Archive for November, 2009

What We Did on Our Autumn Vacation: Part Three

November 23, 2009

(Swan at Junaluska)

One thing I failed to mention earlier about our trip to Graveyard Fields was that after we’d hiked to the bottom of Upper Falls and were admiring its beauty, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man pointed out that there was something he called a “trail” going up to the top of the falls. But “trail” was much too kind a word for this slimy mud slick with a few gnarly tree roots that desperate fools could grasp as they clawed their way to the top. “Ha,ha…that’s not really a trail,” I said. “What kind of fools would take that?” (Never suspecting that I would soon know the answer.) Then I tried to distract him by gushing about how lovely the falls looked from where we were.

But Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man is an adventurous sort and would not be distracted. He said, “Come on…I’ll help you. Let’s see what’s up there.” I eyed the mud slick. It was practically vertical—what was he going to do, carry me? I’m just not a vertical trail sort of girl. I’ll take horizontal or diagonal, thank you very much and leave vertical for all you daredevils out there.

But I’ll do almost anything to make Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man happy, and really, who wants to be a stick-in-the-mud? So up our intrepid adventurers went! Wait, make that: So up our two silly old arthritic fools went! I’d like to say we scampered up like mountain goats, but it would be more accurate to say we fought our way up tooth and claw, huffing and puffing like the Little Engine That Shouldn’t.

It was a pretty traumatic experience, so I don’t wish to discuss it further except to say that (1) as bad as it was going up, it was ten times worse coming down (2) waterfalls are really best viewed from the bottom (3) a stick-in-the-mud beats slick-in-the-mud or stuck-in-the-mud or perhaps stooge-in-the-mud every time and (4) if you’re going to slide down a mud slick, don’t wear light-colored pants.

Anyway, after that debacle, I was seeking something a little tamer for our next adventure. Preferably something civilized and horizontal. I found it at Lake Junaluska. Whan I went to their website, the first thing I noticed was a verse from the 23rd Psalm: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.” The second thing I noticed was that even though Lake Junaluska is a retreat and conference center run by the United Methodist Church, they made it clear that they welcome all—regardless of faith or color.

And indeed, our souls were restored as we walked the 2.6 mile path around the lake. The day was cool and blustery, but our hearts were warmed by the friendliness of almost everyone we met and the peace we felt as we walked beside the still waters. I know I’m idealizing the place, but it really was such a balm to our weary spirits. I kept thinking about how much I’d love to live there, but quite likely the houses there are way out of our price range. At least I have the pictures here to remember that sweet day by.

But, of course, in this week of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of the importance of being thankful for what I DO have. I think a lot about Philippians 4:11: “…for I have learned, in whatever state I am, in this to be content.” This verse has special meaning when you know that Paul wrote it from prison. It’s so easy to see what others have (whether it’s money or talent or beauty) and think, “If I only had that, I’d be really happy.”  But true happiness comes from within, not without.  It is a choice.  And everybody knows that neither money, talent, nor beauty brings happiness. You only have to look at Hollywood celebrities to see that truth. But learning to be content with what you have (and to be thankful for it) bestows a far more profound and lasting joy that sustains you through whatever life throws your way.

So, I wish you joy and peace this Thanksgiving season. May your souls be restored by the love of friends and family, and may you find contentment whoever and wherever you may be.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Even the ducks of different feathers flock together there.

A view of the lake

Dogwood berries

In the background you can see the lovely footbridge across the lake.

We loved this delightful topiary.

And I obviously loved the ducks.  Even gave up my Ritz bits for them…

This cross, which sits high on a hill above Lake Junaluska, is alight at night.  I hope to see it alight sometime.

“And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness overcame it not.”

John 1:5


What We Did on Our Autumn Vacation–From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

November 16, 2009


shiny new potty blog

(Our shiny new toilet)

Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I went on vacation last week. Of course, I guess, in modern jargon, you’d call what we did a “stay-cation.” After all, we slept in our own bed every night. But we barely did a lick of work all week, ate a lot of junk food, slept in, and had great fun, so it was a vacation to us. And when you live in Paradise, staying home really isn’t so bad.

