Amelia Island Part 1

Hello in Blogland!

There hasn’t been a lot to report in a while and I got out of the habit of blogging.   Sis and I had a vacation, so there are new things to share with you.

Amelia Island!  I received a Garmin GPS for Christmas (LOVE IT) and it doesn’t recognize Amelia Island, but it does Fernandina Beach which so handily is the same place.  Sis was attending a professional conference and brought me along for company and driving assistance.  I enjoy driving, and she doesn’t so it is a good match.  The first road test of the Garmin with the sisters on wheels provided some entertainment to watch the roads go past on the display and hear the oh-so-patient “Recalculating.”

Garvin the Garmin is pretty insistent on the routes you are to take and doesn’t have a lot of understanding that you might wish to detour a bit for various reasons.  I declare that The Voice becomes a little testy at times when you ignore it.   One of our brief stops was at one of the Citrus stores – with free samples and juice.  That alone was worth the stop.

We both LOVE pralines, and the store had a packaged one that we bought to give it a try.   Sis is trying to adapt to a low carb diet so chooses her carbs with care and this was not worth a second taste to her.  It wasn’t all that bad, but did have a “chemical-y” taste to it.  Interesting that they used a plastic lid for a drink cup as a support for the praline.

Garvin took us right to the door of the hotel.  It was a recently remodeled hotel with comfy beds and great pillows.  A nice bar area held a microwave and small refrigerator.  After dropping Sis off at the first conference session I did a bit of shopping in a local grocery store to lay in some lunch and snack supplies.

The original plan had both of us getting up and I would drop Sis off at the conference each morning and pick her up in the afternoon in order to have the car for the day for driving around and doing things.  But the conference schedule was arranged so the participants would have time to enjoy the features of the resort and she was “released” at lunch time most days.  Sis was the only one to arise in the early hours and drove herself.  Save gas you know and I was looking forward to some crafting time…sleeping in a bit had NOTHING to do with the decision (HAH!).

The hotel also had a marvelous hot breakfast – fluffy scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits, and the usual cereal, toast, yogurt, and pastries.  I’d go down and linger over a leisurely breakfast while reading and return with my spinning wheel to spin while I watched the world go by.  People generally do a double take when they walk past when they see me spinning.  Some stop and chat with me, and it is always interesting.  One man said “You don’t see people doing that much, do you?”  My response was that he wasn’t hanging around with the right people…

I did brave the chill of the pool one day to do my water exercises but although pleasant was a bit on the COLD side.  Sis loves being in the water, too, and when she got home from the conference the first day we hit the pool.  I got in but she dipped her toe in and declared it was too cold so went and sat in the sun with her book.

This is going to be the tale of the seafood restaurants.  We LOVE seafood, and since this area has a great history of fishing…so it must be easy to find good seafood, right?  The first restaurant was within walking distance of the hotel but I about fell out of my seat over the price of the food.  A little more than I was expecting but we decided to stay and I’m glad we did.  The crab cakes were perfect – large bits of real crab with just enough other stuff to make them hold together while cooking.  YUM.  It was also interesting to note that the tables were supported by antique treadle sewing machine bases.  Interesting but horrifying…all those gorgeous sewing machines trashed!!!

Vacation Tuesday October 19 – Chimney Rock

Tuesday morning was so clear, bright, and beautiful we decided that it must be the day to go up Chimney Rock.

From the room balcony you can see the River and Chimney Rock. You can barely see the large American Flag on top of the actual Chimney.

After breakfast in town we entered the state park and drove the winding road up to the top.  Only about 8 cars had preceded us and we were able to park immediately in front of the gift shop.

The penny stamping machine caught my eye and we both had to make a souvenir of our visit.  A couple of pictures at that altitude and we were ready to brave the long dark tunnel to elevators.  Naw, it wasn’t dark at all with the lighting that displayed the texture of the solid rock walls

The tunnel to the elevator

We were able to get on the next elevator and swooshed to the top exiting in another gift shop and snack bar.  Well, nearly the top. A stairway of 44 steps remains to arrive at the Chimney portion of the mountain.  An outside eating area provided the first unimpeded view of the valley, Lake Lure, and mountain ridges in the distance.

