Saturday, September 29, 2018

October's Imminent Arrival ~

Did you know that Country Home - the magazine we all missed 
when discontinued some years back - is being published again?
I recently signed up for a subscription and received my first issue.
I love it for the articles, excellent print quality, beautiful photography
and a minimum of advertising.  

The arrival of October, my favorite month, makes me realize 
this year will soon be rolling to a close. For me there are
special birthdays this month - my own included. The always fun
 North Carolina State Fair starts on the 11th. The last of the outdoor art
 and music festivals will come soon, and it's the last month for our local
neighborhood Farmers' Market on Saturdays.
Nature's glorious colors presented by the trees, of which we have
 plenty right around the cottage, will soon start here. Acorns are already 
falling, pumpkins are arriving, and yesterday I bought my first pot of
 beautiful rust colored chrysanthemums for the urn by the front door.
The wood pile is high and dreams of cozy winter nights by the hearth 
are in my thoughts.  

Are you ready for October?
Is it a favorite month for you too?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Hydrangeas in September, wow!

You may recall my disappointment over no beautiful hydrangea blooms this Summer.  
This was due in part to lousy weather conditions, plus the fact we had to prune
 these two shrubs to the ground last Autumn when re-siding/painting the cottage.
 They did grow back to several feet in height and a Summer season with just
 green leaves was OK - gave the front porch a feeling of coolness on those
 awful hot, dry days. . . . . . . . but how I missed the always lovely blue blooms.

So where did these come from?
Arriving home Tuesday I was amazed to see several gorgeous very blue heads
 being enjoyed by fat bumble bees, and certainly brightening up the fading
 early Autumn garden.
It was almost as if Hurricane Florence left us a gift among the mess of fallen 
branches, twigs, acorns and leaves.

Later I'll probably cut these for a vase then allow them to dry naturally for a
 little muted color over the Winter months. 

Yesterday we spent hours cleaning up the garden, mowing, blowing, pruning, 
weeding, cleaning and refilling birth baths and feeders. It was hot and sticky.
Today I'm off to renew my driver's license - look for some pots of chrysanthemums
for a small Autumn front entry display - and pick up some odds and ends at the
grocery store.
Traveling is always wonderful but coming home again is even better!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Home after sunset. . . . . .

~  Spectacular sunset in Washington State ~ 

I'm home again now. North Carolina welcomed us early this morning 
after the 'red eye' flight from Seattle to Dallas connecting to the 
Raleigh flight. A missed night of real sleep, just those little naps again.
So, turning in early tonight and hopefully my inner clock will get 
straightened out again soon!

With Autumn now officially here I certainly have a lot to catch up with.
A lot of garden work required. . . . . . and I need to start hunting for pumpkins.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

This time two years ago. . . . . .

. . . . . . I was here!

Yesterday, enjoying lovely sunshine in Victoria, British Columbia, I was introduced
 to a lady who is a professional photographer. She was chatting about her 
upcoming first safari trip to South Africa and what camera equipment she might 
require etc. I told her a lot about what to expect and how wonderful it is
to experience close up contact with the wildlife.  

Remembering all those adventures during three exciting safaris,
 reminded me I was there in Kenya at this exact time just two years ago.
I was able to view these animals and birds I photographed, and more. 
Memories are still fresh and will always be here on my blog (hopefully) for me.

Masai Mara, Kenya - September 2016

My blog is my journal - how would I remember all these amazing places
 without being able to look back here and continue to enjoy those trips 
of a lifetime!
Do you ever come back to your blog when you want to recall a 
special occasion, or just want to know where you were or what you
 were doing on a particular day?

Do you consider your blog your journal?

When so many are leaving blogging, do you plan to stay?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

On the way to Western Canada -

Heading northwest is always a pleasure.
This time I had not only the widow seat, but the middle seat and 
the aisle seat! Bob had the same on the other side - a first for us I think.
The 5:30 am flight from Charlotte to Seattle was about half full. After all,
how many other fools were like us wanting to get up and be at the airport 
at such an ungodly hour!  
Neither of us slept really, just those brief 15 minute naps between 
 servings of water, coffee or tea, and more water.
Crossing the Grand Teton National Park.
 Stunning Mt. Rainier - 14,410'
 Arriving over Seattle, Washington - Space Needle just visible on far right.

Driving to Port Angeles, Washington - pleasant overnight with views of
 Hurricane Ridge (Olympic National Park) and a delicious fresh halibut dinner
 overlooking the water.
Early morning 1.5 hour ferry crossing to Victoria, BC, Canada.
Looking back towards Washington State as we arrived in Canada - snow
 on the stunning Olympic Mountains.
The cruise port was busy with several ships arriving and leaving.

Welcome to Victoria - British Columbia Parliament Buildings

Weather has been mixed - cloudy with light showers and then some sunny periods
making it comfortably warm - perfect for walking about and enjoying this lovely city.
This is my third visit here and I've loved it every time.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Meeting up with friends in Canada. . . . . . . . . .