As regular readers know, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man dearly loves a roadtrip. So, naturally, we went out most every day. Even on the days we were running necessary errands, it was fun because…well…we have fun every time we go out together, whether it’s to buy a toilet or to hike up a mountain. And we did both on this vacation!

Yes, we started our vacation with a bang when we went to our local home improvement store to look at toilets. They had them lined up with spotlights shining on them, like automobiles in a showroom. There were at least twenty or more there, arranged on the commodious warehouse shelves, gleaming in all their glossy porcelain glory. It seemed a waste though that the toilets were high up on a shelf out of reach. I’m not privy as to why they do that—are they actually afraid people would sit down and try them out (take them for a test drive, so to speak) if they kept them on the floor?

A lot of people these days raise a stink about the fact that we’re having a movement towards low-flow toilets and pooh-pooh the idea, but we were ready to take the plunge. We were bowled over, but flushed with excitement at all the choices. But in the end, we decided to go with the flow and use the…umm…process of elimination to choose our toilet. Our #1 choice was one that boasted of being able to flush 20 golf balls. I mean, what a comfort to think that if we accidentally flushed a bucket of golf balls, that they would go down the first time! That’s sort of like twenty holes-in-one!

But that one was a little out of our price range (sort of like golf.) So we settled on #2, the one that said, “Rated Best Flush!” on the box. After all, like they say—a Royal Flush beats a Full House every time!

The excitement continued when we got home and went to install it (even though we were a little wiped out.) No problem doing the job—all you need is a “Can Doo” attitude. Anyone that tells you otherwise, well, they’re full of it. When we were finished, we were so excited that we had to sit down. But in the end, after we got to the bottom of things…everything came out alright.

Part Two: The Sublime (This story guaranteed pun-free.)

graveyard fields path blog

Well, if you’re still reading, after that shocking display of potty pun humor, I’ll tell you about our trip to Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a lovely place with two good-sized waterfalls (three, if you count nearby Skinny Dip Falls). Unfortunately, not a single picture I took of the waterfalls turned out, and I’m not skilled with photo-fixing software. So, if you want to see some decent pictures of Graveyard Fields and the waterfalls, go here.   Or for lots of wonderful pictures of waterfalls, you should check out my friend Betsy’s blog.

Unfortunately, too, all the trees were bare up there, so there wasn’t much bright color to excite the eye. But there was beauty to witness and capture nevertheless—in all the shapes and patterns that Mother Nature provides in any season. In the bark of trees, in shifting shadows, in sunlight in and out of clouds sweeping across the mountainside, and in the swirls and eddies and sparkles that the wind and sunlight make in the clear water that washes clean the river rocks. That was what thrilled us most all day—watching the interplay of sunlight, rocks, water, and wind. Even though the bright colors of autumn were gone and even though we never captured the true beauty of the waterfalls, we didn’t mind. Because there was such beauty and life and energy in the swirling current, in the eddies of the river, in the scintillating water. In the sunlight, in the rocks, in the water, in the wind. All we needed was right there.

Fire. Earth. Water. Air.


November 10, 2009


Astute readers (and, undoubtedly, all the readers of my blog are astute) may have suspected that the photograph in my previous post isn’t really me. And, of course, you would be right, although the hair is not entirely unlike my own at the moment. (By the way, I think that picture is from a movie. Not sure which one, but it looks Monty Pythonesque to me).

Though lots of folks do post photos of themselves on their blogs, others leave you guessing. And so the mind conjures up a notion of what a person might look like which may be nothing at all like they actually do. It’s funny how our minds so readily form an idea of how someone looks based only on their words. One of the reasons I love reading blogs is that I’m so curious about lives that are different from mine. And that curiosity often makes me wish that folks had a Frequently Asked Questions feature on their blog, because so frequently I do have questions about them that aren’t answered in their posts.