Wow - what a view, and we can still get a little higher.

Up the 44 steps and although the top of the chimney is a pretty good size, it feels strange to be standing on a small rocky portion of the mountain.  After a few pictures we went back down the steps and looked for postcards.  You know how hard postcards are to find anymore?  Instead of 50 different views to choose from, only a dozen were available, and it was the same everywhere we went.  While sis was shopping I had a chance to write postcards to family and a friend or two while sitting at a table at the snack bar.

After coming down from Chimney Rock, we drove towards Brevard to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and see family.  One of our cousins was hosting a family dinner that night so we could see her whole family-husband, sons,  siblings and their children.  She made some casseroles and soup and was even able to go with us on our drive up Mt. Pisgah.  It was a fun afternoon, chatting and visiting while driving to see just one more overlook filled with leafy trees and mountains.  Ahhh.

Looking Glass Falls was one of the first stops.

Sis got us back to cousin’s home just in time to start meeting all the cousins and little cousins as they arrived for dinner.  What a lovely evening, visiting and getting to know again this NC part of the family.  Of course we exchanged emails and Facebook ID’s to keep in touch.  The kids were intrigued with some of the games and activities sis has on her iPhone.

The drive back to Chimney Rock at night was a bit more challenging than we supposed.  It is sooo easy to take a wrong turn at night.  After getting on the correct road, the iPhone neglected to advise us the road was closed for a bridge repair so we were a bit surprised and apprehensive about the detour.  Once back on the intended road…there was another detour.  It tickled my silly bone but since Sis was driving I wasn’t sure if she would find it as humorous as I did.  But a giggle escaped and we had a good laugh about it.

Before too much longer we were back in the comfortable beds at the Carter Lodge and listening to the sounds of the river.

Vacation 2010 Monday October 18-NC

Sunday night we spent in a hotel just off the interstate in Hendersonville, NC.  We have family nearby and it was a good location to start the next day’s activities.  Dinner was at a nice Italian restaurant on Broad Street and they had the best pesto butter for their bread!  YUM.  As good as the meal was, I could have eaten a meal with bread and that butter and been satisfied.

I am a BIG fan of the Peaches & Creme yarns – the last cotton yarn spun in America from American Cotton, dyed in America by a family owned business.  The factory is located in Old Fort, NC not too far from Asheville.  Sis agreed to let it be our first stop on Monday, and I am so glad we did!

I met a fellow Ravelry member that lives nearby and we were able to see all the colors and different yarns produced by the company and spent some money at the outlet store.

A few of the many colors - too many to choose from!

Here is the yarn we took home.  Sis bought a bagful for the Pink Ladies to knit and crochet baby hats and bibs – I have the rest!

Yarn and thread - what a lovely pile!

Lunch was at Mustard’s nearby and we all enjoyed our meal – then Sis and I hit the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We wanted to get some maps and info and get to the Folk Art Center before it closed.  Success!  Beautiful structure, and just jam packed with all handcrafts you could imagine – pottery, quilting, wood working, weaving. glass work, and more.

Our hotel for the week was a lovely motel right on the river in Chimney Rock, The Carter Lodge.  We could step out on our little balcony and look down on the river and then up to see Chimney Rock!  The room was cozy and the beds were quite comfy and it was a good place to call home for our time in NC.  Believe it or not, it was still light and we ate at a restaurant in town, also overlooking the river.  The food was fantastic – Sis had the chili and it came in a huge bowl and I was a bit jealous I didn’t order it.  She did give me a bit, along with a taste of the cornbread, too.

We watched the sun go down over the mountains and I took one of my favorite photographs

 

Evening sky over the river

 

Vacation 2010 – I’m back!

Hello out there in blog land!  It has been some time since I visited with you and I have traveler’s tales from a vacation the end of October.  Sis and I do enjoy traveling together and have similar views and likes so it goes well.   Stage one was getting out of the house, no mean feat as neither one of us has learned to travel lightly.  Watching travel shows where the host dangles a little pack from his hand containing all the necessities of life for 4 weeks strikes me as odd.

