Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I can't believe how quickly this last year has gone by. I think that is a sign of getting older, time just seems to be flying by. Hopefully, 2010 will be a much better year for everyone. Sure has been a long time since I have written on my blog. It is very easy to get lazy and not write on it.

My agenda is full for awhile. I have to get to work and prepare for an art show and sale in Gainesville, GA for the State Master Gardeners Convention. They juried artists into a show and sale where you will be able to show your "Garden Art". I want to get some more of my small encaustics done for the show. I'll have oils, pastels and encaustics in it with the theme being gardens, flowers, etc. The date is January 22nd, 23rd so I have to get busy on organizing my work that will be submitted.

Terry's ready to go someplace in the camper... it will have to be South because the campgrounds are closed up North. I guess we'll head towards Florida next, maybe around February. I have gotten really inspired to be more committed to plein air painting. I have joined a site of Plein air painters you can check it out by clicking on the badge in the right column of my blog. There are so many beautiful beach type pictures with palm trees, dunes and sandy beaches.. I' ll be looking for them when were headed South on the next trip.

Hope that you are all doing well and my prayer is that God will richly bless each one of you in this New Year with Peace, Love and Joy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Leaf Lookers.... that's us!

Well Terry and I have been "leaf lookers" for the last ten days. Off in our little camper again on our way to Vermont. We thought we should have gone earlier, but I had a workshop with Ann Templeton, a fabulous artist. It was great and I can't wait to paint, but had to put it off because the leaves were quickly turning. We left on Monday October 19th. Worked our way up through Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York before we finally got to Vermont. The leaves are beautiful!

We spent some time in the Shenandoah National Forest camping at the Big Meadow. It was beautiful with all of the color. I painted a little watercolor while Terry went out and hiked the trail at the Big Meadow. He came back excited because he had managed to see some larger deer with horns and even a black bear. There had been 4 inches of snow a few days before and you could still see remnants of it. I bet it was really pretty too. The weather was beautiful for us cool but not cold.

We are really enjoying this driving around by the seat of our pants. Through Pennsylvania I tried hard to get a picture of the Amish buggies. I would see one every blue moon but miss the picture. I finally got this one but missed the horses head.

In New York we were looking for a campground and went to the first one to find no one there. It was sort of being built or renovated and there was just a note on the door, we chose not to stay there. The second one we rode to we went down the back road very slowly but never did find where it was, right road but no campground. So as we are leaving to go back to I-81 we saw another sign. So... we finally found a beautiful campground by East Lake. We stayed the night there and they had beautiful stone buildings with lots of fir trees that were huge. They had lots for children to do in the summertime, pool, putt-putt golf, horseback riding and game rooms. It was really nice but had a beautiful old charm with those stone buildings.

Finally we were in Vermont! We stayed in Manchester the first night there. A really pretty old town with high end boutique shops for men and women. We also managed to make our way into the Orvis shop.... a fisherman's dream. The campgrounds are mostly closed up North after October 15th, most after September; but I think it depends on their weather. They were having beautiful weather this year so I think some were staying open longer. We still had to look to find one open.

In Shelburne we went to the Shelburne Museum, a fantastic museum. They were having a special event showing of motorcycles and Tiffany glass lamps. I was able to make lots of pictures of the 38 historic buildings that they have on the property. You were even able to make pictures inside as long as you didn't use a flash. So I really enjoyed this museum and we spent almost all day there. What we didn't realize was that it was the last normal day of the museum being open for the season. The next day they were having a Halloween party and expected 2000 people to attend.... not quite what we were looking for.

Here are a few of the things that we saw in the exhibits, they had alot of original artwork, here a Monet (Haybales), but also got to see Degas, and many others they held in their private collection. The Mary Cassatt painting was my favorite.

On our way over to the mountains of Vermont we passed by Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory. Couldn't pass that up so we did the tour and got our sample of Triple Caramel Chocolate Chunk! All it does is make you want more and go to their counter and buy another icecream treat....

We saw so many beautiful barns, bridges, and rivers. I love the silos. Some more interesting things were a beaver lodge.. but we didn't see any beavers, but we did look for them. A really neat red light, portable. Now doesn't that make alot of sense. The latest in landscape elements, the wind turbine, is popping up everywhere. I would love to have one in Ellijay to provide our power.

