17 August 2016

My Life In Pictures...

Top to bottom // left to right:

// Found an amazing building in Asheville that used to house a Greek restaurant.  It had a chandelier in the stairway.  A chandelier!  And that turquoise color on everything.  I couldn't resist taking a slew of photos and then having one taken of me in my awkward glory.
// Fingernail and quarter moons = all my love.
// Another thing that has my heart?  This dog.  My Tullah Belle!
// Why a picture of me laying in a hospital room with my denim clad butt in the air?  Welllllll, the most random freaking thing ever happened at work the other day.  When I slid across one of our old church pews that serves as wall seating my dress caught a small edge of wood and turned it into a 1 & 3/4 inch long hunk of splinter that slid into my thigh like a hot knife through butter.  I had to get the thing surgically removed and a tetanus shot to boot!  Not how I imagined my Monday morning.
// Mr. Booker Man Cat in all his handsome glory.  Seriously, this cat is so sweet and so soft and so funny.  He ran away over a year ago from his original owners a few blocks over and ended up becoming our cat.  Now, we didn't know he wasn't a stray and they didn't know he'd set up a new life til he visited them when we were in Puerto Rico (he's never warmed up to our house sitter and will often camp out with our neighbor Joe when we're gone but we were all gone for 2 weeks and Booker Man wasn't having the house sitter be his only human so he snuck back to his old home) and they saw his name tag.  They were understandably upset and thought we'd kidnapped him (or they acted like that at least...understandably, I'd freak out m'self) until we told them he never came into the house of his own accord and that he's an outside kitty by choice so he'd not being held against his will.  He's free to come and go as he likes but he chooses to stay with us.  We've all reached a peaceful situation and Booker Man is happy where he is!
//  My two sweet friends at the sweets shoppe in Asheville.  How appropriate. :)
//  Weird thing found around athens #4858774305973.
//  Speaking of weird, I kept my splinter.  Since I'm going to have a nifty scar from the thing, I thought it'd be fun to have the cause for show and tell.  And to show my boss so she didn't think I went to the doctor for a lil ol' bitty splinter but rather than the toothpick sized log o' wood it was.
//  This lovely spider has taken up residency in an optimal corner of the porch and has single-handedly taken out a nest of wasps setting up shop there.  I don't kill things unless they're biting me so we leave critters like this outside (or inside) and let them do their things.
//  Right before my Asheville trip I caved in and got a manicure and pedicure.  It feels weird to see color on my fingers!  And I hate pedicures.  Don't touch my feet!  I'm sure the nail techs thought I was an uncomfortable weirdo while I was there...which I am/was.
//  A group of harvestmen, also known as daddy longlegs, huddled up on the porch escaping the rain.  I love these things!
//  Big chair in the middle of the country in northern GA.  Perfect.
//  Add goats to the long list of animals I freakin' love.

Happy 'day of Oden' or Wednesday to y'all!

14 August 2016

And They Call It Puppy Love...

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.
For me, they are the role model for being alive.
—Gilda Radner

Over the last 10 years I've watched as many of my dogs have grown older or became suddenly sick, and have left me to go wherever it is that we go when we die.  I've watered many a garden with my tears but it's never stopped me from adopting again.  Despite the pain of losing your animal companion there's nothing like the joy they bring to your life.  At least, that's my take on the matter.

Speaking of joy and aging critters, Miss Tullah Belle is still with us and is still doing fairly well considering the heart condition that slowly taking its toll on her tiny body.  Every single day I wake up with her butt snuggled somewhere on my person and it makes me so happy to know she's so comfortable and that she still needs my affection even in sleep.  Although I wake up at least 3-4 times a night with her and I haven't had an uninterrupted night of slumber in months, I will never not be glad to have this dog with me.  She's a constant shadow at my heels and a constant inspiration to be more patient, caring and, well, chill.  It's sometimes overwhelming to know that I'm responsible for a creature who trusts me implicitly and loves me unconditionally.  Really.

So, just a post to let you know that Miss Tullah is doing alright, is happy and is eating more treats (aka can kitty food) than one little chihuahua should reasonably have.  Life is good.  And lest I forget Mr. Winthrope, he's doing fantastic as always.  I'm a lucky gal.

It's also a post to remind you that if you have a dog, to look into their eyes and to appreciate their love and presence.  Our time with them is so short but their impact lasts a lifetime.

10 August 2016

Any Way You Like It...

