Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Greensboro

International Civil Rights Center & Museum and the F.W. Woolworth store
We went to Greensboro last weekend for the National Folk Festival and while we were there, we decided to tour the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which includes the Woolworth's store where the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins took place. The museum has several wonderful exhibits, including the actual diner where the "Greensboro Four" along with local college and high school students and other supporters changed history.

We met up with my Greensboro cousins and set out in search of music. And we found plenty of it! I wasn't familiar with most of the artists at the Festival, but that just made it more fun to check them out. Some of the ones I enjoyed most were:
Yeah, I like all kinds of music, for sure.

The Festival will be in Greensboro for one more year, so y'all need to get to it in 2017!

mm
:)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Summertime

Ocean Isle Beach from the Pier, 20AUG16

That song that says "the living's easy" in summer certainly hasn't applied to me this year! This has been the busiest, most intense summer I've had in a very long time. I haven't taken any time off work (because in my new company, you have to earn it before you can take it). I'm loving the new job, but I've never in my life worked so hard for so many hours. This has been a summer of work, eat, and sleep and not much else, but I'm not complaining.

The biggest 'distraction' of my summer has been Postcrossing. It's a web site where you can register to send postcards around the world, and in return you get postcards from other users. So far I've sent 38 cards and received 26. The top three countries I've received from are Russia, Japan, and Germany and the top ones I've sent to are Germany, Netherlands, and Russia. It's a pretty cool hobby and it only takes a few minutes to write a postcard.

I have two pen pals. You know, as in old-fashioned letter writing. I got one of my pen pals through the Letter Writers Alliance and the other one I "met" on Twitter. One lives in a small town in Oklahoma, the other in a city in Wisconsin. We write each other about once a week. So another hobby of late has been to find pretty stationery, which isn't nearly as easy as it used to be.

These are hobbies I can pursue at home in the evenings that don't take too long and yet the reward is thrilling. I love getting snail mail! It makes my day to get a letter or postcard. 

In other news, my parents recently celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. (Hard to imagine that two people could stand each other for that long, LOL!) On my visit to The Farm last weekend, I told them I wanted to take them out to dinner to celebrate and asked where they wanted to go. I was thinking they'd probably want to go to the local steak house or Italian place, but they said they wanted go to Calabash. (Calabash is a small town on the southern North Carolina coast that's known for seafood restaurants and "Calabash-style" -- um, deep fried -- seafood.)

I hadn't taken them on a road trip in a while, so wasn't expecting this request, but I'm always ready to go somewhere. So we piled into the car and made the 90-minute drive. After our meal, we decided to go to one of the beaches. We ended up at Ocean Isle Beach and took a walk on the pier. I could have sat on the pier for hours -- it was so relaxing.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, Northern Hemisphere peeps. For those of you South of the Equator, summer's on it's way! Cheers!

mm
:)


Monday, May 30, 2016

Blowing Rock

Raven Rocks Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway
Just got back from a nice weekend in Blowing Rock, a town in northwestern North Carolina that's famous for a nearby rock formation called The Blowing Rock. A tourist attraction since way back in the day, the Blowing Rock overlooks a scenic gorge on the Eastern Continental Divide, and it's totally worth the $7 adult admission fee (it's on private property) to see.

The Blowing Rock on the left, and the lovely view
Old school sign
We stayed at the Green Park Inn, an historic in built in the 1880s. The Green Park's walls are covered with photos of famous people who stayed there back in the day (Eleanor Roosevelt and Annie Oakley, to name a few), antiques, creaky floors, and the requisite old hotel ghost. I loved it. By the way, the bartender in the Divide knows how to make an awesome Bay Breeze, and perfect after-dinner coffee cordials. And I'd go back again just to have another slice of the most delicious apple pie ever and vanilla ice cream that's made right there in the kitchen.

Green Park Inn and rhododendrons in bloom
On Sunday, we wandered the Town of Blowing Rock's cute Main Street, found an awesome coffee shop and hung out there for a while, then headed over to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a short drive to Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. Moses H. Cone was a wealthy textile businessman and philanthropist of the Gilded Age, and the park was once his beloved summer home. In addition to the 13K square-foot house, called Flat Top Manor, the grounds include some twenty-five miles of hiking and biking trails. We took advantage of those, even in the misty rain and cool temps that rolled in on Sunday.

Flat Top Manor on a rainy day
We topped off the trip with a visit to Tweetsie Railroad, the "Wild West theme park" between Blowing Rock and college-town Boone, home of Appalachian State University. Tweetsie, named for the sound made by the steam locomotives (there are two of them) that wind around the park's perimeter, has been open since 1957. Both S and I went there when we were kids. (Somewhere out there are photos of my three-year-old self riding the helicopter ride and posing with the Can-Can girls.)

