I've been to Longwood Gardens many times in the evening for fireworks and other events. This summer, there are no fireworks or fountain shows because the large fountains and grounds in front of the conservatory are being renovated.
There are other enticements to visit, such as the outdoor Beer Garden with live music on Thursday nights.
But the main attraction this summer is the new installation of a “light and sound experience.” Last night Gary and I attended the members only opening, and the gardens were packed with people.
I tried taking photos and even attempted a video but I could not begin to capture the effects. Different colors and patterns of light are projected onto a textured landscape of plantings. The locations vary from the topiary garden to the banana tree house and the texture of the living canvas transforms the light into a dimensional art experience.
In the conservatory, the lights are projected onto a sort of suspended, huge disco ball made out of big vines and plant materials. As mesmerizing and interesting as this was, I was starting to think, this kinda feels like the acid trip I never took, back in college in the 70's. If the music had been selections from “Hair” I would have sworn I was tripping!
And then we walked down to the lake across from the tree house. Longwood has set up low chairs to view the lights projected on the water, and against the backdrop of trees in Pierce Woods.
This is where the magic unfolds. Before my eyes, the glimmer of white lights start to depict mist arising from the water surface. Leaves tremble and it seems as if a gust of wind blows across the trees. The mist dissolves into clouds and rain. Then dragon flies dance above the lake, their wings trailing helix drifts of light that turn into waterfalls on the huge backdrop. It is so dimensional I can hardly believe the fish jumping and the splash into the water are not real. How incredible! With just a subtle touch of color, the seasons change and leaves drift down in autumn, snow falls, new buds glimmer in spring.
I was so enchanted I watched three times and I can't wait to go back again. Disney could not have done better! If you are in this area, or can arrange a trip, don't miss this experience.

Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience by Klip Collective

Wednesdays through Saturdays,
Now–October 31, 2015




Car House

I've always wanted to drive an RV across country on an exploring vacation. The lure of the open road, everything we need with us, no schedule, just freedom to experiance what comes our way. Gary is less enthusiastic about this plan. “How about trying a week-long trip first?” always said using that Voice of Reason tone.
Ok, good sense and reason prevail. As a Father's Day surprise, I rented a 30 foot RV and planned out a trip to Virginia, loading golf clubs, bikes and fishing poles and including two cutie grand kids. Nothing wrong with stacking the deck for success.
Off to a great start, Gary pretty quickly got the hang of driving a huge cube of a vehicle with no excelation to speak of, on the gentle back roads of Lancaster county. I'm the helpful passenger reminding him, “this is not a Porsche.”
Since we got on the road about three hours later than planned, it was black dark night when we reached the mountains of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Did you know it is possible for dense, pea soup fog and torrential, driving rain to happen at the same time? Oh, now throw in gusty wind, low hanging tree branches and a very black bear running across the road… “S*#t! Was that thing a bear?” “Yeah! We missed him!” Yup, it was an auspicious start to the trip.
No one slept in the tent.
Not with a fun loft to sleep in, big enough for three.
Outdoor showers are better than inside showers.
Especially after sticky pop sickles.
We parked our “car house” in the campground at Pipestem Resort in beautiful West Virginia, on the top of the mountain. We took the tram down to the excellent restaurant deep down in the gorge.
On the way down we saw a waterfall, a raccoon and two deer but I was enjoying watching the little girls too much to snap pictures.
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner overlooking the river we crossed in the tram. Gary had scallops, Tanner ordered steak au poivre and I had beef braciole. Very appreciated after camp fare of hot dogs.
Many years ago, Gary's mother made this cookie jar for my children.
It seemed like Father's Day was the perfect time to pass it along to my son and grandchildren.
I hope I have also passed along an appetite for adventure and a love of the outdoors to my granddaughters. This trip in the “car house” was a fun beginning. Maybe someday we'll sleep in the tent!