We arrived in Victoria, British Columbia yesterday morning via ferry from 
Port Angeles, Washington. Cool and damp, with a little rain in the afternoon, 
it actually felt good after the heat, high humidity and post-hurricane conditions
left behind in North Carolina.

Meeting up with old friends is always fun. . . . . . . . meeting up with friends
whom you've only known via your blog for many, many years, is even more 
than fun, it's an awesome experience!

Here on beautiful Vancouver Island, I spent a few hours last evening 
having a delicious dinner with two very special, long time Canadian blog friends, 
Honora of 'Pondside' and Lorrie of 'Fabric Paper Thread'.
Our husbands were also there, to take photos of course, and whilst they 
talked at one end of the table, we three chattered non-stop for more
than three hours. . . . . . . about everything under the sun.

September 20, 2018 - Honora, Mary, Lorrie - Victoria, BC 

Thank you again Honora and Lorrie, for taking time to 
get together, for the sweet gifts I'll take home as memories of Canada
 and you, and most of all, your friendship via our blogs for so many years.
It was definitely written in the stars that we would meet some 
day, and at long last it happened!

We wished you, our mutual blog friends, could have all been there with us!

Off this morning to explore lovely Victoria.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Carolina wrens forever -

. . . . . . . . and even in the winds brought by Hurricane Florence.

My pair of sweet wrens stayed around all through the stormy days - looking 
for insects, chirping loudly, and taking shelter on the porch when the rains
were drenching everything. 
The sun is back at last and things will be drying out.
We had limited time to do a complete clean up outside before leaving for
 Canada very early yesterday morning. It will wait for our return.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Scribble Picnic ~ EXPLORATION

Our creative host Michael has resurrected SCRIBBLE PICNIC following a busy
 summer when we took a break. I've missed you all and hope you are ready to
share your fantastic art again.
Here's my story and art piece for this week's theme - EXPLORATION.

In January 2013 I took a trip to explore the bottom of the world. 
My first thoughts were probably the same as what most people think. 

Why on earth would you want to go there?
Because my best friend Paula invited me to celebrate 
our 50 years of friendship on an Antarctic expedition. 
We followed British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's
 amazing January 1915 journey.

Isn't it all just white ice and snow?  
No, definitely not - think every shade of blue, green, and turquoise.

Isn't it freezing cold? 
In January it was summertime - temperatures were comfortable
 around 40F with light snow now and then.
Remember, no bad weather, just the wrong clothes. 
Travel always requires that you be prepared.

What is there to see? 
Icebergs, some over 2 miles long. Cobalt blue ice.
Hundreds of thousands of adorable penguins, stately black and
 white adults, and fluffy brown juveniles who will waddle up to you
 and peck your rubber boots.
Seals so fat and huge they make one actually feel petite.
Giant birds such as petrels and albatross flying overhead.
Barnacle covered whales spyhopping next to your Zodiac boat, 
 making eye contact - such a thrilling moment.

 It's too far away! 
Maybe not an afternoon sail, but two plus weeks on a fabulous 
expedition ship being waited on, fed well, talking to interesting people from 
around the world, and seeing incredible wildlife is fabulous, even in heavy swells.
OK, I admit crossing the infamous Drake Passage was more than swells!

Surely it's awfully dangerous!
Much in life is dangerous - driving in traffic, crossing the street,
eating contaminated lettuce, being robbed or worse in your own
comfy neighborhood. . . . . . and much more! 
Why pass up the chance of a life-changing, awesome adventure, breathing
 the cleanest air on the planet and sailing through the purest water, all because
 it's a little dangerous!

If interested in seeing more of my exploration of the Southern Ocean, 
Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and the Antarctica Peninsula, go HERE.

Meanwhile, consider joining us here at Scribble Picnic where you don't have to 
be 'an artist' (I'm not), but you can create something special to share with a lovely
 group of people from around the world.
Go HERE to read the FAQ's for the art co-op, then sign up and
join in. Hope to see you at the 'picnic' soon.

P.S.  For those of you who don't already know, I met up with Michael in
 Fort Collins, Colorado a few weeks back. Despite having followed each
 other's blogs for many, many years, we'd never met in person. 
Although too brief, it was an awesome time, and you can read my
 post on our time together HERE.

I am on my way to Canada - so am a bit late at the picnic!
Also, this hotel room is not the best place for WIFI so may have to 
leave my comments later, sorry!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Window Seat -

Crossing the Rocky Mountains - August 2018

I still prefer the window seat in order get a view when the clouds allow. . . . . . and
 of course to take photos of the often wild and awesome scenery below.
These days, on long haul flights, especially over night, I often take an aisle seat 
which makes it easier to get out if seat mates are sleeping.