Back in March of this year I was lucky enough to spend some quality time in a super cool house with some of my favorite people in the world.  And it just happened to be in Asheville, NC where I've found myself more and more as late.  Now, I'm not planning on moving there or anything (Portland, Maine and Bellingham, Washington have been my dream I-want-to-go-to-there-for-a-long-time spots) but I've found myself just randomly researching places to eat or things to do or maybe a show or something.  Anything to get up to the mountains where it's cooler and to give myself a change of scenery.  To add even more fuel to the visit Asheville fire, I now have two of my dearest old friends living up there!  Those are the best reasons to visit, am I right or am I right?

I was scheduled to visit those same dear friends last Monday with my visit lasting til Wednesday and while I got in a good 24 hours of time I, unfortunately, ran into some complications with my Airbnb (a pipe burst and flooded the whole place...yikes!) which shortened my visit by a whole day.  Boo!  But, hey, you roll with the punches.  So even though I made a long list of things to see and do, I only did a small bit of them.  Next time I'll finish it up because there will be a next time in the very near future.  Darn tootin'!

By the way, 'any which way you like it' is Asheville's motto.  Fits.

Food & Drink  
Of course I'm going to start this list with food and tea and bakeries and stuff.  Duh.

Dobra Tea House - Having been to their downtown location and having enjoyed a huge pot of Lapsang Souchong all on my own, this was one of my first stops for energy lifting.  Between the brew and the super food bowls (like the Westside Bowl featuring yummy things like homemade kimchi) and the matcha cheesecake, I rolled out the door in the best way possible.  Also good for gluten-free vegan friends, which I have.  Yay!

Rosetta's Kitchen - With my friend's vegan roommate joining us for dinner, we opted for this locale even though the menu is pretty similar to where I currently work.  In fact The Grit was the inspiration for this restaurant although the tastes do vary a good deal.  Service was quick and super friendly, and the vegan queso dip made my mouth very, very happy.  While I did not drink any booze stuff, others in my party did and they were making lots of groans of satisfaction.  Kombucha and alcohol combined apparently make some swoon worthy / excellent cocktails.  I'd go back here again for the atmosphere since it didn't really feel like you were in touristy downtown.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge - I read a lot of books set in the Regency era of England (yep, I do and it's a now-not-so-secret-indulgence) so when my friend Cater recommended, or demanded *cough*, that we stop by this place for some sipping chocolate I said 'oh, hell yes'!  We didn't stop there, oh no.  We got chocolate peanut butter mousse, goat cheese and pistachio cheesecake, and salted caramel ice cream so we could have the biggest sugar rush in the history of the world.  While I appreciate and love my little bakery, we are not fancy.  We are simple southern.  This is fancy stuff.  And sometimes I wish I could make this kind of dessert and have UGA students and punk train kids and weird locals eat it but I don't think the majority of them are interested in paying $5 for a small serving of gourmet confectionary delight.  So, I guess I'll just travel to Asheville and have the folks at French Broad Chocolate Lounge make it for me.

Biscuit Head - With one friend leaving in the wee hours of the A.M. to lead a group of kids hiking into the mountains and me right down the street from the main drag in West Asheville, we knew that a trip to Biscuit Head had to happen.  Even though they opened 10 minutes late and we were on a major time constraint, we had a great time here.  The coffee is fantastically dark and strong, the biscuits are delicious and the people are quick to help/serve.  I didn't get in on the jam/butter bar because that is not my thing but it looked interesting and folks in line were eyeballing it like crazy.  The addition of friendly finches on the back porch just added to the appeal.

Pampering & Healing

Asheville Salt Cave
 - Oooooh, this was awesome.  So awesome. This is the only Salt Therapy center in the United States made of all natural materials. The cave is made of salt, wood and water. The walls, ceiling and floor are covered in salt rock crystals weighing 6 ounces to 300 pounds each. They use two natural ionizers which feed the cave and make it a virtual sterile environment. The cave is a unique micro-climate, like those found in nature,  and it is sustainable and growing. No other salt therapy center in the United States can make this claim.  The amount of health benefits from the salt cave is staggering and I was excited to have a chance to do a little purification and to help my sinuses a bit.  I treated my friends to a visit and we all snoozed while laying on blankets and listening to a small waterfall.  BLISS.  We awoke refreshed and with clear sinuses and a craving for sipping chocolate.

Alyssa Spa - I've been very much about the self-care lately, hence the whole running-exercising-massage-crystal-salt-therapy happenings 'round here, and I knew I wanted to treat myself to a pampering facial in Asheville.  I chose this spa based on some reviews from Yelp and the like, and Alyssa was nice enough to come in on her day off to give me one of the most relaxing experiences of my life.  I seriously glowed when I left and I felt like a million dollars without my makeup on!  And, no, this isn't sponsored but just a heads-up to a sweet lady who will make your skin happy.