Another Finish

The Panic Button is now fully engaged. The stress of a deadline can really be motivating. It can also unleash a wild, crazed fabric buying spree. Note to students– just buy it! I had fun with this line of fabrics called “Figures” by Moda. There are a few additional fabrics from other Moda collections with similar colors.
I didn't want to have to think too much about block placement so an easy composition was in order. I did take some time to arrange colors and patterns of strips I'll insert into my squares.
This was an easy quilt sample that went together quickly for my up-coming Geometric Quilting in Layers class at MAQ.
If I get stuck dithering about anything, it's usually binding. Does the white with dark blue crosses look best? Or the light blue with dark blue crosses? Maybe the dark blue with light blue crosses? The heck with it! Use'em all!
P.S. I know you're asking. Yes, I did fussy cut the binding and sew carefully so that the crosses all lined up nicely. Pretty tricky, huh!


Get Sewing!

My hand is hovering right over the panic button. Mid-Appalachian Quilters Conference is less than three weeks away. I still have sample quilts for the class to finish! I want the students to have a super easy option. In the class write up, I say, “Bring some beautiful fabric you love.” That's pretty vague, but the small quilt we make in class works with almost any fabric. The fabrics above are from several lines by Moda with some batiks and fabrics from my stash mixed in.
Thread is important in this technique. You want your threads to show. My favorites are the variegated King Tut threads. I'll have a huge selection for sale because many quilters aren't familiar with this gorgous thread.
For this quilt — no worries! I'm not pre-planning my block placement or direction. I just choose thread for each block. I want some threads to match and blend in and some threads to have color contrast.
Sew like a demon! I think this quilt could almost be finished in class. The quilted blocks go up on my design wall for consideration. I wish I had taken a picture of my rejected blocks. There are four extra blocks that just didn't make the cut in the color composition. Have I ever mentioned that I could hand out mug rugs for a week at Starbucks?
I've decided to put a traditional binding on this quilt and none of these fabrics are in the blocks so they might work.
Auditioning bindings. Do I dare to use that wild polka dot?
Sure! Wilder the better, right? One sample done, several more to go. Yikes.


Bobble Head Dinner

I only had a few days to rest up after hiking before I needed to go on a crazed house cleaning, shopping and cooking whirlwind. A month ago, with several friends, and Gary and I attended a Grgich Hills wine tasting dinner at DuPont Country Club. We all decided it would be a fun idea to take turns hosting a wine dinner. Whoever ended up with the Miljenko Grgich bobble head centerpiece was up first. That would be us. This all seemed like a great idea weeks ago, before the hike.


Gary and I both cooked and prepped food for hours. Why was I thinking I needed to set a high bar? Whole lotta work!
The Menu
Starter Grilled artichokes with smoked tomato pesto
Dinner Filet mignon with cilantro chimichuri sauce
Grilled asparagus and Vidalia onions
Goat cheese and chive roasted potatoes
Desert Chocolate mousse with ripe strawberries, amaretto creme
I guess we should have served Grgich Hills Estate wines but the wine store had a 20% off sale on Italian wine. Italian it is!
The house looked good after “puffin' and fluffin” as my friend Peggy says. I need some lessons in flower arranging from her. I loved the table centerpiece I made until I walked away and the dang thing crashed over. How do you get the florest foam to stay down, anyway? Note to self– duct tape does not stick when wet. At all. Not even a little bit. Finely used wire and with Gary's help rescued the flowers. I was frazed.
Everything looked beautiful, the weather was perfect, the candlelight just right and the food was delishious. Friends gathered around the table to enjoy dinner and wine and the good company of each other. What could be better!
Passing on that bobble head. Oh yeah!



Shenandoah Day Seven

I'm hoping to see another bear on our last hiking day but the noise I hear is only a browsing deer. Since deer regularly make an appearance in my yard at home and devour anything I have planted, I don't consider them that special, but it feels nice to see them in Shenandoah.


