Special Gathering, Special Place, Special Person

Yesterday, Motor Man and I attended a gathering for current and former staff members at Bacon’s Castle .

You all know how special that old house is to me. (If you’re new to the blog, click on the Bacon’s Castle category to the right to read previous posts.)

I was an interpreter (tour guide) at the Castle for one season in 2000. But, my connections to the house go back much further than that.

And my son, Marshall, was a guide there for ten years, beginning in 2000.

When he and I worked there, the site director was a wonderful lady named Frances.  When Marshall first joined the staff, he was the only guy, and many of the ladies there treated him as a grandson.

So Frances became very special to our family. She granted Motor Man and me permission to be married at Bacon’s Castle and presided over the guest book at our ceremony.

Frances retired from the Castle several years ago, but Marshall and I keep in touch with her and frequently take her out for breakfast.

And yesterday, Frances was at the staff members’ gathering.  Her birthday is Tuesday, so we surprised her with a cake. She will be 91 years young.

The cake was decorated with a photo of the Castle (the one at the beginning of this blog post), and Frances was tickled and more than a little amazed that this could be done.

At the end of the cookout, the employees and their families posed for a photo on the front steps.

And, of course, I had to have my picture taken with the birthday girl.

She has plans on her actual birthday, so Marshall and I are looking forward to celebrating with her in the near future.

~These Days Of Mine~






Here We Go Again

We’re expecting a very unwelcome visitor intruder today.  Yes, Hurricane Dorian began knocking on our southeast door last night. He kept us awake quite a bit.

I’ve shared several posts in the past about hurricanes, some recent ones that we’ve experienced just in the years that I’ve been blogging. In no particular order: Irene, Hermine, Florence, Sandy, Joaqun, Harvey, Julia and Matthew. Of course, all of those weren’t major storms by the time they reached us.  And some affected the Outer Banks much more than where we live in southeast Virginia.

So, in anticipation of Dorian’s arrival, yesterday afternoon, Motor Man and I battened down the hatches, made sure we had plenty of water, food, etc, took down the bird feeders and hanging plants. AND…

We ratcheted our old boat to the even older cedar tree in our side yard.

We were given that old boat a little over ten years ago and placed it by that old cedar.  It’s seen a couple of weddings, several family reunions and a couple of “poker run parties”.  And, it’s also seen its share of hurricanes, snowfalls and nor’easters.

This picture was taken in the aftermath of one of those storms, in which we lost a good portion of the cedar. It’s a good thing Motor Man had secured the boat: during the storm, the wind and high tide moved it perpendicular to its original location.

So, Dorian, please hang a right VERY  soon.

We hope the old boat (and the cedar) are around for many more years.

*After writing this, it occurred to me that it’s rather frivolous of me to be writing about a boat and a tree after so much devastation in the Bahamas and the states south of us.  We’re definitely keeping all those affected by Dorian close in thought.

~These Days Of Mine~




Poetic Thursday: The Hitchhiker

Once again this week, I’m participating in Poetic Thursday with Pam and her two “boys” over at Two Spoiled Cats.

Each Thursday, they provide a photo as inspiration and invite their readers to write a poem, based on the photo, and share it in comments on the blog post the following Thursday.

This is the photo for today’s poem:

And here is my poem:

The Hitchhiker

We look at this picture and feel sadness and fear
and can’t help but wonder how you came to be here.

Bad people, bad choices, or no fault of your own?
Family? Friends? Do they know you’re alone?

Your pile of belongings there by your side;
will you trust anyone who offers a ride?

Or….maybe the scene is about to start,
And you’re just an actress playing the part?

If you’d like to see “Angel Sammy’s” poem, as well as those submitted by Pam’s readers, you can visit her blog here.

~These Days Of Mine~


Early Morning Ballooning

Motor Man and I first met Mark, our friend who has a hot air balloon business, back in 2013. Since that time, we’ve gone for three balloon rides and been at many launches and landings.

We enjoy meeting Mark’s passengers, most of whom have never been in a hot air balloon.  I take pictures of them in the basket before their flight and sometimes after the landing.  And, of course, I take pictures during the flight.  I usually get their email address and send the best photos to them. And Motor Man usually helps with the launch. (It’s rather involved.)

Although Mark has flown many times in our area, most people have never seen the balloon in flight.  Perhaps that’s because he prefers to fly early in the morning, just around or a little after sunrise. So it’s always fun to see folks stopping, sometimes pulling over on the shoulder of the road, to watch.

I thought I’d share some pictures from recent balloon flights.

This is one of Mark’s balloons; he named it “Spectrum”. It’s a beautiful balloon, or “envelope”, as it’s called.

One of the most fun experiences we’ve had was a few weeks ago, early in the morning. Mark was flying the balloon very low.  If you’ve never seen a hot air balloon in flight, you may not realize that it is SO quiet, except for the occasional few seconds when the burner is activated. This was an overpass on a country road, with thankfully, no traffic. (The white van is Mark’s “chase vehicle”, being driven by a ground crew member, and it was stopped, as were we.)