Herbiary - In search of natural oils and specialty blended loose leaf teas, I wandered into this shop and spent a couple of hours browsing, reading, chatting with the owner, getting special blends created for me, and having an overall great shopping experience.  I almost never spend a lot of money in specialty shops but I made an exception here and racked up some serious damage (for me, like, $50 is serious so keep that in mind) but I smell fantastic and my tummy loves the new teas I got.

Cornerstone Minerals - My love and interest for crystals, stones and gems has been lifelong but it's only recently that I find myself looking to by them to promote healing, change, etc.  There's something comforting knowing you have power drawing stones wrapped around your wrist or a blood cleansing stone nestled in your pocket.  At least, for me it is.  This part of my life is still new and interesting and a bit personal but it's there and we'll see where it goes.  Even if you don't believe in the power that minerals can have I think most of us agree that they are beautiful to look at and fun to collect.  This store, Cornerstone Minerals, is informative and full of varieties - win!

What a lot to cram into basically 36 hours.  But what fun!  And since I didn't get to everything I wanted, I thought I'd share with you this:

The 'I'll See It Next Time' List Of Asheville & Nearby

Well-Bred Bakery (Weaverville location) - While they have a location in south Asheville, I've wanted to go see where the original started 14 years ago.  This place has been voted best bakery in Asheville for a number of years now and their baked goods list is classic southern goodness.  That Salted Caramel Turtle Cake has my mouth watering and it's always a nice change to try someone else's sweets.  That means it's truly a vacation then!

Grail Moviehouse - Right now this local theater is showing Absolutely Fabulous (which Athens isn't because WHYYYYY?), Tickled and a rerelease of Blood Simple which is the Cohen brothers first movie.  With great movies like that, some food treats, booze for those who want it and comfy seats, you have winner winner chicken dinner.

Helen's Bridge - This bridge has a lot of varying ghost stories attached to it - scorned woman jumping to their death in some form or fashion...happy stuff, I know - so I thought it would be interesting to stop by and take a peek.  There's a ghost tour in Asheville but I'd rather explore on my own.

Asheville Pinball Museum - Ok, a bit of weird backstory of my life.  When I was a young kid, think 5 or 6, I became addicted to the KISS pinball machine in the game room at our local Holiday Inn restaurant.  Yes, the Holiday Inn way back when had a restaurant.  Yes, it had a game room.  Yes, I'm talking about KISS the band.  It was the most badass pinball machine ever to this sheltered southern gal (dudes in makeup?  shutup what?!?) and I religiously fed it quarters every single Sunday evening when we ate at the hotel as a family.  I got to be pretty damn good at playing it too!  Even though I grew up and now don't play that much if it all, my love of pinball has never died.  So the idea of paying a one time fee to play all the games I want on any machine I want (and mayyyyyybe they have a KISS one OH MY GOD!?!) makes a visit to the Pinball Museum a must-do-if-I-can.

Judaculla Rock -  Judaculla rock is an outcropping of soapstone, covered with hundreds of ancient carvings. The origin and meaning of these carvings is unknown. Archaeologists think that they were carved over the course of several centuries, beginning about five thousand years ago. But according to one legend, these markings in this huge boulder are the handiwork of a giant.  Technically, this is near Asheville since it's about 40 minutes outside the city but I'm including it regardless because close enough!

Hot Springs - In Hot Springs, NC just north of Asheville you'll find, wait for it, natural mineral hot springs in which to soak and heal and sweat for an hour all while looking out over the French Broad River.  It's a 100 degrees in Athens but it promises to be rainy and cooler while I'm in the mountains so I may be able to stand the heat and be able to relax in the tubs without heatstroke if I go within the next month.  Of course fall and winter are the optimal times.  Can you imagine sitting in steaming hot mineral water while snow piles up around you?  Sounds magical!

Paint Rock - A spot where Native American pictographs have survived for over 5000 years.  It's also very close to Hot Springs, NC where I want to go and steam out some of those I-ate-too-much-on-vacation-and-even-before-that impurities.

Alright, any suggestions you'd like to add?  I know many of y'all have been to Asheville.  Share some thoughts, memories or ideas in the comments!

