Monday is for Musing…

in no particular order…

My old Nikon is so old…and I’ve banged it around, left the lens caps off, and did I mention it is old?  I think its photos are about 3 pixels.  I’ve priced a new one and I’m just too cheap to buy it…  The disadvantage is that it is such a big camera and dragging it around my neck gets tiresome.  The advantage is that it has a viewfinder and I’m just bad at taking pictures using that screen-thing ya’ll are so accustomed to.

So it came to be that I needed a phone upgrade and got a Galaxy s7 edge the other day.  This baby takes lovely pictures, like going from analog to HD…but I’m struggling to get my composition right whilst using that dang screen to frame it.  I’ve been walking around the house practicing…

…and will hopefully be handy with it when we are on…

…our upcoming trip…

We’ve been cleaning up the house and gardens in preparation for our upcoming trip to Disney World.  Yes, we are Disney Freaks and try to visit every 2 years.   This year is very different, though, since Melissa and her brood can’t be with us.    Michael and I have been intently working on the trip since last Christmas.  Casey and I will be staying at the Fort Wilderness Campground and the Jrs were upgraded from Port Orleans to Animal Kingdom Lodge!  We have dining reservations at the Royal Table (and all the other good character dinners) and fast-passes for all the most popular rides.  Because we’ve usually had a group of 10 and adjoining rooms, because we’ve usually stayed 4 days and this time we’re staying 6, I’m sort of discombobulated by the amount of time Casey and I will be on our own…  The International Food and Wine Festival is going on at Epcot…very timely…

(The New Yorkers will be meeting us at WDW next July…we get to go every year for a while!)

…remember when facebook was fun..?

It’s been a while.  Long ago I began to “hide” people, putting them on my acquaintance list whenever they posted a hateful anti-Obama meme or spewed some other racist shit.  I felt that was “nicer” than un-friending them, and soon half of my fb-friends were hidden.

The other day, I put Everybody back on the Friend List and started to receive their little posts in my newsfeed…  No surprise that all of those “friends” are still posting anti-Obama and Hillary memes, anti-LGBT and immigrants posts, and are Angry that Most of us are opposed to their guy, acting like they were so respectful when they were opposed to Pres 44.  Can anybody say “Tea Party”?  Oh, I forgot, that was about “taxes”, not that black guy who was president…

I have put most of them back on the acquaintance list…

..the self-acceptance summit…

My biggest personal problem, the one that I have struggled with Forever, it seems, is my self-hate.  I talk to myself like I would never speak to another person.  I call names, I demean, I beat myself up for every mistake I make.  My inner Judge has always been a bitch, stemming from blahblah childhood blahblah poor parenting, blahblah mean people blahblahblah…  I’ve prayed, I’ve meditated, I’ve tried the medicine…my struggle continues.  Ridding myself of people who reinforce such attitude has helped, and last week I attended a seminar on Self-Compassion that was Word when I needed it.

It was nice to “meet” some of my favorite authors–Elizabeth Gilbert, Danielle LaPorte, Kristin Neff, and Anne Lamott, to name a few.  What I was advised was to be my own friend and to respond to my Self with compassion, understanding, and forgiveness.  Sounds easy, eh?  Well, I’m trying.

What struck me most about these folks was their lack of perfection, their complete and honest admission that they are just as effed up inside as I am.  People who write best-sellers are still just messed up people like me….except they actually wrote best-sellers…

enough of musing…let’s have some music…

Peace

A day at the races…

Even though it was Thanksgiving, we didn’t buy the buffet tickets at Churchill Downs because we would have had to get up and out of here too early to suit us.  Instead, we lazied around and watched the Parade before we drove over to Louisville, arriving in time for the 7th of 12 races.  I made some of my trademark $2 show bets first, then grabbed some excellent BBQ from Smoky’s in the Cafe Court.   The crowds were sparse, so there was plenty of room in our box to spread out and chow down while I watched my horses fight it out for 3rd…only one made it, but it was the one with the longer odds…

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Bellies full, we wandered back downstairs to get some drinks, make some bets, and take some pictures.  I love the Grey Goose Lily cocktail that comes in a souvenir glass with discounted refills…try it if you’re ever at Churchill.  I forked over another 80cents on wagers, then it was out to the paddock area—but we just missed the horses going out to the track.  Kentucky loves horse sculptures and they do it well…check out the life-size statue of Pat Day in the background…

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Then we went trackside…

I didn’t know I was doing this, but I got shots of the gates closed, then jut as they opened…kinda cool…

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It was a 1 1/8 mile race…here’s the field starting..

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and here they are streaking for the finish…(my horse, Bird Song,  eeked it out to win)…

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We stuck around for just one more drink and race, then cashed in my $6.40 winnings and drove home…

This could get to be a Thanksgiving tradition…  Hope you had fun, too!

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Holidays are Upon Us

 

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For those of us whose families are either scattered or estranged, it’s a real bummer to watch the Rockwell tableau around the turkey, but I soldier on.

 This year we’re going to watch the horses run at Churchill Downs.  The gates open at 10am, first race is at 11:30, and they’re serving up a Thanksgiving Day menu all day.  Louisville is only 90 minutes away, but an hour ahead, so we’ll miss most of the Parade…   I love the Parade, have seen it in person a couple of times, but it’s not as fun when you’re alone…feelin’ sorry for me yet?

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Where, you ask, are my children?  The Jrs. spend the day with my daughter-in-law’s grandmother who is up in her 80’s now, so has clear seniority.  Melissa and her family have committed to Thanksgiving at Oireachtas in Philadelphia, an annual Irish Dance contest, which does Not have seniority, but that’s okay.