It doesn’t happen with every flight, but it’s always fun when the  balloon flies directly over us.

With so many of the flights being at sunrise, it’s easy to get really pretty photos.

And water reflections are always nice.

There are opportunities when the balloon is low enough that you can actually see and talk with (and wave to) the passengers.

What we do is called “chasing the balloon”… we’re watching for it  and driving in the direction we think it will land.  That isn’t always easy: we often lose sight of it,  and the roads don’t always go in the direction we need.

And as much as everyone loves a balloon flight, there’s one aspect that similar to a plane flight: it’s always good to have a nice, smooth landing.

Here’s a short video I took of a recent launch.  That’s Motor Man’s voice you hear at the beginning. (Make sure your speakers are on.)

I know hot air ballooning isn’t for everyone, but if you ever have the chance to go….

~These Days Of Mine~





The Plane, The Plane!

A couple of weeks ago, Motor Man and I learned that seaplane rides would be offered Labor Day weekend at Smithfield Station, a local restaurant/hotel/marina. We immediately knew it was something we’d like to do.

We were waiting on the dock when the plane arrived Friday afternoon.

And after we had donned our life vests, had our picture taken. We wore headsets during the flight, so we could talk with each other and our pilot, Marc.

It was such a beautiful day for flying. There are so many tributaries in our area, which of course, look very different from the air.

We flew right by our house.  Marc even circled around a second time, so I could get plenty of pictures.

I took a short video of our landing back at Smithfield Station. It was smooth as silk.

Flying in a seaplane was something that neither of us had ever thought about, but it was a great experience.

~These Days Of Mine~






The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, And The Irony

Today, I share the latest in the ongoing war between my plants and the deer and rabbits.

First : The GOOD.  I had one volunteer sunflower this year.  (Most likely a bird “planted” it as a result of the nearby bird feeders.) And thankfully, it chose to grow in an old enamel coffeepot on our deck (safe location from critters). What makes it even nicer is that I had “that old moss” already planted in that pot.  I think it makes a sweet combo.

Sunflowers are SO cheery.

Another item in the “GOOD” category: this mandevilla I planted earlier in the season has done really well. The tag said that it was the climbing variety, so I thought it would be pretty on this old trellis. Obviously, this is a mounding variety instead, but it’s obviously happy.  On the deck, it’s safe from the “critters”.

Next: the BAD. This spring, I had bought a beautiful hanging basket of purslane in shades of a pretty coral color. Thinking I had come up with a simple, but effective deer fence (one strand of monofilament fishing line strung about 3 feet off the ground), it had thrived all summer. Sadly, I don’t have a before pic.  I believe this is the work of two young fawn, who obviously fit UNDER the fishing line fence. This was ONE night’s work last week.  I’ve since moved it to the safety of the deck, hoping it will bloom again before frost.

And: The UGLY.  One of my favorite plants is a cypress vine (or hummingbird vine).  I first saw it growing at Bacon’s Castle on an old wooden fence.  The vine itself is so sweet and dainty, and the flowers are tiny, star shaped blooms in red, pink and white – all on the same vine.

Every year, I have a couple of these to volunteer from seeds I planted several years ago. This year, the two that volunteered chose a difficult location: immediately beside one of our deck posts. Motor Man helped me modify one of the cages that he had previously made for me, cutting it to make it semi-circular. If you look closely, you can see that dainty little vine, twining up the black trellis.

And I had ONE tiny white bloom.

There was a very small space between the post and the cage. And…..evidently, one  of the baby bunnies I’ve recently spotted discovered that tiny space. The next morning, the bloom and much of the vine was gone.

So….. I used rocks and fishing line to close up that hole.

Finally: the IRONY. You’re probably already thinking that I’ve created something very ugly to protect something so pretty.

Further IRONY,  I chased away the neighborhood cat yesterday as she was plotting to attack one of the baby bunnies.

~These Days Of Mine~




Poetic Thursday: The Recital

Once again this week, I’m participating in Poetic Thursday with Pam and her two “boys” over at Two Spoiled Cats.

Each Thursday, they provide a photo as inspiration and invite their readers to write a poem, based on the photo, and share it in comments on the blog post the following Thursday.

This was our photo for this week’s inspiration:

The Recital

White dress, hair bow and a booster seat;
A pedal extender for her feet.

Her first recital was a formal affair,
Parents and grandparents were so proud to be there.

She practiced for weeks for this special night
And gave no thought to the dreaded stage fright.

Her performance complete, everyone stood:
“Bravo!” ‘Chopsticks’ never sounded so good!

My poem last week was heartfelt and serious, so this week, I went for something fun. I’m sure this little girl is an accomplished pianist, and I don’t mean to make light of her talent.

Be sure to visit Two Spoiled Cats today to read Angel Sammy’s and their readers’ poems.

~These Days Of Mine~