Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pieces of Gold

More than 1000 Wake County public school students  from 30 schools performed on March 14  at 7 p.m. in the 29th annual Pieces of Gold at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Pieces of Gold is an annual arts extravaganza produced by the Wake County Public School System and Wake Education Partnership. 

 My granddaughter Grace who is in the fourth grade at Lacy was one of the dancers in the Lacy production. They had studied the evolution of jazz.

Grace in middle of photo here. (Still captured from DVD)
Grace far left of front row (Still captured from DVD).
Grace with chin in hands (Still captured from DVD).
Students and teachers work throughout the year to produce performances that support the curriculum as well as entertain an enthusiastic audience. The event also serves as an annual fundraiser for Wake Education Partnership. 

 The students of Martin Middle School used special effects with puppets and told the story of Medusa under the sea. Their production was among my favorite.

For the finale all the students appeared on stage or in the aisles of the auditorium.  It was quite a show.
Grand Finale. (Still captured from DVD)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Checked This Off My "Bucket List"

Chaos, our llama for the trek.
Chris Best of Applewood Inn giving us instructions on handling Chaos.
Hiking with llamas was something I had wanted to do for some time, and when I saw an article in the News and Observer, I decided this was my chance.  I convinced friend, Marcia, to go with me for this adventure.  And now I can check this off my "bucket list".  It was great fun.
Getting acquainted with Chaos.
Chaos' name belies his nature.  He is not chaotic at all, but quite gentle and very easy to lead. Once we had climbed a rather steep hill and reached the ridge, we had level ground for much of the two-mile hike.  And the scenery on this beautiful spring morning was spectacular.
Pat and Marcia at top of ridge with Chaos.
Our shadows.
Beautiful scenery. Note the mowed hiking trail along the ridge.
Linda of Applewood Inn joined us on the hike.
The last part of the hike took his down a steep hill and into the woods where we welcomed the shade.  It had gotten pretty hot.
In the woods.
Finally we reached the driveway back to the house and past a lovely weeping willow.
Whew, back at the Inn for a little rest before heading home.  But the hike was so much fun and the llama was adorable.
Marcia back at Inn for a rest before heading home.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March is the New April

Since early March, it has seemed like April around here.  We hardly had Winter!  The spring flowering is at least three weeks early, and the deciduous trees are leafing out much earlier than usual.  But, hey, I'm not complaining, unless of course that means we are going to have an earlier and a longer summer.  Our pink azalea out front has been in full bloom for over two weeks now.
The snowball bush began flowering in January.  It is full of blossoms now.  Some of them are still immature (greenish), but it won't be long until it will be completely full of white blossoms.
The dogwoods are almost in full bloom, and the redbuds are past their peak of flowering and are beginning to form fruit.  See the little green pod (legume) of the redbud on the left in the photo below.
Flowers and fruit (on left) of redbud tree.

And notice the leaves of the tulip poplar. So big already.
Leaves of the tulip poplar.
Our Japanese maple tree leaves are almost fully formed.
Japanese maple tree.

I am truly enjoying this early Spring here in North Carolina.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trekking With Llamas

Llamas at the Applewood Inn. (Photo by

Today Marcia and I are going to be trekking with llamas.  We're are at the Applewood Inn in Lexington, Virginia where they have Llama Trekking hikes.   So we're going out this morning for an adventure.
A llama looks out over the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru.
Photograph by Mattias Klum
The llama is a South American relative of the camel. These sturdy creatures are domestic animals used by the peoples of the Andes Mountain. Native peoples have used llamas as pack animals for centuries. Typically, they are saddled with loads of 50 to 75 pound.

Llamas are willing pack animals but only to a point. An overloaded llama will simply refuse to move. These animals often lie down on the ground and they may spit, hiss, or even kick at their owners until their burden is lessened.  (National Geographic Website).

You can be sure that we won't be overloading them with a pack during our hike.  And the only thing I'm worried about is getting "spit" at by the llama.  That and hiking for two miles!

Anyway I hope by the end of the morning I can check this off my "bucket list".  I'll post photos tomorrow. 

