Staycation Days: Hurricane Irma

I work for a company that allows me to carry over 40 hours of vacation time each year. That means that in the last quarter of the year, I generally take a little time off to eat up some of my surplus hours so that I don’t lose any of them. This week, I took some of that time. I recently took a trip to New York and want to take another trip out west next spring so I decided to use the time this week to work on projects around the house, go on local outings, etc.

 

Hurricane Irma ate up the first couple of days of my staycation. She didn’t hit us directly, she hit to the south and west of us, but she was so massive that we could still feel her effects from the distance. I’ve lived on the coast all of my life except for about 5 years when I was in Raleigh, NC. And even while I was there, Hurricane Fran ripped through the center of the state and hit the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill).  As a hurricane vet, I generally feel well prepared for a Category 2 or below, even the average Cat 3. I know what to expect. Irma, which wobbled east to west and back and forth as a Cat 4 to Cat 5, was a different beast and she commanded my attention. I secured items in my yard and stocked up on snacks, water and gas. I got my pet carriers out and watched the weather diligently in the days preceding the storm, waiting with anticipation to see if there was any chance she might decide to hit the coast of NC as a 4 or 5, a sign that it may be time to evacuate.

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We were fortunate in my area. She hit well to the west of us and we only received some rain and  wind gusts of about 35 mph. I visited a pier at Wrightsville Beach as Irma pummeled Florida and South Carolina just to see the effects that the storm might have on the ocean. Even from a distance, she made her presence known. Gusts of wind pushed me forward and around as I climbed the stairs to the pier. My sunglasses, which were clipped to shirt, flew away into the ocean. Loose sand flew across the beach to blast those walking in its path. White caps surfed across the water.

 

Today, as I sit on my back porch, the sun is out and the air is calm. There is no sign of Irma here, but I know that in the Caribbean, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia, the effects still linger in the trail of destruction that she left behind. Nature is beautiful but she is also a force to be reckoned with. God bless those who were in her path.

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Last of the streaming sun

Ooh, shiny

Sunsets occur everyday and yet, I never tire of them. Without fail, I am entranced by the clockwork rainbow of pink and orange,  yellow and blue, violet and twilight streaming across the the sky.

I experienced the sunset below on one of my afternoon excursions to the beach. I was in mid-sentence talking with a friend when I stopped and said, “Look at that one. The sky is showing off tonight”.

The sun itself is not seen in the picture, but you can see its determined efforts to make its presence known as light streamed through invisible holes in the atmosphere like spotlights on a stage.

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Daily Prompt: Bumble

via Daily Prompt: Bumble

I don’t spend as much time in my yard as I need to. I hate it, but I’m single, I work a lot and I run out of time. The people who lived in my home before me were retired and spent countless hours in the yard. They planted so many azalea bushes that in the springtime when they blossom, it’s like an azalea wonderland. They also planted mimosa trees and a variety of flowers. I don’t even know what some of the flowers are. I’ve literally had people come over to visit and admiringly ask, “What kind of flower is that?” to which I have often replied, “I don’t know. It just popped up”.

It’s amazing to me that these flowers keep popping up. I’ve been in this home for over a decade and have planted barely anything new (although I do currently have some marigolds in a pot waiting to go into the ground and I’ve decided I want a pine tree in the back) yet every year flowers continue to blossom in my yard. The soil is dark, I trim things back and sometimes I weed, but that’s it. I’m very fortunate. They are beautiful. Maybe one day I will have the time to give them the care they deserve. Or maybe they are doing just fine with what I’ve been offering.

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Yesterday, I came home from work and glanced over at my shed to notice, once again, something new. Vibrant pink flowers, some dead or dying and some brand new. I snapped a picture and sent it to both a friend of mine and my mother in the hopes that one of them would know what it was. Look, I texted, another new flower. My friend simply commented at the marvelous color but my mother offered the idea that it may be a day lily. I googled it and it appears that I probably do have day lilies. Day lily blossoms live, sadly, for only one day but the flowering stalk produces lots of blossoms which explains why I saw both brand new blossoms and dying flowers on the same stalk.

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In my day lily googling adventure and in an effort to tie this in somehow to the daily post for bumble, I started looking into whether bees like day lilies. They do, but it appears that butterflies like them better.

I did find this adorable article about how bees sleep in flowers, though! I never knew that. I didn’t even know that bees slept. How precious. But of course they do, everything thing sleeps. I’ll be looking for it now.  Stay tuned for pictures of bees sleeping in flowers in the future 🙂

Have a great night all and hang in there, it’s almost Friday!

Carolina Beach State Park

July 4th was a busy day for me. I couldn’t sleep and woke up before dawn. I used the time to watch the sunrise on the beach then I called my 75-year-old father, who I figured would be up, to go to breakfast. After breakfast, we drove down to Carolina Beach State Park. I’ve been wanting to check out CB park for a while, and now I want to go back.

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Carolina Beach State Park is 761 acres large along the Cape Fear River and Snow’s Cut which is part of the Intracoastal waterway. There are 8 hiking trails scattered throughout the park ranging from .35 mile to 3 miles long: 6 miles of hiking trails total. All are sandy terrain and considered easy.