Once we make it past Turkey Day,  it’s time to haul out the holly and drag out the decorations for Christmas.  We’re going to kick the Season off on Saturday with Breakfast with Santa and dancers from Nutcracker at Gattitown.   Santa is going to read them a story and there should be plenty of photo ops.  Samantha (21-months-old) is a hoot and I’m curious to see how she reacts to the Jolly Man.

I’ll have my camera ready for all of the Holiday Action and will report in as events unfold!

Week-end Wrap-up

What a week…huh?  The weather has been beautiful as the temps have dropped to more appropriate autumn levels, blessing us with bountiful sunshine and blue skies as a backdrop to the reds, yellows, and orange of the changing leaves.  I took a lot of walks around our back acres, shuffling my feet in the leaves to cover the sounds in my head, looking at every tree and leaf for a message, listening for birds, or even a squirrel for comfort.  The squirrels came through for me and told me to get back to work, winter’s coming on.

We’ve put the travel trailer away for the winter.  You have to drain all the water hoses and stuff, fill them with a kind of antifreeze, then throw a giant, expensive, cover over it to protect it from the water elements.  Casey’s been hard at work helping Michael with a water heater, but he managed to get it all done while I moped around inside.

We’re counting the days until the retirement, with fear and love…   His retirement date is 12/16.  I’m traveling to NYC for our usual Rockette extravaganza from 12/15-12/19.  I was kind of worried about him since I’ll be gone for his Last Day and First Day…   so I asked him…

“Now tell me, do you really mind that I’m gone those days?  Will you be all right coming home to just the cat after your last day?  Will you be afraid waking up alone on your first day of retirement?

Classic Casey…”you mean I’ll have 2 vacation days?  I think I’ll be okay.”

Yes, 2 vacation days, then it’s you-and-me-together for the rest of our lives, or something like it…  I don’t mean that’s a bad thing, but it will definitely be a time of adjustment.

In order to distract me, we’ve started watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.  I wish life were more like comic books–a hero would come along and start throwing cars around and save us all from the bad guys.  >sigh<

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Just walking in the woods…

 

Camping Compendium Day 1, Part 2

Just past the Oconoluftee Visitor Center, the Blue Ridge Parkway “ends”…  The Parkway stretches 469 miles mostly along the Blue Ridge chain of mountains that is part of the Appalachian Mountains, connecting Shenandoah National Park (mile marker 1 at the tip-top) to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (mile marker 469, bordering the Cherokee Indian Reservation).   We have traveled this route before, from 469 to about 160, and from 84 to 1, where it connects with Skyline Drive in Shenandoah.  We camped at Shenandoah many moons ago and drove Skyline in the fog.  It’s on our list to drive it all at one time, hopefully with the sunshine that we had last Saturday in North Carolina.

GSMNP was packed with visitors, so the the small 13-mile stretch we drove was a welcome relief from the lines of cars, and the views were just as awesome…

First we stopped at the visitor center…

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Then drove on up the mountain…

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I think the winding road down there is the one from Maggie that we drove in on…

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I love it when the mountains in the background look like waves…

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The colors…

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The weather was simply perfect…

 The only place you can buy alcohol in Cherokee is in the casino, and we are an alcohol-fueled couple.  We drove 30 or so miles down to Bryson City to visit Nantahala Brewing Company, figuring we’d pick up some beer.   It looks like the place is pretty new, large-screen TV’s and a stage for live music.  Right across from the GSM Railroad, it was about half-full of tourists like us.  We tried a flight of 4 5oz beers, one of which tasted precisely like Ass, complete with a whiff of fart.  The others were just okay, so we did not buy a $10 six-pack.  I did cleanse my palate with a nice cider that Nantahala does not make…

Back at camp, we had foil dinners…hamburger, potatoes, carrots, onions cooked over the fire.  We made foil apples, too:  cored the apples (I did this at home) and filled them with brown sugar and cinnamon, then wrapped them in the foil and cooked them over the coals until they were mushy…mmm…  I had brought extra brown sugar/cinnamon shake, too.

We watched the fire burn until our eyes couldn’t stay open…  Awesome Day #1

Camping Compendium Day 1

As we left for our mini-vacay last week, I was pretty tense, very distracted, awfully anxious. I knew we would be completely off-grid for a few days–no cell, no TV, not even radio–and frankly, that added to my stress, even though it was the whole point of going. We drove down through Bowling Green and over backroads in Tennessee, picking up I40 around Cookeville.  Our GPS advised us that the traffic down through Gatlinburg was stopped and pointed us toward our Cherokee, NC destination via Maggie Valley.  Maggie is lovely, but the road out has hairpin curves….it was a long last hour.  We got into Smokemont around 5 and had just enough time to set up camp before dark.  I had packed fried chicken, so after we filled our bellies we sat around the campfire and stared, listening to the quiet and not-thinking, beginning to unwind.

We were up early the next day for a hike.  A short walk from our campsite, the Smokemont Loop is only 3/4 mile, but it climbs, so it’s labeled moderate.  Hiking along, stopping to look and listen, the only wildlife we saw was a gray squirrel, but the birds were chirping over our heads, so I know they were there.  I Really am not into bears, but Casey was on the lookout the entire trip…

Smokemont Loop Trail

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The hike felt like a gentle massage…I could feel the tension leaving my shoulders and I hadn’t once thought about anything but the beauty of my surroundings.  We grabbed a sandwich back at camp, then set off to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and take some Overlook pictures.  That’s for tomorrow.

See you real soon!

Picture Post with guest photographer

We’re packing it in for our Smokies trip, but I wanted to share a few pics before we go.  I am fascinated with shadow pictures…they show off my long legs…

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As we were tearing down camp at Harmonie SP the other week, I let Olivia, my 8-year-old grand-daughter, wander around taking pictures with my Nikon.  I think she did a pretty good job, so here’s her album.

Pictures by Olivia