In any case, we've enjoyed our stay at the beautiful Applewood Inn.
Photo by

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gadding About in Virginia

Applewood Inn, Lexington, Va. (Photo from their website).
Friend Marcia and I are on our way to Virginia where we'll celebrate a belated birthday for her.  We will be staying at the Applewood Inn near Lexington, Virginia.  Recently the News and Observer had an article about llama trekking,  and hiking with these exotic animals had been on my bucket list.  Dan's response was "No thanks!", but I had no problem convincing Marcia that this would be fun.  So on Wednesday after breakfast at the Inn, we will be trekking with llamas.
We're looking forward to breakfast at the Inn. (Photo from their website).
Maybe Happy will be one of the llamas joining us.
Happy, one of the llamas. (Photo from their website).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Safe Driving for Seniors

Keeping Seniors Safe in Driver's Seat (Photo from Go Magazine, March-April 2012)

We just received our Go Magazine from AAA, and there is an article that caught my attention: Keeping Seniors Safe in the Driver's Seat.  Seniors or adult children who may be concerned about their parents driving skills will find this article useful.

AAA has a website that provides expert advice on how to drive safely while aging gracefully.

Until my eye improves from the recent surgery, I only drive short distances and familiar roads at night.  Anyway I found this article in the Go Magazine very helpful and maybe you will too.

Safe driving all!  And above all no texting or cell phone use while driving.  This applies to all drivers, not just seniors.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Catawba Valley Pottery and Antiques Festival 2012

Lot of pottery and antiques at the show yesterday.  This show is always a lot of fun.  Sales were good---I think the economy is improving.  And my friend and former student Natasha came over from Charlotte where she was visiting.  So good to see her.
My booth.
Daniel Johnson pot.
Bright green face jug.
My booth.

Jeff Young's pottery.
Blue Ridge in my booth.
My friend, Natasha, visiting at the Pottery Show.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Catawba Valley Pottery and Antiques Festival Preview Party

Last night the Preview Party for the CVPF was held at the Metro Convention Center in Hickory, NC.  The Preview Party is the primary fund-raiser for the Catawba Valley Pottery and Antiques Festival. The Party is always held the Friday night before the main Festival.  Last night guests were offered an early buying opportunity. Along with a preview of potters’ wares, a Southern supper (buffet style) was served and music was provided by the Sigmon Stringers.  This non-profit event benefits the Catawba County Historical Association in Newton, and the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove.
Show held at this lovely venue.

Chairs of the couple who secured their place first in line to purchase pottery on Friday night.  They were prepared to wait a number of hours to have first opportunity for buying.

 Buyers line up early for this show.  When I arrived early on Friday morning to park van to be ready to unload there was already a group of folks waiting to get in show.  First in line was a family from Ohio who had secured their place around midnight on Thursday night for the show that opened at 7:00 on Friday night.  There is always a long line that forms early for this show each year.

Great salad.
Great dessert.
Sigmon Singers..
 Fun evening and sales weren't bad either. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Baked Sweet Potato for Lunch

The other day I was here alone, and I wanted an easy to prepare lunch.  I thought, Why not a simple baked sweet potato?  Easy, tasty and healthy.  I popped a few NC sweet potatoes in the oven, and an hour or so later, lunch was ready.

Heat oven to 400° F.   Wash the sweet potatoes to remove any dirt and pierce each sweet potato several times with the tines of a fork. You can coat with olive oil or not depending upon whether you want the skins to be soft or crisp. Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil because as the potatoes get done, they will ooze caramelized syrup. Bake until fork tender, about an hour.

Cut potato in half and add butter and brown sugar. This is the most common way to eat baked sweet potatoes.
Baked sweet potato with butter and brown sugar.

However, my favorite way to eat a baked sweet potato is to add a dollop of Trader Joe's Honey Yogurt.
Baked sweet potato with Honey Yogurt.

Trader Joe's Honey Yogurt.
This Greek Style Honey Yogurt from Trader Joe's is my favorite yogurt.  

Maggie gets the left over sweet potato skins.  She LOVES them.
Maggie finishing off the sweet potato skins.