Our trip planned for this week was somewhat questionable when
Hurricane Florence paid us a visit, but thankfully it looks like we'll make it. 
Planning to meet up with two very special long time blogging friends - and
many of you already know these lovely ladies - in one of our favorite cities
 on a beautiful island.
Western Canada we'll soon be on our way!
More later!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Hurricane Florence update + simple comfort food -

No comfortable feelings when looking out the windows at the mess surrounding
 us, and more still falling from the remnants of Hurricane Florence on this grey, 
dreary, soaking wet Sunday morning. But we are grateful, so grateful, that we have
 been spared major damage and unbelievable flooding now coming to so many
 areas of this state. Florence has impacted the entire state of North Carolina
and part of South Carolina also.
We still have bands of gusty winds and drenching rain circling but, unless trees
 fall due to saturated ground (and the rain will continue through Tuesday), we
 should be OK other than the possibility of power outages. 

Funny how 'comfort food' can be so personal. My go to food in times
 of worry and upset, has always been my simple childhood breakfast of
 toast and marmalade.
Very English I guess, and something that continues as a staple in my kitchen,
 crusty wholemeal toasting bread, butter, and a pot of perfect marmalade.
 Add a mug of strong black coffee, or a cup of hot tea, and calm comes
 with each crunch and sip. 

To our dear friends in western North Carolina, stay safe as Florence
 pays you a visit today. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hurricane Florence. . . . . . .and an excuse for a party!

We're doing OK so far and thank you so much for all the good wishes you sent, 
and continue to send, as we remain hunkered down watching the drenching rains fall.

Before turning in for the night Thursday, Bob and I took a walk down our street. It was quite eerie, silent, not a person visible, most lights out, most vehicles parked at the bottom of driveways away from towering backyard trees. We could make out heavy clouds skidding across the sky. The sound of the wind already rustling through the tree tops was somewhat spine-chilling - it was reminiscent of a Halloween night but without colorful goblins and fairies with their trick or treat bags. Later it was a noisy night with continuous things falling on the roof, thankfully so far just twigs and smaller branches - Nature pruning our oaks!  

Yesterday I got up early, headed into the kitchen to bake muffins and pizzas to share with our neighbors, just in case we lost power later. We watched live TV coverage from the coast as it was slammed by Florence's eye making landfall. In the afternoon we were in touch with several neighbors as the wind picked up and the heavy rain squalls started. We decided to have an impromptu Hurricane Party here early evening. It helped us all unwind a little while enjoying drinks, snacks, and good conversation about things other than the hurricane.

Today, the stronger winds subsided early morning, but now drenching bands of rain have come and will last for several days as Florence continues to move away from us very slowly - life threatening flooding, power outages and falling trees remain serious concerns. 

Our thoughts go out to friends in coastal areas of both North and South Carolina, inland areas and now also to those in western North Carolina where Florence will apparently turn and head north in the coming days. . . . . .the entire state will definitely be saturated. Stay safe. . . . . . 

. . . . . and keep your wellies handy!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Calm before the storm. . . . . . . .

Today we await the visit from Hurricane Florence. She continues a path
 toward the North Carolina coast to make her landfall tomorrow at a
 beach town we often enjoy, the one we always visit in Autumn which is our
 favorite season at our beautiful coast.

I know I've been overly stressed and short tempered for the past couple
 of days as the media bombards us with a mishmash of
  'end of the world', 'fire and brimstone' destruction stories, and yes perhaps 
that's what will happen. It's all in the hands of a greater power from hereon.

This morning when I read the words 'we are in peril' somewhere on my screen
 here, I realized only too well that a huge part of our area is in imminent danger 
from winds and rain, structural damage, and massive flooding, during the coming days.

Juvenile American robins on the front porch.

Even our birds have disappeared from the garden. Do they know 
something is amiss and have 'evacuated' further inland to a 
safer place?  
These young robins, and other fruit eaters, have decided the fig tree no
 longer looks like a place for breakfast.

Our cottage almost looks unlived in today - bare porch, no more hanging 
baskets and feeders, furniture stored away, pots moved. . . . . . just
the grill left out on the back deck in case we lose power and have to 
cook outside. Bob was able to get propane yesterday after three days
of trying, and we also managed to find gas for the cars. Tomorrow we'll 
 park in a deck at the nearby shopping center as we have so many huge
 trees around us - nowhere is safe for the cars even on our street - and as
we are on a cul-de-sac we only have one exit which could be blocked 
by fallen trees.
Memories of the damage we sustained in Hurricane Fran (1996) from trees
 falling on the house, one destroying my car in the driveway, no power for
 10 days, then months of clean up, remind us how we take modern day life
 for granted until those 'perils' arrive. . . . . . and of the mighty power of Nature!

Thanks so much for all the good wishes that we stay safe in the
days ahead. We too are hoping the best for our family, friends and
 neighbors both here locally and scattered across North Carolina.
 I'll be back here as long as we have power.