Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween in the cemetery

It's FINALLY beginning to look like Fall here in Virginia.

This morning, I strolled through Hollywood Cemetery and took a few pictures of the changing leaves. I'm sure many of you have been seeing this for weeks now but only this week have the actual colors started to change. Happy Sigh.

Happy Halloween! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween & Shovel Contest Post!

A girl has to have priorities! So while I've gotten married and had a fabulous time doing so, I can't post about it until I FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS on the most important thing this little blog has ever done (snickers)---> the Halloween Shovel Contest which has HALLOWEEN! (aka TOMORROW) as the deadline. 

Now because I take this blog very seriously, I incorporated shovels into my little elopement honeymoon. Ha ha ha, actually shovels just creep into my life in various ways. After my fella and I married, we spent a few days in Orange, VA which is pretty much in the middle of the most rural parts of Virginia (read that as COUNTRY and EVERYTHING is closed on Mondays and a bit of confusion of what being a vegetarian means... but that's a story for another day). Our first stop was to Miller Family Farms where we picked out some amazing pumpkins. One was a super awesome red-orange sunburst pumpkin which we bought and one was a popcorny black..which was really a dark dark dark green but still looked like a black pumpkin BUT when I picked it up it came with a black widow on the bottom Eeek! What is it with me and spiders!?! I gently put it back and was done with picking up pumpkins for the rest of the day. Aside was the spiders, I found a set of "Old Gardening Tools" and asked my fella for a picture (which is a super big deal because he's an introvert who hates to be photographed! But isn't he cute! That's my husband y'all!).

The next day we were off to Montpelier, home to James and Dolley Madison. President Madison was a Founding Father and the fourth President of the United States. The land was gorgeous. Currently there was an archaeological dig program going on in hopes of discovering the exact location of where some of the enslaved workers lived. And of course, to mark the spot is a shovel!

I'll post more about my wedding and little adventures in the next few days. I want to wish everyone a very happy Halloween! And I look forward to your amazing shovel posts. Don't forget... PRIZES!

You can even take a bit of inspiration from the following bloggers who have already submitted:

Lucretia's Reflection blog since she already posted her entry and I'm STILL laughing. 

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch posted her entry:
Here's the contest! And it's pretty simple I think because really all you need is a shovel. Now, I presume the entries will be silly and fun but note my disclaimer... if you do something wicked or illegal, don't try to blame this blog or me for brainwashing you into it! (insert fussy face here) Here's what ya need to do:
  1. Create a post with some sort of reference to a shovel. Preferably you should have a shovel in the picture somehow. That's right! Ha ha it's both garden and cemetery related AND you can even write, "I DIG..." just like my little skeleton artwork I entitled, "I dig your heart" which now that I look at it should be "I dig my heart".
  2. Link your post to my Halloween post. I don't have any HTML coding to offer because I'm just not that fancy.
  3. Write a comment with your post link on the Halloween post so that I know where to look. 
  4. Because it's a Halloween contest, it's due on Halloween! October 31st before midnight. You have 31 days!
DISCLAIMER: This blog owner cannot be responsible for any arrests made due to your shovel habits e.g. if you bring a shovel into a graveyard, etc.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

...a Busch Gardens All-Access Experience Bridal Shower...

Most bridal showers and bachelorette parties are just not for me. I’ve been to and thrown some that are quite fun but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken a larger step toward being introverted.  I didn’t want a party, I just wanted to spend time with my best friend aka “Babushka” (we share the same nickname for each other which derives from us giggling about something in seventh grade). I thought about heading to one of Richmond’s historic hotels, The Jefferson, to spend the weekend together but in the end Busch Garden’s All-Access experience won out.
Neither of us had any idea what to expect. The website promised:
When we say all-access, we mean it. Venture behind-the-curtain with this all-access tour to find the ultimate experience, this tour includes:
  • Priority access for all haunted houses
  • Reserved seating at our shows
  • Dinner at Das Festhaus
  • Behind-the-scenes at one haunted house
  • Meet & greet with the cast at one of our shows.
  • Get makeup done just like the performers.
Last Saturday, we headed to Busch Gardens. We had no idea that at 2pm we would be meeting a guide and a small group whom we would be touring with for the rest of the day… until 10pm! Honestly, I’m not sure if I would have booked this is the website had posted a detailed description because I would have wanted to just hang out with Babushka; however, it ended up being the most amazing day ever!
Nerdy/ self-diagnosed OCD ME needed to check-in an hour in advance to understand the process. Luckily we did because at this point we realized we wouldn’t be able to ride any of the rides the rest of the evening because of the tour. “Bummer”, I may have muttered and just like that we received Quick Queue tickets to the Apollo’s Chariot and the Griffin, two roller coasters we hoped to ride. We had just enough time to ride both, grab food, and walk in to Guest Services while eating to meet the group. From there, we were escorted to the make-up area and met the supervisor/ costume and make-up for all of the shows. We received bloody gashes (I mean, doesn’t that jus scream Bridal Shower?!?) and learned about various costuming and make-up decisions. We watched a ridiculous comedian which I won’t go into since I’m posting this online and I don’t want anyone giving me the stink eye. We toured one of the haunts with lights before it was opened for the evening. And trust me we still were scared going through it at night. We then were able to attend ALL of the shows and haunts which wouldn’t have been possible without a guide. The park was packed!
Some of my favorite moments included the Werewolf singer giving Babushka a lap dance; being scared silly in every haunt we went through; and, the topper was being pulled up on stage by the lead vampire during Night Beats. It was super fun. At the end of the night, we had caricatures made in bridal attire.


