Sunday, September 2, 2018

A Solo Adventure Travelblogue with Commentary

A couple of weeks ago, I packed up for a weekend getaway with two other people: Myself and I. I headed over to Blue Ridge, Georgia, where I had my very own hotel room!
With a view!
I decided to venture downtown and find some kind of take-out for an evening of noshing in bed in front of the TV. Something I NEVER do. I didn't know I would find authentic Polish food, served up by actual Polish women. The cabbage rolls were wonderful!
I don't know whether one of the gals was Margo or not. I turned on the TV for about 5 minutes, which caused me to remember why I don't have TV. I read magazines while I ate instead.

Then, because I'm "old," I went to bed, because the morning would bring trail exploration.
Long Creek Falls is an easy hike. Here are a few scenes from along the way.
People pay big money to recreate a scene like this in their yards.
At the end of the day, I'm an Appalachian mountain girl. There's something about rhododendron, tall trees, and a mountain stream . . .
I made it out of the woods and back to my hotel. Of course it was shower and nap time. After all, I had a Saturday night dinner adventure in Blue Ridge to prepare for!

Blue Ridge is a cute little town, but I couldn't help but be struck by how much the culture has changed, possibly over the past twenty or so years (my own observations; no 'science' to back up my claims) Most of those cars you see sported tags from out of town, and mostly from counties like DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb and Fulton. I can't remember the year the main highway into town was four-laned and divided, the better to whoosh the traffic back and forth between the metro Atlanta area and the mountains of north Georgia.
This is a nice example of a "city patio" garden, all done up with containers instead of plants in the ground.
How many of these diners live in Blue Ridge? What do the locals do? Do they hide out in their homes, being grateful for the business of the tourists on one hand, and cussing them on the other? That seems probable.

After dinner, I headed back to the hotel. I was beginning to feel the effects of the hike. Time to rest up. I turned on the TV again (just to make sure) and happened to catch "The Outlaw Josey Wales." I've seen that movie a dozen times, but thought it might not be a bad idea to watch it again. I made it up to Granny's famous 'doodly-squat' line, and the "Missouri boatride" scene before my book started calling to me.

Sunday morning I was up and stumbling to the lobby for my coffee fairly early. (One thing I REALLY, REALLY like about being at home is decent morning coffee that I don't have to get dressed to obtain.) I had more hiking on my mind.

I lazed around as long as I could stand it, then packed my stuff and checked out. I had a trail to find, but on the way, I saw an opportunity to learn yet more about the Tennessee Valley Authority's conquering of the Tennessee River. John and I have been studying this system for several years now, and are coming to a deeper appreciation of this engineering feat. Back in July we spent a day or two in the vicinity of the Pickwick Dam. And now this!

I headed onward to the Rich Mountain Wildlife Management Area and a nice network of trails near the Cartecay River.
Sunday's hike was a bit more ambitious than Saturday's.
For most of the time, I was the only person around. It is something else to be by yourself out in the woods, and to stop and listen to the calm. Such an interesting experience to realize you're the only human around. It's like being on an entirely different planet!
The Cartecay River.
Someone has been thinking of the turkeys, though.
I just love these little streams, with their mosses and ferns and tinkling water.

Well, the day was getting on, and I knew I had to head back to the car and make my way home. I saw this country cemetery and had to stop. I know there's a line in a old-time bluegrass song somewhere about that sweet mountain valley resting place.
My way home would take me through Marble Hill and Tate, two places that have always said to me, "You need to stop and take a few pics here!" Well, I finally did.

Kudzu eats at a remnant of what used to be an entirely different community, one defined by the marble quarry--famous pink marble, y'all! But really, what struck me this day was the kudzu. Kudzu, kudzu, kudzu everywhere.
Like most Southerners, I am steeped in kudzu legend and lore. But guess what! Turns out I've been wrong about several important aspects of this tenacious and--yes, interesting--plant. This article helped set me straight, and if you have any interest in kudzu, and think you know something about it, go here and read, and see what you may not have gotten right after all!

I've always been fascinated by the Tate Elementary School building. On this day, a Sunday, I decided to stop and look at it close up. It's quite impressive, and used to be the high school.

I would be interested to know when the high school moved out (probably to a consolidated county school) and the elementary school moved in. Was it when the school added this "mid-century modern" addition? Well, they tried to make it match the old school.

Always wanted to go to the Tate House, too. Alas, it is not open to the public on weekends.
So, that story will have to wait.

All in all, a wonderful little get-away with Me, Myself, and I.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Tica and Paulette Receive Care

A Topiary Family Update
March thru August, 2018

Back in March, I took an afternoon to check out the Topiary Family, dust off the winter doldrums, and provide some TLC in general. The main chore was repotting Tica, the dwarf peach.

The root ball slipped easily out of the old pot.

I broke up the root ball some,

sprinkled time release fertilizer in with the new dirt, replanted in the larger pot,

and watered well.