One of the steam trains at Tweetsie Railroad
Just like when we were kids, we rode the Ferris wheel, the Tilt-a-Whirl (twice!), and the Tweetsie Twister (known as Merry Mixer back in the day). We rode the odd-looking little gas-engine cars, too . . . the exact same cars, I'm sure, that were used in the park in 1970.

It was a fun weekend, and I really needed a getaway!

mm
:)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tiny houses


I've never been a big "stuff" person, but the older I get, the less "stuff" I want. When we moved to Charlotte almost six (yes, six!) years ago, we downsized significantly from a 4500 square foot home to a two-bedroom urban apartment before finally settling into a small suburban bungalow of about 1500 square feet. Most people thought we were crazy, but I felt nothing but relief. Especially when it came time to clean!

I remember the first time I heard about the so-called tiny house movement. At first I was like: Why would anyone want to live in a dollhouse? [Back in the 70s, my little sister had a "playhouse" bigger than most of today's tiny houses.] But the more I thought about tiny house living, the more it began to make sense.

I know from experience (from living in a tiny studio apartment in Europe several years ago) that I don't need much space. I'm a minimalist at heart. Give me a comfortable bed, a basic kitchen and bathroom, and a place to sit to eat and work on my laptop and I'm just fine. I don't feel the need to entertain at home. I'd rather meet my friends out somewhere!



I could absolutely live in a tiny house like the ones in these photos from a tiny house community near Asheville. The thing is, not everyone in my family is on board with the tiny house idea. Some people like their stuff. They like having space, like being able to spread out. They're not keen on getting rid of items they've taken a lifetime to collect, or inherited from parents and grandparents.

I respect that, I guess. Everyone is different.

But imagine being able to live more fully. Imagine having more free time. Imagine being able to clean your house in an hour, rather than the three-quarters of a day it takes me now or the entire weekend it used to take me when I had a much larger home.

It just seems so freeing to me.

And the older I get, the more I want to feel free.

mm
:)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Wichita


The Keeper of the Plains

We traveled to Wichita, Kansas last weekend to witness the wedding of S's nephew and his lovely bride. The wedding was perfect (of course!) and after the festivities concluded, we took some time to walk around the downtown area, including Old Town Wichita. After having dinner at Bite Me BBQ, we headed over to the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers to see the sunset and the lighting of the Keeper of the Plains. 

A glorious sunset over the Little Arkansas
Unfortunately, it was too windy for all of the flames to be lit. Regardless of the partial lighting, it was cool to see, and after the 15 minute "show" we walked back to the hotel on Wichita's very nice River Walk. As we approached the hotel, we realized a concert was taking place at a stadium on the other side of the river. Although the wind made the music sound slightly distorted, we recognized the song and artist -- The Band Perry was singing "If I Die Young." We hung out by the river for a while so we could listen to the (slightly distorted but free to us) concert. Pretty cool!

mm
:)












Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Allergies

The Angel Oak, Johns Island, South Carolina
We've had an early Spring here, with several days of 70/80F (21/26C) temps in early March. Oh, it was so exciting to be able to sleep with windows open! To go for walks! To work in the garden or yard! To be in the great outdoors!

Well, you know what happens with warmer temps. Flowers and trees start waking up. It happens so slowly, you don't even realize it, until the one day you wake up and see a familiar yellow haze in the air. Then you notice the yellow dust on your car, driveway, on your pet, everywhere. (At least that's how it is in North Carolina -- we're especially well-known for our pine pollen.)

By the time you see it everywhere, it's too late. You've already got ten tons of it in your nostrils, your eyes, your mouth and ears. You know it's not a random upper respiratory infection because you've had this before and so you know. Yes, I'm talking about my personal experience here.

This is my sixth Spring back in North Carolina, and I haven't had it this bad since I was six years old. I actually thought I had "outgrown" my allergies. Specifically my oak pollen allergy (yep, it's the oak pollen that gets me, even though I AM CRAZY ABOUT OAK TREES). But no. My allergies are back. Full force.

My allergies have been the worst ever this year. Seriously. I'm going to have to find an allergist and will probably need to get shots again. Either that, or move to Albuquerque.

In the meantime, the air conditioner is on. All walks and outdoor activities, suspended. It sucks, but hey, it's what works for me.

Excuse me, but I need to . . . Ah-CHOO!!!

mm
:)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Recurring dreams

I was recently challenged to write about recurring dreams by a mentor who happens to be reading Carl Jung's The Undiscovered Self (which I'm also trying to read, although slogging through is a more accurate description of my experience thus far.) While I don't typically remember my dreams past breakfast time anymore, there are a couple of recurring ones I've had for more than 30 years. So, challenge accepted, Mentor. Here you go.