Vermont has lots of covered bridges and so we managed to find alot of them. They were tucked everywhere and along with the bridges we managed to find a Maple Sugar House. The lady was so nice when we pulled up and asked her if she was open. A lot of the Maple Sugar houses are privately owned by families who own the property and make the syrup. She said she would be glad to show us their "factory" if we'd like to see it. I was amazed at how syrup is made. I still thought that they put the little tin pales at the tree to collect the sap. Not so... they have tubing that goes from tree to tree and a vacuum draws it down to their collector tank. All of the tanks and cooking vats are stainless steel and I never would have thought inside their barn they had all of this equipment. She showed us everything and then offered us to taste the different kinds of syrup. That was especially nice and also not what I thought. The light to dark amber syrup is all equal, the color is determined by the weather/temperature. Each time they make syrup they keep a sample and they were just beautiful sitting up in the window with the light coming through them. I hope to paint a picture of that. The taste test was also a surprise. I have always thought that the better syrup was the dark amber.... with the taste test my favorite was the "fancy", a very light amber, the darker the amber the stronger taste and I didn't like it nearly as much. So we learned all about the maple syrup industry and couldn't leave without buying some fancy maple syrup.

Worked our way back over to Burlington and went up the islands of Lake Champlain. It was really nice and I love the older houses up North. They have such charm. We don't have anything like them down here. We left Vermont at the Canadian border and crossed over into New York again. Now we were on our way home.

Once we make the turn from being "on the way to" to "on the way back" it changes my mind to start wanting to get home. I start thinking more about the kids and Toby and, and.... we are a little more direct about our directions. We really are having fun with our camper... Terry drove 2800 miles on this trip. When we were driving out Old Bucktown Road to our home we both were looking at the beautiful leaves and Tickenettlely Creek by our home.. decided that the leaves are just as pretty here as they are anywhere!

Take care... Sally

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's Starting... Fall

Well the crisp, cool, clean air is back. I was looking out my kitchen window and there it was.... fall. Just a little more color than I thought that there had been when we arrived on Sunday. I love fall with the warmth coming from the fire in the evenings and the days where you can wear a light sweater and jeans. I'm really not a summer person. I'm now able to tackle the weeds in the flower bed and get them cleaned up. When it's hot I just don't do good with the weeds and bugs. So I thought you would enjoy these early fall pictures.

The first picture was as we were leaving down by the gate and the second one out in the back looking up the mountain.

Had to share my gourds. I picked the ones where the stems had turned brown, they are all different shapes this year. I have plans for the round one, believe it's called a cannon ball gourd. We'll see if they dry properly and don't go yucky.

Take care, Sally.....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away Come Again Some Other Day!

Boy have we really had the rain! We came up to the mountains on Sunday and it started raining that night and hasn't stopped. Ellijay made the news with flooding of the rivers and creeks. This summer our little creek would dry up in the heat of the day and today it is nice and big. I really feel sorry for the people who are dealing with flooding. You are just so helpless when that raging river swells out of it's banks.

Terry has been watching our big pond and I have been watching our little fish pond come over the banks. Hopefully my fish will stay at the bottom of the pond. I think the hawk has been visiting my pond while we've been gone. My largest orange and black koi has disappeared... boo hoo!

I think of my mother always saying "survival of the fittest" as I noticed my fish disappearing. That made me think of other little sayings that she would tell my sister and I... "Pretty is as pretty does", when she was trying to emphasize something regarding our behavior. I was talking to a friend about how important your parents are. They really do influence the direction of your path. Hope that I am teaching important things that someday my kids will say, ... my mother use to say... and right now I can't think of anything that I say. That's not a good sign.

I decided that I needed to walk around outside and see what all of the wetness was doing. I think when it has rained a bunch one of the things that you notice are the mushrooms. They pop up everywhere and on my walk I began to see all kinds of neat mushrooms. Along the path that I was walking it looked like a deer had gone in front of me and was pulling them up and then eating some.
The first one that I saw was down by the garden tucked into the grass and weeds, a white one that had alot of the pretty flutting.
Then the mushrooms that looked like they had been pulled up. First the brown one that was upturned and had a bulb at the bottom of the stem.

This mushroom was small but had a really long thin stem. Also a different mushroom from the others I'd seen, but it too, had been pulled up.

The one thing that all of this rain has done (and it's not just the recent rain) is the weeds in the garden have gone completely crazy. When I walk in the garden they are as tall as I am. I was picking okra but think I'm not wanting to even go in there anymore till the cold knocks it down. I haven't seen weeds like this before, I guess they loved the fertilizer we put on the garden.

You can also see the gourds growing on the fence and I thought I'd give you a close up. One is a cannon ball gourd and the others are bottle type gourds. They are still blooming like crazy too. I thought that the blooms were pretty too.

This is what Terry hates when it rains and washes out the driveway. The inlet end of the pipe was completely covered with mud, so he had to open it up again. We were lucky though, Terry doesn't have too much to fix and you can see I saw lots of pretty sites that the rain helps to create.
Terry's view of the rain is the driveway... my view is the wet woods that feels so damp but looks so sparkling clean.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Home Sweet Home...