So I thought it might be fun to imagine a few questions curious readers might ask me if they could and to answer them. Quite likely, I’m flattering myself to think you’d be all that interested in knowing more about me, but if you’re not, that’s okay. You are now free to stop reading and go watch You Tube or something. For the rest of you, here goes:

(1) So, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl, why don’t YOU put up a picture of yourself?

Well, first of all, since I run away when someone points a camera in my direction, there aren’t that many current pictures of me around anyway. Which is just as well since the photos that people do manage to snap also make me run away. I feel as though the stories of what I’ve been through in the past 30 years are all written on my face. However, if you’re curious, that’s me in the above shot. I put it there because I had to put something up to illustrate this post. Daddy took it in our backyard when I was sixteen. Check out that plaid maxi-dress!! If you’re wondering about the weird mark on my forehead…well, Daddy had this picture stapled in a scrapbook. I wish I could ask him why he stapled it right in the middle of my forehead instead of in the corner or something, but I can’t since he’s passed on. Maybe that will be my first question when we are reunited in Heaven:  Why, Daddy, why? Right in the middle of my forehead! What were you thinking??

(2) Why do you call yourself Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl? Aren’t you, like, 51 years old?? I mean, you ain’t no spring chicken, lady!!

Hmm…good point. Maybe I should have called myself Blue Ridge Blue Collar Geezer or Blue Ridge Blue Collar Granny. But really, I just liked the sound of Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl. It rolls trippingly off my tongue. And you can see I was a girl once…a long, long time ago.

(3) Okay, how about a silly question, BRBCG….what are three things about yourself that you’d be embarrassed for people to know?

Only three? But there are so many! Okay…One: I still read Rex Morgan, M.D. and Mary Worth in the newspaper comics every single day. I have no idea why. Two: From about age 8 to age 11, I dressed myself like Pippi Longstocking.   She was always one of my favorite storybook characters. Pippi was a free spirit—she was “different” and she made no apologies for it. She also kind of raised herself, which, to some extent, was true of me in my earliest years. I identified with Pippi, so after I started earning good money at age 8 from working in tobacco every summer, I bought my own clothes and dressed as close to Pippi as I could. All I really needed was a little monkey named Mr. Nilsson. Three: When my children were small and I was fixing them a sandwich or something, I’d sometimes take a bite (Hey, I was hungry!). When they’d question the missing bite, I’d tell them it was a Giant Rat that did the deed named Raggedy Rat. “That Raggedy Rat is a rotten rascal!” I’d exclaim. I thought I was fooling them, but they later told me they always knew who the Real Rat was.

(4) Speaking of your children, why do you so often brag on them? Don’t you think that kind of shameless pride is a bit unseemly?

Yes, I suspect it is. But I’ve never been one for false modesty, and I am real proud of my children. We’ve been through a lot of hardship, financial and otherwise. Yet they’ve accomplished a great deal in their young lives. More importantly, they are kind, caring, and compassionate people who have many, many friends. Ooops…there I go bragging again!

(5) Why do you write such long posts, BRBCG? We lead busy lives—we don’t have time to read tomes.

Ummm…well why have you read this far? Oh, sorry…you’re right. I do tend to go on. Maybe I can blame my Southern heritage. When we Southerners start telling a story, we get a little wound up sometimes and carried away. I’m really grateful that there are still people out there in this age of TwitterTweets who will read my lengthy posts. The funny thing is that in person, I’m very quiet and don’t talk much at all. Say, speaking of that, isn’t it time we ended this post?

(6) Good idea. So why haven’t you ended it yet?

Well, because I wanted to ask if any of my readers had questions for me. Because then they could ask them in the comments, and I would do my best to answer them. Unless they’re too personal or something. And the questions can be silly or serious. Because Lord knows, I am both silly and serious, often at the same time. Of course, again, I may be flattering myself to think I’m interesting enough to inspire questions… 🙂

(7) OMG, BRBCG…why is this post still going on??  When are you going to end it??