Yes, we can stop and purchase whatever we need at a handy neighborhood Walmart, but why should we have to buy a replacement item when we already have another one right here that can be tucked into the suitcase?  I am also an…ahem…unusual size and have to buy clothing in a couple of stores that aren’t quite as ubiquitous as WM.  So if I need another blouse or pair of slacks, I can’t just run into a nearby chain store and get something off the rack.

Sis has a cute smallish car that is amazingly roomy on the inside so there is always room for one more thing.  Almost always.  No wonder we prefer car vacations.

This was the first year we traveled primarily by GPS.  Sis has an iPhone with the AT&T Navigator app.  It works well, but you have to double check it because if you choose shortest route you may be driving through someone’s back yard on the way to the neighbor’s field to cut off a mile or so from the distance. This happened to us returning home from a visit to our brother.  We wanted off the interstate because I-75 Southbound on the Sunday following a major holiday weekend is not for the faint of heart, or those unwilling to spend a few hours in 3 lanes of a parking lot.  We followed the iPhone and it lead us to a state highway to a county road to a gravel road to a dirt road.  You can imagine our relief when the dirt road ended at a state highway.  We had no idea what might be coming next – a deer path, perhaps?

Fastest means you will be driving interstate.  Even if you have to drive 10 miles in the other direction to get to the interstate and 10 miles to get from the interstate to your destination.   I did learn to use the different features of the GPS to prove that yes, we were following reasonable and logical directions.  Is this sense of victory I felt a bit odd?

The first day of marathon driving finally ended in the northern part of SC and found a motel for a much-needed night of rest.  At breakfast the next morning Sis spotted a baby.  Sis is a Baby Whisperer.  Babies love her and she loves babies.  They are simply enamored with her, and this little boy was no different.  He was with his Dad and we all had a nice visit while the adults finished their breakfast.  Time for getting on the road again!

It wasn’t long and we noticed a roadside sign directing us to the last remaining covered bridge in South Carolina, Campbell’s Covered Bridge.  It was only 11 miles off the highway so we detoured, and so glad we did!  What a lovely little park and covered bridge a short walk from the parking area.

Campbell's Covered Bridge in South Carolina

The goal for the day was Ceasars Head State Park in South Carolina.  It is on a very wind-y road with switchbacks and beautiful views.  Not too many guard rails and the drop off is a bit close to the road for those with altitude issues.  Sis likes to drive in the mountains simply because it DOES bother her and driving helps keep the motion sickness under control.  She also thinks I spend too much time looking at the scenery and not the road.  No problem.  As passenger I get to look at the scenery all the time and take pictures.

Apples were in season and we stopped and bought a small bagful from a man on the side of the road.  Cameo apples were a new variety for us, and they were so good we bought more before heading back to Florida.  YUM.

Since we arrived on a beautiful, clear Sunday and the leaves were changing, there were LOTS of people in the park and finding a parking place was a challenge.  You must get out and walk out on the overlook.  It was a stunning view.

The Overlook at Ceasars Head State Park in South Carolina

Some cousins have a vacation home just over the border into North Carolina and we stopped by to see if they were home- nope.  We missed them by a few hours.  The dam our grandfather and great-grandfather helped build was a few miles farther along the road so that was our next destination.  Here is a picture of the falls over the top of the dam.


Waterfall over the top of the Dam

The end of the first day of sightseeing!  More vacation pictures and stories coming.

Podcasts I like Part 1

While working on the ebay stuff I like to listen to podcasts.  Some of my favorite podcasters talk about knitting, spinning, and books.  I keep “discovering” new ones because each podcaster likes to mention and discuss the podcasts THEY like to listen to.

In no particular order:

Crafternoon Tea with GrannyG – From New Zealand!  (I can’t believe spell check doesn’t recognize that Zealand is a proper word).  “A fibrecraft podcast from NZ featuring interviews with inspiring people.”  And recipes.  Cooking yummy stuff!  She even prepares fiber for spinning – I love messing with wool.

The Knitmore Girls – “A Mother Daughter Knitting Production”  Jasmin and GiGi share their knitting projects and errors, spinning, sewing, and reviews.  I really enjoy their respect and love for each other that comes through each discussion.  Makes me cherish the memories I have of my mother even more.  Of course,  she would never record her voice because she sounded “too southern” as do I.

