I like a little
coffee with my marshmallow
New Years Eve java
I like a little
coffee with my marshmallow
New Years Eve java
I’m an amateur photographer at most. The busyness of my life and my scattered interests has not made it easy for me to focus in detail on the more technical aspects of photography; but in some ways I’ve delved a little deeper into the world of pictures this year. A while back, I experimented with transforming some of my color photos into black and white. This simple act produced more than one aha moment as in many cases, I could actually see more depth in my photos in black and white than I could in color. At the very least, it altered the dimension in such a way that it gave me a different perspective on the experience I had when I took the photo. Some of my favorite transformations are below.
While chilly air plays
in my hair a three-year-old
runs alongside me
teaching “me” how to
ride his tricycle. Awkward.
are Christmas moments
we remember and cherish.
Merry Christmas, All!
Recently, I took a day trip to Charleston with a couple of friends. It was not our original plan, to be honest. We had originally planned to go hiking in Dupont Forest. Mother Nature had other ideas, however, and it rained at Dupont during the time of our trip. It did not, however, rain on the coast that day so we re-calculated and went to Charleston instead- which of course was still a lovely day.
On our excursion, we stayed around the downtown Charleston area. There is so much to do in that area that we found plenty of sites to see on our day trip. A friend of mine arrived prepared, having printed a map of downtown Charleston, and from there we made our selections. We parked near Waterfront Park and met at the Pineapple Fountain. From there, we wandered down to Rainbow Row then decided to tour the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.
Afterwards, we started looking around for a place to eat. One of my friends was a vegetarian so we walked from restaurant to restaurant reading menus on windows until we settled on the Sweetwater Cafe. I had a delicious tuna melt on sourdough with a side salad and sweet tea. My friends both had breakfast dishes. We discussed our next move over lunch. The City Market was close by so we decided to go there next. There were hundreds of vendors at the market with a plethora of unique and beautiful items, including the famed sweetwater baskets of Charleston. I bought a couple of small gifts. I might have bought more but I was traveling on foot and knew that I would have to carry the bags.
After the City Market, we went to visit the horses. Charleston, like so many historic cities, offers carriage tours. We had heard that the public was welcome to visit the horses-carriage ride or not-just to say hello so we found a stable and met this beautiful guy, who was resting when we stopped by.
The remainder of our trip was pretty much a self-guided walking tour to view old buildings that we thought might be of interest. We saw some churches
and an old prison.
We also saw some beautiful historic homes. One thing I loved about Charleston is that, even though the homes are beautiful, they aren’t always uniform. There’s a “Charleston style” that carries throughout the city, but I literally saw homes side by side of different styles and colors, and the effect was charming.
Before we ended our day, we treated ourselves to a Belgian Gelato. I chose chocolate hazelnut. It was delish! Full of gelato, we wandered back to our cars and prepared for the drive home. I looked at my phone and saw that we had walked 7 miles throughout the day. I guess we got in our hike, anyway.
One of my favorite photos from my trip to NYC is the simple one below from the Lindt chocolate store. The little round balls of soft chocolate just ooze happiness and the colors remind me of Christmas.
Old Baldy, located on beautiful Bald Head Island, turned 200 years old in 2017. The longest standing lighthouse in North Carolina, Baldy was originally built to mark the entrance of the Cape Fear River.
According to the website Baldy has:
108 steps and five landings with a ladder into the lantern room.
It is 110 feet tall with one door and six windows.
I climbed the lighthouse about a month ago. So far, I’ve been to three of North Carolina’s seven main lighthouses and Old Baldy is the first one I’ve been able to climb. The panoramic view from the top was breathtaking and an amazing reward for all of the huffing and puffing it took to get there.
Bald Head Island can be reached by ferry which leaves from the Deep Point Marina out of Southport. Once on the island, you can get around by foot (the island is 4.8 miles long and 2 miles wide) or bike or you can rent a cart. There are restaurants on the island (I stopped in at Mojo’s on my trip), walking trails, beach access and a conservancy that features events like kayaking, surf fishing, touch tanks, birding and even stargazing after dark.