I didn't think I would get to finish this section hike. Laura discovered oil leaking under her car. We drove into Waynesboro after hiking to have it checked out–not so easy at eight o'clock at night. There wasn't a drop of oil left in the car but after tightening the oil filter, which was ready to fall off, and pouring in three quarts of oil, we were on the Trail early this morning. It's nice to know we've reached the top of Calf Mountain. I always add a rock to the cairn for good luck.
Signs at the top of the mountain are very nice also. It's sometimes hard to tell that you have actually reached the top because there can be several false summits, usually on really big mountains that feel like the killer unending stairway to heaven.
On the way down Little Calf Mountain, a hiker coming up tell us to watch for a garden of lady slippers.
Wow! They're everywhere. I've never seen so many lady slippers growing in profusion like this. How wonderful. Equally as good as siteing a bear.
I love climbing over fences on styles. It seems so old world and lovely. In places where they use gates to keep livestock corralled, I bet there's an app on your iPhone to operate them.
On this gate, someone has left a message.
“Go everywhere. Study everything. Fear nothing.”
A profound sentiment to ponder on the last mile to the trailhead. Laura and I have chattered our way down the Trail for the past week but we are quiet now, thinking about how we have enjoyed our time together. This has truely been a perfect hike. Shenandoah National Park is a special part of the world and my love for these mountains is soul deep. I think when I'm in my rocking chair and my mind drifts back to my Appalachian Trail journey, these past days are the ones I will savor most in memory.
Sawmill Overlook to Rockfish Gap
Miles hiked 10.4
Bears sited 0
Total Section Big Meadows to Rockfish Gap
Miles hiked 62.8
Appalachian Trail 2175 – 1453 = 722 miles remaining
Woohoo! I have less than a third of the Trail left!



Shenandoah Day Six

Right out of the Trailhead we start assending Blackrock mountain. I'm glad we don't have to scrabble to the actual top of this jumble of rocks. It would be nice to see the full circle view but I'm content to just walk around on this easy path. Only in Shenandoah National Park is the Appalachian Trail so accommodating.
It's much warmer today and getting humid, too. Laura and I are very grateful for every waft of cool breeze. The rhododendron and mountain laurel are starting to open blooms. I think this could be a quilt but I'm not sure how I would do all those tiny star-like bud shapes.
This is an amazing old oak tree. Laura speculates it was around before the American Revolution.
Another beautiful old tree. I guess this is “tree” day which is pretty ironic since we are hiking to Sawmill Overlook. We have hiked thru big open meadows and the top of Turk Mountain was open and grassy. The guide book explains that these areas were used as pastures before residents were relocated to create the national park. Did the farmers save a few big oak trees to provide some shade? I don't know, but I'm glad these huge trees are still here for me to admire.
Blackrock Parking to Sawmill Overlook
Miles hiked 11.3
Bears sited 0


Shenandoah Day Five

Today's hike starts with crossing Ivy Creek. Just an easy rock hop across this trickle of a stream. This is the only water we will cross on our entire hike. The Appalachian Trail follows the top of the ridge line for much of Shenandoah National Park, which allows for gorgous views of the valleys and distant mountains. It does make it difficult for ThruHikers to obtain drinking water and they don't get to see the waterfalls, cascading down in the lower regions. Lucky for me that I have hiked to all the waterfalls over the many years that I have been coming to the park.
I looked really hard but I didn't see any jack-in-the-pulpits in the Ivy Creek drainage. But I found three pink lady slippers.
Many people don't know that lady slipper orchid leaves and stems are poisin and can cause a rash as nasty as poisin ivy. Touch me not!
Finely! Finely! Finely! I see a bear! I thought I heard the sound of a bear scampering up a tree. Their claws make a distinct clicking sound on the tree trunk that I've heard before. I stop and scan the woods, yep, that dark shadow is moving– way too close to me. Laura is pretty far behind me and I don't want to yell to her so I just back up very slowly. Mama bear isn't very interested in me, she's making sure her cub is safe up in the tree.
I couldn't get a good picture of the cub with the limited zoom on my phone camera. Darn. He is the cutest, tiny ball of fur! Several ThruHikers come down the Trail and are thrilled to watch the bears for a while.The hikers are anxious to take a side trail up to the Loft Mountain Wayside where they can get burgers and blackberry milkshakes but Mother bear is not going to move off while her baby is in the tree. Laura and I continue on at the junction since our trail moves away from the bears.
Tonight we are tenting at Loft Mountain Campground. Not as luxurious as Big Meadows Lodge, but no freeze dried dinner for us. After setting up camp, we drove to the Loft Wayside to test those burgers and blackberry milkshakes for ourselves. Delishious! Definitely worth risking a bear attack for. Um…not really!
Relaxing at the end of a perfect day. Milkshakes and bears!
Ivy Creek Overlook to Blackrock Parking
Miles hiked 10.6
Bears sited 2 Yeaaaa!