Oh, I forgot to mention… my fella and I moved up our wedding to this Sunday. Instead of being a Winter Solstice princess, I’ll now be a pumpkin princess. I changed my red wedding dress to an amazing black dress from White House Black Market and fortunately all of my other pieces (veil, sash, shoes, jewelry, etc.) work with the new dress. Only a few friends and family are privy to our changes. We finally just got tired of waiting for the wedding to come. Let's just get on with it already! The Bed & Breakfast was able to accommodate the change with just a few changes.  The main difference for me is that I won't be able to use my awesome Christmas ornament bouquet that I made and will just be surprised by a fall floral bouquet.

Friday, October 17, 2014

... scarecrows and gardens along The James river...

Agecroft Hall is a Tudor estate originally built in Lancashire, England in the late 15th Century. It was the home of England's Langley and Dauntesey families for hundreds of years. Yet, by the end of the 19th century, Agecroft had fallen into disrepair and was sold at auction in 1925.  Thomas C. Williams, Jr., A Richmonder, purchased the structure, and had it shipped across the Atlantic, and reassembled in the Windsor Farms neighborhood.  The house overlooks the James River and has some of the most beautiful gardens in the area that were originally designed by landscape architect Charles Gillette. The grounds include a fragrance garden, the sunken garden with breathtaking annuals, and a knot garden.  

This week the Scarecrow exhibit opened for another season. Local non-profits and schools are able to earn cash for their organizations while celebrating the harvest by creating a scarecrow to represent their group. The scarecrows remain on exhibit for a month and visitors cast ballots for their favorite. The best part is that every scarecrow is a winner since the staff of Agecroft do not tally the votes. They don't even announce the *most popular* scarecrow which is something that I really appreciate about the event. It's not a competition but a celebration. For every vote an organization receives, one dollar of admission cost is donated to that group.

Steampunk scarecrow

This is my third year attending the exhibit. I don’t think it’s well-publicized and this year I was a wee disappointed since many of the scarecrows appeared to be repeats of last year. There were a few new ones which I found to be quite interesting. Another disappointment was that each scarecrow did not have a tag naming the organization. When in doubt, I have historically selected the student groups although the Cosby HS Manga Club scarecrow from 2012 has to be one of my all-time favorites. 

Even if fewer *new* picks this year, it was a gorgeous day and there were some beautiful flowers still in bloom.In fact, I have no way of processing how some of these colors even exist in nature. Bold purples and fuchsias... intense reds.  And this is supposed to be our dying season. It was in the 80s and with the sun it didn't feel much like fall but wow that wind was present.


Turf Maze

View of James River
Van Gogh scarecrow

Sunken garden

Knot garden
My 2012 pick by the Cosby HS Manga Club

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

... books as our guides...

Sometimes the bookmark knows more than I do!

As a commuter, I often use an eReader, my Kindle or my iPad, to re-read materials. Rarely do I use these alone. I have multiple copies of some books that I use to slice apart and staple sections (especially those heavy Nortons) to carry on the train with intact copies with notes sitting in my office. My students used to blasphemously stare but I believe books are better read than left on a shelf… and if it weighs too much for the train along with the other books I lug back and forth, well then, it gets sliced and diced sometimes.

This has been true for even daily readers. In July, I shared about my history with Alexandra Stoddard’s Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty, and Joy to Every Day of Your Life (1986). One of my other go-to books is Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (1995). I love it so much that when I had my original cover included in my Ideal Bookshelf I love the book partly because when I was first going through a divorce at the age of 23 and no one could believe it including me, two of my favorite people (a couple) gave me a copy. That was the year 1995 when the book was originally published. They didn't know what to say but this was the nicest thing they could have done.  Right after my first marriage was ending, my job went bankrupt. I ended up on my parents’ sofa for the next 6 months wondering what had happened. While I was looking for a job, I read Breathnach’s book and I journaled like mad. It was the only *therapy* I could afford and for the most part, it worked. I wrote; I collected pictures from magazines of the life that I wanted; I developed hope for my future. At some point, I regifted my original copy to another friend who needed it more than I did at the moment but then went on and bought a leather-bound copy which has decades of highlights and notes.

Last night, I picked up my e-version of the text and read from October 9th (a few days behind I might add), “Coping with Stress”. I have been looking over The Professor’s Bat Fit and trying to remember the goals I made for myself. I haven’t been doing very well. Not only is it the season of Pumpkin Spice lattes but I’m also quite stressed (even though I’m on sabbatical which is supposed to be relaxing!!!). I read Breathnach’s passage which leads into a series of suggestions that I need to start following. I probably need this as a daily check-off list but really just re-reading these suggestions is a helpful reminder.

When I went to write about this passage, I pulled down that leather-bound copy I previously mentioned and the little bookmark is, well you guessed it, tucked right between the pages of October 9th. Whenever I last referenced this paper edition, I must have been in the same place. Or perhaps, the universe just knew I needed this reminder.

Below is the passage with suggestions:

Is there a woman alive who doesn't suffer from stress? If there is, seek her out, ask her to share her wisdom. When you find her, I'd be willing to bet she'll offer the following suggestions:
                                                                                                                             (Breathnach October 9)