BHI is a tiny island with a lot to offer if you are looking for an interesting, relaxing and unique day trip.
I traveled to the Oak Island Lighthouse a few weeks ago. It was a Sunday afternoon, I wanted to get out the house, and I remembered that I’d been planning to visit the lighthouse, which was a little less than an hour’s drive from my home, for quite a while. As I drove through the rural route that would take me to the lighthouse, I remember thinking, I would never live out here, because there didn’t appear to be much to do. I would see things a little differently once I reached my destination.
The light from the lighthouse, located on Caswell Beach Rd on Oak Island, can be seen for 16 miles. It’s rather exciting to see it flashing in the distance as you approach the beach. The lighthouse was built in 1957 to replace a steel lighthouse on Bald Head Island (Bald Head and Oak Island are very close to one another) and when it was first lit in 1958, carbon-arc mercury lamps, which were used prior to incandescent lights, provided so much light that it was the brightest in the United States and the second brightest in the world. The light is currently powered by a 1,000 watt halogen bulb and displays 4 one second flashes then 6 seconds of blank. It stands 153 feet tall and has 131 steps that can be climbed to reach an outside balcony, although you must schedule a time to climb the lighthouse. It is not open during any set hours.
It is very easy to access because it sits just by the road. There is a tiny parking lot directly in front of the lighthouse with free parking for 30 minutes. I saw another public access parking lot just down the road. Across the street is a walkway onto Caswell Beach. After I poked around the lighthouse, I crossed the street to check out the beach. It was super quiet compared to the beaches where I live, and I saw several pelicans flying so close to the shore that I could actually make out their little pelican faces. I glanced behind me to see the flashes from the lighthouse, and it occurred to me how fortunate the locals are to live so close to such a quiet beach adorned with their own personal lighthouse. Ok, I thought, maybe I would live here.
On the south end of Ft Fisher, there is an area designated for people to take 4-wheeled drives onto the beach. A lot of fishermen use the access. As a child, I went down there with my family. My father and one of my uncles both owned 4-wheeled drive vehicles, my dad a Bronco, my uncle a Jeep. The adults would find wading pools for the children to play in while the men fished. I remember those outings with contentment and happiness. Some of my best memories.
While visiting the beach a few weeks back, I ventured down to the south end on foot, eventually walking along the access between the dunes. I got this picture of tire tracks in the sand with the dunes behind them. Layers between the dunes.
The picture below was taken the same day. I loved the view of the sun shining over the dune.
When I take a staycation, I always try to strike a balance with my time. That is to say that part of my time I devote to recreational pursuits, things that I always say I want to do but never seem to have the time to do, and productive pursuits, those items on my to-do list that need to be done but never seem to make it to the top of the list. If I can strike a balance of both recreation and productivity during a week off at home then I don’t consider it a waste of vacation hours.
One of the items on on my recreation list was to visit Cameron Art Museum, a local art museum in my city. I work very close to the museum and have said several times that I wanted to go back through it (I toured it years ago), but despite my close proximity, I had not been back to the museum to tour the galleries. One afternoon, on my week off, I returned to the museum. Ironically, not all of their galleries were open that day so I guess I will have to go back again. But I did see a few nice things.
The picture above is by Minnie Evans. a folk artist who lived in Wilmington, NC. The inspiration for her art came from her dreams as a young girl. I actually had the privilege of meeting her briefly when I was a girl and she was an older woman. Her story is pretty fascinating if you would like to read more about it at the link above.
This 2nd piece is by an artist named Claude Howell, titled appropriately “Sorting Fish”. It’s a little difficult to tell in my picture, but this is a ceramic tile mosaic. I’m in awe of people who have the patience and ability to create something like this.
Below are some other beautiful pieces I saw at the museum that afternoon.
Even though I did not get to tour every gallery that day, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I think sometimes less can be more, anyway. Part of the fun of viewing art is taking the time to appreciate each piece. With less pieces to view, I took my time with each one.
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.
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.