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A marina provides access to boating and fishing. Campsites tailored toward both families and groups feature amenities such as picnic tables, grills and fire rings. There are some cabins available for reservation and restrooms with hot showers are located nearby.

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On my trip to CB State Park, we hiked part of the Sugarloaf Trail which travels through the marsh along the river. We saw waterbirds along the way and several fiddler crabs crossed our path as we made our way along the route. I have intentions of going back with a picnic lunch and hiking the trail to the Sugarloaf Dune which I hear offers an excellent view.

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Definitely check this park out if you are in the area. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

 

 

Moore’s Creek

I squeezed in a historical excursion today. Moore’s Creek National Battlefield, located in Currie NC, is the site of the first influential victory by the Patriots in the American Revolution. The battle, which took place on February 27, 1776, ended British authority in the colony and empowered North Carolina to be the first colony to declare independence. The Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge as well as the Battle of Sullivan’s Island close to Charleston, SC were the first open conflicts of the American revolution and led to the Thirteen colonies declaring Independence on July 4, 1776. (Wikipedia)

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Today, the 87-acre park has reenactments, a tour of the battlefield and a visitor center which offers videos, displays and other educational opportunities.

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On the grounds, a History Trail (0.7 mile) follows a walk across Moore’s Creek and features several monuments. The Patriot Monument honors John Grady, the only Patriot killed in the battle. A Loyalist Monument honors those who supported the British cause who “did their duty as they saw it” and another monument honors women in the region for the roles that they played in the American Revolution. The Tarheel Trail  (0.3 mile) begins near the end of the History Trail.

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It was an informative trip for me as I did not realize what an important role NC played in the American Revolution. I’m sure I learned it in school a looooong time ago, but it was nice to have the reminder. It was also a really beautiful place to walk. I even saw some friends along the way.

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Breathwork and Baby Pines

This past year, a friend recruited me to be a part of an online meditation group led by a friend of hers who teaches yoga in Costa Rica. I’m not an expert yogi, but I do attend yoga classes from time to time and I always experience a sense of calm when I do yoga. Something about the stillness and the stretching wrings out my tension and gives me a sense of peace.

Recently Ashley, the instructor from Costa Rica, was in the US. She has ties to my hometown and stopped in to teach a few classes on breathwork at a local studio. I had never taken a class focused solely on breathwork, but I like to try new things so I attended one of the sessions. Before the class, Ashley asked me if I had an intention, something on which I wanted to focus during the class. I shrugged.

“There are a few uncertain changes going on at work,” I said.

“Well, that is something you can think about,” she answered.

When the class started, I didn’t focus on anything, at first, except for breathing. The idea of breathwork, as I understand it, is to breathe fully in a circular motion, from the diaphragm, through your chest and out of your mouth then back. We breathed in the air through our mouths and we exhaled out of our mouths. Ashley asked us to breath throughout our entire body. I imagined the air moving from my feet through my legs into my belly and my chest, then up into my head and out of my mouth. At times, I was distracted by the sounds of other people breathing around me, but I focused on the breath. I started to imagine the breath as a circle, traveling the length of my body then looping to go back around. Somewhere along the way, I started to think about other things, but not about work, and my thoughts took me to the heart of something. I started thinking about how most people play it safe with other people. We share enough of ourselves to be seen as friendly, but little enough to protect ourselves from being hurt. I know I do. This prompted me to start thinking about forgiveness and letting things go.

After the class, Ashley paired us with a partner and we talked about our experience. I was paired with a woman on a mat behind me. We sat cross-legged on our mats and looked at one another. She was older than me and a little weathered. Her silver hair was cut in a very hip style and she had two of the most alert, smiling, clear blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I told her about my thoughts.

“Wow,” she said, “that’s very similar to what I was working on.” And she shared some things about herself with me.

Before we left, Ashley suggested that it might be a good day to spend some time in nature since we were already in reflective moods. That worked well for me as I was already going for a walk.

I went to a local park, Hugh McRae Park, and walked for about 45 minutes. Hugh McRae is filled with established pine trees, but as I walked, I noticed that the park has planted new pines, as well. Several baby pines were nestled among the older pines. The scene of pines filled me with pleasure and I stopped for a while to look at them. Now, that I look back on it, I know why they made me happy. Not only were the pines a bright, happy green and quite pretty, but they were new little lives releasing oxygen back into the air. Breathing their own cycle like me. There was a sort of synchronicity to finding them right after my breathwork. Pretty cool.

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Sunflower

It’s Father’s Day and I’m making my rounds. This morning I had breakfast and a visit with my step-father and this evening there is a cookout for my dad.

I discovered this sunflower in my mother’s garden while visiting my step-father this morning.

Sunflowers symbolize many things, among them happiness, good fortune and loyalty which seems a fitting tribute to the dads.

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They are also symbols of spirituality and worship.

This sunflower served as my inspiration for the “bright” haiku challenge:

Face of a daisy

Bright golden-rayed worshipper

Standing in the light

 

Have a peaceful Sunday, all!