1. The Searching for Someone dream

This dream involves one of the following three people from my past: 1) a childhood friend; 2) my first crush; and 3) another friend from more recent years.

The setting is always a place where I had memorable interactions with that person: my old elementary school, Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, the campground at Lake Junaluska, a church in Durham, the wine bar at Whole Foods in SouthPark, a certain Charlotte restaurant, an office building by a fountain, a stone house in the mountains.

ME: (Arriving, feeling hopeful) Has anyone seen ________?

RANDOM PERSON: Why, yes! He/She was here, but just left. You literally just missed him/her.

ME: (Feeling slightly disappointed) Oh! Any idea where he/she was going?

RANDOM PERSON: Yeah, he/she was headed to ________.

At which point I go to that place and the scenario repeats itself. Sometimes I get a glimpse of the person I'm looking for through a window or in the distance, but we never make eye contact. By the time I reach the next destination, they're gone. It's like pursuing a ghost. With each failure to connect, I feel more deflated. I wake up feeling extremely disappointed and that feeling stays with me for several hours. I just can't seem to shake it off. 

2. The Control Freak + Disaster dream

This dream involves my immediate family plus an aunt and uncle circa 1980. Everyone's the age they were then except for me; I'm whatever age I am at the time I'm dreaming. (So when I have the dream now, I'm actually older than my parents, which is totally weird.) The setting is always the same: we're hanging out at Aunt ML's house, in her yard or on her back porch.

There are two scenarios: 1) The tornado and 2) the airplane.

Tornado scenario

In the distance, I see something that looks like a funnel cloud. Slowly but surely, it forms into a tornado.

ME: (Shouting) EVERYBODY TAKE COVER! GET INSIDE! AWAY FROM WINDOWS! STAT!

MOM/DAD/SISTER/AUNT/UNCLE: (Looking at me like deer in headlights.)

ME: (Still shouting) SERIOUSLY! MOVE IT! NOW!!!

THEM: (Looking at each other, shaking their heads, then looking at me like I have three heads.)

MY DAD (Acting amused): She sure loves telling people what to do, doesn't she?

ME: (Completely put out that no one is heeding my warning.)

The sky's getting darker and the tornado is heading for us, but they're oblivious. I wake up just before the tornado touches down.

Note: This dream started long before I moved to Indiana, where I lived for 14 years and experienced life in Tornado Alley for real. I really don't know what to make of it.

Airplane scenario

I hear an airplane in the distance, but it doesn't sound normal. The engine makes sputtering sounds. I look up, and see the plane falling from the sky, with a trail of smoke behind it.

ME: (Shouting) THAT PLANE'S GOING DOWN! SOMEBODY CALL 911!

MOM/DAD/SISTER/AUNT/UNCLE: (Deer in headlights.)

ME: (Still shouting) SERIOUSLY! PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE! MOVE IT!!!

THEM: (Unable to move or speak or respond in any way. Completely frozen as if paralyzed.)

The plane continues to fall. Sometimes I see the panicked faces of the passengers in the windows. In the meantime, my family carries on without a care in the world, as if we're at a picnic. It's super-creepy. Luckily, I always wake up before the crash.

Both versions of this dream make me feel angry with my family for their inaction and complacence. It's true that I've always had a reputation for being "bossy" in my immediate family and that will probably never change. I've always had a directive leadership style. It's just how I roll.

I'd be really good in crisis situations. If people would just do what I tell them to do.

An analysis, sort of

WWJS? What would Jung say? That is the question.

Unlike Dream #1, which leaves me feeling fragile and frustrated, I really just have to roll my eyes at Dream #2. It doesn't bother me at all -- I just think it's weird that I've had it several times a year since I was in my early 20s.

Is it a birth order thing? I'm the oldest child in a family of youngest children. Dad? Youngest. Mom? Youngest. Sister? Youngest. Let me tell you, it hasn't been easy, because I'm as much the stereotypical oldest child as they are the youngest. CAN YOU IMAGINE THE PRESSURE?!! Even now, when we plan a family meal, something like this happens:

DAD: Where do you want to eat dinner?

MOM: I don't care. Where do you want to go?

DAD: I don't care, either.

MOM: It really doesn't matter to me.

ME: (Interrupting/blurting out) WE'RE GOING TO [NAME OF RESTAURANT.]

DAD and MOM: OK. Let's go.

But I digress, because now I'm beginning to head in the direction of Freud rather than Jung.

The point is, I've been making decisions since I could talk, because no one else in my family will. So yeah, I'm bossy, because somebody's got to lead. Too bad they won't follow my instructions!

As to Dream #1, I have no idea what that's all about. Guess I'll have to keep slogging through reading Jung for answers. Or maybe my mentor will do that for me?

mm
:)