Next up on the chore list was some TLC for Paulette, who had been feeling poorly due to an infestation of lace bugs. I applied an insecticide to help the azalea get stronger before bloom season really cranked up.
I gathered everyone together for a family shot. Note the large cascade on T-Rex, center rear. Later on in the early summer, I decided that it was time to cut the cascade way back to encourage the foliage to thicken up and fill in some spots that were starting to look a bit mangy.
back row, L to R: Tica, T-Rex, Vivienne; front row L to R: Paulette, Babylonia holding Thumbelina
T-Rex, August 2018

And everyone today, all fat and sassy after a summer with plenty of water
far back, L to R: Tica, Vivienne; mid row L to R: T-Rex, Babylonia, Paulette; Thumbelina down front

Monday, July 9, 2018

Mr. Box-wood Settles In

Well, here is where Mr. Box-wood landed.

Not too shabby to be hanging with the Buddha. May your new home bless you with much nourishment and shelter.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Boxwood Travelogue

John and I have just returned from a road trip out to Memphis. The highlight of our trip was reconnecting with my high school friend, Hallie. I suggested that we take her a plant as a way to spread the love.

For the past several years, I've been working on shaping up two nice boxwoods that John started from cuttings at least fifteen years ago. I chose the one on the left as my gift for Hallie.

Here's the boxwood with new decorative rocks and a trim on the sedum growing on the ground. You can keep cutting sedums back and they will miniaturize nicely.

So we packed up the car and headed to our first stop, Pickwick Landing State Park.

Here is the boxwood, together with its traveling companion, a phantom hydrangea, gazing wistfully out the hotel window.

After two nights in the Pickwick Dam area, we headed on to Memphis, with a stop at Shiloh National Military Park.

Ready to be presented!

We look forward to a photo showing this boxwood happily residing in its next home. Where will it be?

In related news, here is a quick picture of the Topiary Family, as of July 2018.

Left to Right: Vivienne, Babylonia, Tica, Thumblina (in front of Tica), T-Rex. Not pictured: Paulette, who has nicely recovered from a lacebug outbreak. I cut one of T-Rex's cascade arms way back as it was getting straggly.  Time for a new direction!

All plants by Front Porch Plants!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Boo Hags

Here's a bit of backstory on how I came to write about this topic.

Just recently, I encountered an interesting convergence of three separate references to boo hags. The first two references occurred back in March, over the weekend where John participated in a storytelling symposium. And what is a storytelling symposium without a ghost story or two? Enter a tale about a boo hag who, every night, would unwind her skin onto a spindle and fly away to search for unsuspecting young men.

The second reference was unconnected to the symposium but came during a conversation where someone brought up the custom, in certain parts of the country, of painting door and window frames blue, to keep out boo hags since legend holds these scary critters can’t cross water, or the color blue.  Or how you sometimes see, here and there, an entire house painted blue. The blue keeps the haints out.

I was immediately taken with the term ‘boo hag,’ which I have not heard much in my life. I’ve heard haint, but not so much boo hag. I was immediately curious, so started some research—so easy to do in these days of the internet! More about this in a bit.

So it was with some new knowledge about boo hags that I watched a movie called Angel Heart (1989), starring Mickey Rourke (during his hot days) and Lisa Bonet. (Y’all remember Lisa Bonet from The Cosby Show?) I wasn’t familiar with the movie; just added it to my Netflix queue before I had done the boo hag research, because it looked interesting. And boy was it ever! Turns out voodoo was a pretty strong part of the plot, and one scene had Lisa Bonet’s character doing a ceremonial voodoo dance that was a strong nod toward a boo hag doing her nightly thing. I wouldn’t have recognized that if I hadn’t just done a bit of research on boo hags. (BTW, not a movie suitable for young ‘uns.)
Now, for those of you who don’t know what a boo hag is:

From Wikipedia:

According to the legend, Boo Hags are similar to vampires. Unlike vampires, they (usually female) gain sustenance from a person's breath, as opposed to their blood, by riding their victims (usually male).[1][2][3]

They have no skin, and thus are red. In order to be less conspicuous, they will steal a victim's skin and use it for as long as it holds out, wearing it as one might wear clothing. They will remove and hide this skin before going riding. 

When a hag determines a victim is suitable for riding, the hag will generally gain access to the home through a small crack, crevice, or hole. (Places needing a nice coat of blue paint!) The hag will then position themselves over the sleeping victim, sucking their breath. This act renders the victim helpless, and induces a deep dream-filled sleep. The hag tends to leave the victim alive, so as to use them again for their energy. However, if the victim struggles, the hag may take their skin, leaving the victim to suffer. After taking the victim's energy, the hag flies off, as they must be in their skin by dawn or be forever trapped without skin. When the victim awakes, they may feel short of breath, but generally is only tired.

Turns out the hag folktale is a world-wide occurrence. Robert Herrick (1591-1674) obviously knew of the hag story, because he wrote a poem about her.

The Hag

The Hag is astride,
    This night for to ride;
The Devill and shee together:
    Through thick, and through thin,
    Now out, and then in,
Though ne’r so foule be the weather.

    A Thorn or a Burr
    She takes for a Spurre:
With a lash of a Bramble she rides now,
    Through Brakes and through Bryars,
    O’re Ditches, and Mires,
She followes the Spirit that guides now.

    No Beast, for his food,
    Dares now range the wood;
But husht in his laire he lies lurking:
    While mischiefs, by these,
    On Land and on Seas,
At noone of Night are working,

    The storme will arise,
    And trouble the skies;
This night, and more for the wonder,
    The ghost from the Tomb
    Affrighted shall come,
Cal’d out by the clap of the Thunder.

That's it for now! Be careful out there, especially you young men.