It's great to be home in Ellijay. We got to get Toby and he was thrilled that we were home. What was so funny was that I had brought Pat a little red bag with a thank you present in it... Toby thought I had brought him a present. So he kept knudging me to give him the bag and he was so excited about the present. When I gave it to Pat he acted like I'd made a mistake and wanted her to give it to him. He did this because I always buy him toy animals, he has a whole zoo. I don't ever spend but a dollar or two at Big Lots for them but I really see how spoiled he is with them after the little present for Pat.

I will start back up at Mackinaw Bridge, Michigan about our trip. We stayed there two nights and really enjoyed it. When you cross over the bridge you are in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I really don't understand how that State got divided like it is because the Upper Peninsula seems like it should become Wisconsin.. oh well, that's what they decided.

We were heading for Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan and Canada. This is where the Soo Locks are and Lake Huron is connected to Lake Superior. There is a beautiful park where the locks are and they have stands for viewers to watch the boats go through the locks. It is all very interesting. Here you can see the boat coming in and then after the lock is filled with water, raising the boat to the level of Lake Superior to make the transition out.

We stopped at a diner to eat and when we pulled in the truck next to us had a Gwinnett County tag. So Terry goes in and decides which table is from Gwinnett. His choice was wrong the lady and man sitting at the first table he asked said no, but the next table with the two biker looking guys said... we are. They invited him to have a seat but he declined because of me. They were from Lilburn and own a motorcycle shop there. Just so happens that when we pulled in to stay the night at a campground outside of Newberry, MI they were there. They had their big truck toy hauler and a large motor home along with two Harleys.

The next morning we were up early and off to Tahquamenon Falls and Whitefish up on Lake Superior. The falls were beautiful and had a very nice trail that went to the Upper Falls and then also to the lower falls. The falls have alot of tannin in the water giving them a brown cast at times depending on the light. The water is so treacherous there and they must have alot of people getting hurt in this area. Then when you get to the lower falls and the lake below it is so peaceful.

The next stop was Whitefish where there was a "beach"! Who would have thought that the Great Lakes had beautiful sand beaches. No shells but really pretty colorful rocks and we found some rock gathers. We actually became rock gathers too. We asked this couple, who were really into rock collecting, what kind of rock were they looking for. Winds up it was agate. The man showed us a good one he'd found so that was all it took for us to start looking. We managed to find pockets and arms to carry quite alot back to the camper.

Just loved this little boy. He (and his dad) had gathered driftwood and made a fort. He proudly posed for me in front of his creation. Our day at the beach was really nice. Hard to believe that this is in Michigan.

We needed to get on up the road or down I guess, so we headed to towards Wisconsin. We camped in Michigan but very close to Wisconsin on Lake Michigan. The camp, No-nah-mah Resort was on property that had been originally the site of a timber company. The small canals connected to the lake were used to hold the timber before it was processed. There was a beautiful copper incinerator that looked like a silo there. On the way though there we were trying to escape a storm. The clouds were really scarry! Poor Terry the storm caught up with us when we arrived at the camp to register.

Terry says this incinerator isn't copper but it sure looks like it to me. The lady at the camp said that it was built in the early nineteen hundreds. Terry took this picture and I love the reflection in the water.

So it's a pretty day and we're off again, or as Terry says "Were on the road again".

The next place we stayed the night was Illinois Beach State Park. It was just north of Chicago and very nice, we could see the "beach" Lake Michigan from our camper site. Then we headed to Chicago which was a nightmare. It took us 3 hours to go about 80 miles because I think they have the worst traffic ever. Atlanta is bad but nothing compared to Chicago. Finally we hit the Indiana state line and my visit with my mother's family. That was just wonderful.

All along the way we're seeing huge wind turbine farms that they are building in Indiana and beautiful farms sprinkled across the countryside. After leaving Indiana we thought we would go a secondary road down through Kentucky. Big Mistake! It took forever, twisting and turning with roads being worked on and detours; but it's still seeing pretty country. I think you get a little more anxious about getting home once you're headed that way.

We spent the final night in Berea, Kentucky, we enjoyed that stop on our way up. In Old Town there they had open studios you could go through and we enjoyed looking at the furniture craftsmen, weavers, glass blowers and other artisans.

Well we got home about 6:30 pm and hurried to get our puppy. We're home and there is truly no place like home. Georgia is a beautiful state and we don't need to take a back seat to any other state. Now we've got to get back to Snellville today and our kids and grandkids.... we really do miss them.

Take care. Sally...