it. What a fun weekend. Ours was full of one little boy and yes, we were off to the museum with him.

  6. Your day out on the town resulted in some great photos, Mary. Love the springtime look in the air with all the people lounging about outside the museum. The astronaut talk would have been very interesting. I'm currently reading a book by our Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, and as you've mentioned, the training is rigorous and wide.
    The Heck house looks like someplace I'd love to live. If I can't have Downton Abbey, I'll settle for this one!

  7. What a gorgeous day! I'm glad you enjoyed your outing. Love the bird house selections. If we didn't have such pesky squirrels that destroy every thing that isn't made of concrete or stone, I'd love to add one of these to our garden. Love the pretty architectural lines.

  8. I love Logan's! I need to go back. Loved the photos!

  9. Your town is filled with so many wonderful places Mary. We went to our local art museum this Sunday for the first time. It was very nice.

  10. Waht a lovely day away from home and the laptop, to boot! You've got to love that sunshine and that amazing presentation! Wow, I could never have been an astronaut--couldn't even master a child's level French are TEN years of taking it! That woman is incredible. What an amazing journey to get where she is now. She would be perfect for a Mars trip! yikes.

    BTw, I had to chuckle as you wrote you mentioned the museum was hosting "ASTROLOGY Days!" I was thinking, "a science museum no less?!..Well, maybe they do that in the Carolinas, I don't know!" LOL. then I realised it was a simple typo. Too too funny, dear Mary!

    That house (With the photos and details in the link as well) STILL looks incredible, even if there's a huge and no doubt expensive undertaking of renovation inside. I am always amazed at the attention to details people put in architecture with such rudimentary tools centuries ago.

    Ahh...yes the labours of gardening. Pots are always a good idea and for us, our only option when having a front patio and no garden per se. I so can't wait to see fresh flowers again.

    hope you enjoyed your time off. It looks like you most certainly did!

  11. A very interesting weekend. I enjoyed looking at your photos, it looks like a lovely town. Off to look more at the Heck Andrews House now, it is a gorgeous building.

    1. Lovely to have you stop by Tracey - anyone living in the English countryside is welcome here because I miss it so much and love to hear stories/see photos of gardens and scenery.
      I'll be stopping at your cottage (via your blog) for more inspiration as Winter fades and Spring arrives - I need to view some primroses as we don't have them here!
      Mary -

  12. We have been to that museum before and it was wonderful. I bet the program was excellent. Love the historic house.
    Yes I wasn't expecting downton to be so.... Gory.


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