CraftLit – Heather O discusses her knitting, life, cooking, and comments on the book portion.  She serially presents a book in audio form from Librivox and discusses the themes, plot, and other information that enhances your understanding and enjoyment of the book.  It is like sitting down with your friend the English teacher over her/his favorite books.  I got hooked on her with Jane Austen and stuck around for Mark Twain A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.  It is not a book I would see myself reading (so many books, so little time…) but I am enjoying  the commentary and a few chapters each podcast.  The reader is fantastic.   I am looking forward to going back and “reading” some of the previous books with Heather.

CogKNITive – A Knitting-Psychology Podcast.  Dr. Gemma is a practicing Psychologist in California in both private practice and the prison system.  Each podcast includes a discussion about knitting, crochet, spinning, aspects of her job, and a life strategy.  She organizes a small fiber festival each year at the beginning of October and I wish I was close enough to go.  I love her common sense approach to living life.  Knitmore Girls mentioned her, and I am so glad they did!

Knitting update

It is nearly time for my personal realization that Christmas is coming and I have gifts to make.  Not quite yet because Thanksgiving is the panic button day.

So I am doing general knitting and spinning.

I started a shawl (Blue Jeans Lace Leaf Shawl) with my own handspun, a single ply, and it is not going well.  I don’t spin well enough yet to skip the all-important plying step to help hide some of my way too thin parts.  Grey wool on silver knit picks needles?  Not so easy for my eyes on the cobweb weight parts.  I will persevere!  The parts that are done look nice, so that is encouraging.  At the rate it is going I will still be working on it 2 years from now.
Since I wrote this draft, the above shawl is no more.  We made it to row 30 and I was spending more time tediously tinking back than I was knitting forward.  Some yellow baby yarn was in my stash and I began knitting with it to see if it was the pattern or the yarn giving me problems.  It was the yarn.  The lovely gray has been ripped out and wound carefully back into it’s ball to await further inspiration.  Even though the yellow is kind of bright and squeaky acrylic it is fun knitting.  The pattern finally MAKES SENSE!

The sock yarn blankie is going well and will have a lot of blue.  I had never noticed how many of my knitterly friends liked to make blue socks.  He (the blankie is a He.  For some reason I have begun to refer to IT as a HE) has been a traveling companion and dr’s office calming device.  Quite a few people commented on how serene I looked knitting while waiting for my eye surgery.  Knitting makes a great socially acceptable pacifier for a medical procedure wienie.

Socks are on another pair of needles and actually got about an inch or so done on them today. 

The all important heel is coming up and the anticipation is daunting.  I need an easy to engineer heel that can be readily altered for large ankles.  Very large ankles.  I’m trying to decide between Widdershins (a kind blogger even broke it down farther for some of us) or Fleegle heel (Fleegle fine tuned the method in another blog post).

Spinning is chocolate cherry wool from my VA shepherd(ess?) friend and I am TRYING to make a thicker singles.  I would love something I could ply 2 together and get a sport weight.  Or even go whole hog and 3 ply!  wow!

Take Care!

I Haz a Cold…Air, that is!

I have cool air in all of my house.  Yippee!!  New Central AC installed today.  I don’t care if it is September and MOST of the hot weather is behind us, I have conditioned, dry air in my house.

The inside air handler is sitting in a pan with a cut off switch so if the condensate pump quits working, the unit will not continue to run and leave water all over the floor.

If you are a local friend of mine, I have the name of great AC people.

I didn’t realize this message hadn’t posted to the world, so the update.  AC went in on 9/13 and a week later I still love it.  It is marvelous.  The only disadvantage is the condensate pump that will ensure all stays dry sounds like an jet engine winding up.  Sitting on an aluminum pan suspended above the floor might do that.  Will be talking to the AC guys about maybe putting it on some cushioning so the vibrations aren’t transmitted directly to the metal pan.

Update on eyes – the new eye is doing great, and I continue to be amazed at the improvement in vision.  My brain has adjusted to seeing with two eyes with different vision.  The new eye has a different perception than the old eye with glasses.  It has been interesting…