Shenandoah Day Four

Last night Laura and I stayed in a rustic cabin at Lewis Mountain, two small bedrooms connected by a tiny bathroom. A noise woke me up about 3 am. Laura in the bathroom? No, not that kind of noise. More like a loud scratching and scrabbling sound and it is definitely in my room. Crap. A mouse is into my food! I get up and gather all my trail snacks, wrap them up and put them high up on the clothes wrack. I was just falling asleep when the noise started again. Crap. The dang rodent is in the waste basket, long tail hanging over the edge, gnawing on a discarded peanut butter container. I bang the waste basket with my hiking pole and the mouse jumps for cover under the dresser. Waste basket goes up on the clothes wrack also and thankfully I don't hear any more out of him.
Hiking through Shenandoah National Park is wonderful. For some reason, the Appalachian Trail locators didn't find it necessary to make hikers clamber over every single rock pile.
The rocky viewpoints are just a few steps off the Trail and you don't gave to risk life and limb to take a look. Notice how short my poles are? I broke one of them and I had to attempt a temporary repair with duct tape. I have carried that tape over 1300 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia and finely used it for the first time.
I'm very happy that the Trail is so moderate that I don't need my poles much of the time. Wild flowers lining the path are lovely, too.
This beautiful old spring flows right out of the mountainside. We aren't collecting water on our “Glam” hike. What a luxury to have bottled water and even a soda in our backpacks today.
Another gorgous day in the Shenandoahs. We are back at Big Meadows Lodge tonight. Hopefully in a mouse-free room.
Skyline 66.7 to Ivy Creek Overlook
Miles hiked 11.9
Bears sited 0


Shenandoah Day Three

The rain and fog has blown away from the mountains and the skies are filled with mare’s tail clouds, signaling fair weather.
The trail is lined with a profusion of spiderwort flowers. I love that purple color with a touch of blue. Occasionally I see a clump of the flowers with purple/pink tones.
Lots of wild geraniums also. Maybe today is going to be purple flower day.
I told Laura to get up on this tree stump for a photo. She’s pretty short and was convinced it couldn’t be done. I think it was just a ploy to get me up there.
Definitely purple flower day. These Showy Orchis flowers come in light pink too, but I only see the purple/white just starting to bloom.
I am walking through a tree cathedral. Laura and I are silent, feelng the reverence.
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
John Muir

Lewis Cabins to Skyline 66.7
Miles hiked 9.5
Bears sited 0









Shenandoah Day Two

Darn. We woke up this morning to steady rain. Hiking in rain is just not fun. Since Laura and I are “Glam” hiking this section of the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park, we don't have to hike and get soaking wet. We have a leasurly long (and too big) breakfast in Big Meadows Lodge dining room and then drive to the Visitors Center, a great place to spend some time learning about these beautiful mountains.
After lunch (also too big) we decide to chance a break in the rain and hike a few miles to work off some calories.
The woods is a magical place in the mist. I love how quiet and contemplative the trail is. The rain has darkened the trees and brightened the foliage and the high contrast is lovely.
I spotted a red eft, working his way across the trail.
The very best discovery! Two blooming yellow lady slippers! I've only seen one yellow lady slipper before in all the miles I've hiked, so these are special.
Driving back to the lodge at the end of the hike, the Skyline Drive is totally blanketed in fog. Laura and I are the only cars on the road and deer are everywhere– on the sides of the road, leaping into the road, running across the road. I'm driving about 5 miles an hour and only see them at the last second, the fog is so thick. Well, that was an experience.
Bootens Gap to Lewis Cabins
Miles hiked 3.3
Bears sited 0