04 August 2016

Athens Life & Adventures - The Roadside Subdivision Stonehenge

Years ago, when I first moved to Athens, I began my research on all the odd things to be found in and around the city.  If you've read the blog at all then y'all will know what I'm talking about.  There's the tree that owns itself.  A ghost town.  A shaking rock.  And, the most famous, the Georgia Guidestones which is kind of like the American version of Stonehenge.  Then I found out there is a mini Stonehenge right here in Athens!  What the what?  So.  Much.  Weird.  Stone.  Things.  Around.  Here.

I visited the area during a massive thunderstorm, which I had to wait out in the truck all while eating Triscuits (HOW GOOD ARE TRISCUITS?!? SO GOOD!) and reading this book, and so the dreary sky (which I really love that kind of weather) almost matched the grey of the stone.

Want to know the somewhat murky origin of the mini Stonehenge aka Subdivision Stonehenge?  The origins of Subdivision Stonehenge, like its English ancestor, is obscured by the muck of time. The legend we've heard is that this Stonehenge was originally built in another, nearby location, possibly in the early 1990s, as a gateway for a housing subdivision named "Stonehenge," whose name is inscribed into one of its horizontal beams. Its creators apparently thought that a monumental ruin was just the thing to entice home-buyers, probably not the most well-thought-through of business strategies.  The subdivision didn't do well, and in the late 1990s the Stonehenge was moved for its own safety to its present location.

There's a lot of nonsense on Atlas Obscura that this area is scary or unsafe but I have no idea what the heck they're talking about.  It's a little hard to get to being in this weird triangle of merging highways but nothing beyond that to deter the intrepid explorer.  It's not the most exciting stop in Athens but still neat-o/cool, for sure!

Almost as neat-o/cool as the Godfrey ghost town I visited that same day but have no photos of because I forgot to put the battery back in my camera after charging it.  Cheese & Rice, y'all!  Which is my Mom's nice way of saying Jesus Christ! in a frustrated way without all of the blasphemy stuff it entails for those of the Baptist faith.  Not that I worry about such things m'self but I like the sound of it...it's cute!  Anyhoo, I've got to go back to Godfrey soon because that drive was so much fun and there's so much rural weirdness begging to be photographed that I can't resist the call...

22 July 2016

2 Goats, A Baby & Heading Into The Weekend...

Goats are quick little beasts which make for blurry photos.  But I forgive them of that since they are GOATS!  I absolutely adore goats (although I heard an especially gruesome story about how they can sneakily defend themselves with those horns that made me see them in a bloodthirsty new light) and I almost never get a chance to see them live and in person.  When we visited friends who just had their baby (and other friends had their little one yesterday...it's raining babies 'round here) I was silly stoked to learn that their new home came complete with a ton of property being kept tidy by two goats.  I was also excited, of course, to meet the new addition of the tiny human...

Also, I can't blame the goats for my photography.  I've been Ms. Pointandshoot lately and itsfinejustrollwithit.  Meh.

Brady is kind of terrified of babies and small children (he's an only child with no younger family members to have interacted with) so this was a monumental moment!  In the beginning, about the time I snapped this picture when the thunderstorm was rolling in that caused the dog and baby to jump at every boom, he made that face a lot but by the end he'd relaxed and become a true pro in no time.  Luckily, he wasn't holding the baby when the pooping and crying began or else he would have reverted back in an instant.

So, goats and babies.  Cuteness abounds.  A great way to get an early start to the weekend, right?  We're planning on seeing Star Trek tomorrow as well as going to see some of Brady's new music students perform in a kids' recital (they're playing songs by Skynard and Leonard Cohen because that's what 10 year olds do now?) and I'm getting a massage for my aching shoulder.  I'm also going to make some amazing vegan ice cream for the bakery using local organic peaches that just came in this week.  Soooo good!  I'm also painting my bakery, Brady's got some lessons, we're cooking up a big dinner of something with tomatoes (they are everywhere here right now and delicious) and maybe going blackberry picking sometime on Sunday afternoon.  I'm also going to continue glutwatching Murder She Wrote because, duh, Jessica Fletcher...and because I've already glutwatched Stranger Things and I'm on a roll.  Have you seen it?  Stranger Things?  I really liked it because a) the music was great b) the Sheriff was such an interesting character c) the way it was filmed was perfection and d) I was almost the age of the youngest actors in 1983.  I kept saying things like 'oh my god, I had that necklace' or 'my house had that wallpaper' or 'my cousins played D&D all the time like that' or 'oh my god, those jeans are coming back again' or 'my bike had a banana seat!'  Brady loved that, 90's kid that he is.

So, we had goats and babies, and soon will have baking, glutwatching, massages, movies, berries, recitals. Yesssss.  Let the weekend adventures begin!