Shenandoah Day One

Yea! The trilliums are still blooming!
I didn't realize when I took this photo of Laura that the arrow was pointing straight at her!
We drove to Shenandoah National Park and had time to hike from Bootens Gap to Big Meadows Lodge. It is so wonderful to be back in this beautiful place.
Miles hiked 5.8
Bears sited 0


Unpack and Repack


I’m doing a quick load of laundry from a week-end of sewing with the Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee in the Pocono Mountains. We all had a great time, working on lots of different projects, enjoying each other’s company and eating really well and too much.


I worked on my Bonnie Hunter “use up my stash” quilt.



And I showed everyone the blocks I made with the Quick Curve Ruler. We decided we need to do a Bee challenge using the ruler but we don’t have all the details figured out yet.


On to the next trip to a different mountain range. I’m packing my backpack and meeting Laura in Shenandoah National park. This will be “Glam Hiking” since we plan to stay in the lodge and a cabin for a few nights. I love Glam Hiking!





My Turn

It's my turn to host the Sometimes We Do Quilt Bee. I usually have some awsome quilts to show but not this time. There is an issue going on in my Bee that must be addressed. Knitting. There, I've said it. This incessant knitting must stop. Or at least be seriously scaled back, after all, how many scarves do we really need? I know, I know, yarn is fiber too but it is a poor second cousin to Real Fabric. So, you know who you are, take the high road, stray no more and we won't speak of this again.
I made a very quick Kids Quilt for the West Chester Domestic Violence Center. Calico Cutters Quilt Guild makes kits of pre cut squares to sew and my longarm made quilting fast and easy.
I like to sew a pocket on the back and include a book. I have been giving my grandchildren the books I read when my children were little and snuggled under a quilt for nap time. But I have boxes and boxes of books! I can never make enough quilts to make a dent. Maybe I can fit two or three books in the pocket. It's fun trying to match the story book to the theme of the fabric.


Mother’s Day

What a wonderful breakfast! Hot coffee, fresh orange juice, strawberries and melon, bacon, cheese strata with asparagus and onions, scrambled eggs and different breads, muffins and jams. We sat on our small patio and enjoyed every bite while watching the river and listening to birds call. But now I don't want to move!
In it's heyday, the canal was filled with water from aqueducts made by daming the many streams and rivers that flowed down to the Delaware River. There are plans to fill the canal again, as funding becomes available. I like riding along the sections that have water, today more often pumped into the canal from the river.
There are grand old homes.
Homes with beautifully kept gardens and grounds.
Stone cottages with modern additions.
I think this is the house I'd choose– a view from every room.
Check out the tree house! This historic property is the former home of William L. Lathrop. The 1756 House was the residence on the grounds of a mill complex. Lathrop, a renowned landscape painter, took the coopers shop for his studio and shuttled art students from New Hope on his boat, Sunshine. The scenic beauty must have inspired the artists on the canal.
We were told where to look to see this huge nest. We couldn't see the two juvenile birds but were lucky to see the two Bald Eagle parents, soaring over the river. We saw folks watching another eagle hanging out near a second nest built on an electrical tower. If I were an eagle, I'd try for the leafy real estate. A three eagle day!
Very appropriate for Mother's Day…that's a lot of kids…
This restored lock keepers home is the Delaware State Park Headquarters and museum and our turn around point in New Hope. No chance for a bite to eat unless you have reservations for brunch. No worries, maybe I'll be hungry by the time we peddle back up the river on the New Jersey side.
I've been thinking of my mother all day. Happy Mother's Day, Mom! And to all Mother's, I hope you have a wonderful day.