Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Hodge-Podge

We have been in no particular routine around here, just a little bit of this and that. Here's a sampling of what's been keeping us busy! I've been doing a lot of felting and dyeing of yarn and silk. The garden is producing at least a little bit, though it's extremely handicapped by the skyscraper-ish weeds which I've given up on at this point.




The weather has been the prettiest I can EVER remember for a Kentucky summer.... rain every few days, cool nights and highs of 70-80. Heaven.
Last night, we went to the Kentucky Cup Reining Championship at the Kentucky Horse Park. It was the first of several preliminary "trial" events in preparation for the September, 2010 World Equestrian Games. Reining is kind of like dressage, Western-style. (Like most athletic pursuits, equine or otherwise, it looks really easy when someone's super good at it, but it's NOT). We're preparing for the National Elite Alpaca Auction in Leesburg, VA. Check out the two beautiful girls we have consigned (that's our full Accoyo fawn, Noel, above)! Information is available on our farm blog.
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blue Ridge Bliss

Paul and I had an opportunity for the first time in almost ten years to get away together for a long weekend as a couple... without kids in tow! Mirian was invited to go to Florida with family and she accepted, much to our surprise and pride- she is really growing in confidence and spreading her wings. We found family and friends willing to watch over Robert, too. The entire happening came together within less than a day, and with things going smoothly now on the farm with our new farm manager in place, we snatched the opportunity (carpe diem!).

One of Paul's favorite places to go (and now also mine) is in an area south of the Smokey Mountains, near where the states of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia meet. He rides his motorcycle there for a week every year for BMW's Georgia Mountain Rally, and knows the area well.
video
Driving through the mountains with the top down on the Mini-Cooper was so relaxing and the weather was cool and fresh. Paul was excited for me to drive the Mini on a special stretch of Rt. 129 at Deal's Gap, NC, nicknamed The Tail of the Dragon. It's a mecca for motorcycles and sports cars, as there are literally 319 curves over 11 miles of public road! It was an absolute blast in the well-handling Mini, and we kept the top down even after it started raining lightly. I've got an official dragon sticker to prove that we did it!
We drove the Dragon again on our way home, check out the video! (I was unable to splice the parts together elegantly with music this time, but got a huge kick out of Paul's camera work- don't worry, we didn't really crash!)
Then it was off to the Biltmore, "America's Largest Home", in Asheville, NC. I've been reading my nephew Zach's blog as he travels through Germany and others set in England, and see some pretty spectacular places that way. The Biltmore has got to be as close to a castle as we have in the U.S.! Photos aren't allowed inside, but suffice for me to say that it is beautiful and fascinating in every way.
The gardens and winery were probably my favorite parts of the visit, and we could have spent a lot more time at either. The grounds are breathtaking in their use of native and ornamental plantings, and I look forward to seeing more on horseback in the future since it's possible to take your own horse to ride over the 8,000 acres of the estate.
Then we hopped on to the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove to a special area that Paul had picked out for us to stay, Little Switzerland. The inn's setting was gorgeous and serene with a great mountain view, and we enjoyed our evening there. We did more driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway the next day. Any part of this drive is a must-see. The Parkway is in total nearly 500 miles of beautiful winding roads of mountains and farms, with absolutely no commercial signs or businesses of any sort allowed within sight of the road. What a break for the eyes and the soul in our image-driven society of commercialism! We especially enjoyed the waterfalls that are plentiful in North Carolina, and all were highlighted by the thick carpet of rhododendrons and other flowers in bloom.
The photo below was taken at Linville Gorge, which was just spectacular.
This photo is of Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall East of the Rockies! My photos don't really do them justice.
We spent our final evening in Highlands, NC near the Georgia state line, and felt lucky to get a walk-in rate for half-price at a beautiful hotel! The economy is affecting even the most high-end areas, though it was pretty nice to not think of that at all for a few days. The final photo below was taken at Bridal Veil Falls, just outside of Highlands.
This trip was an early anniversary celebration of our 20 years of marriage. Thanks, honey, I couldn't be luckier to have found such a great husband, travel partner, father, and friend. Can't wait to see what adventures the next 20 years brings!
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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Guest Blogger- Honor Flight

I am thrilled and proud to have my Dad as my first guest blogger on this patriotic day that we celebrate as Independence Day here in the United States. Here he goes....
I have had a very great experience recently- I was honored to be included with World War II Veterans on a trip to Washington D.C, and went along with one of my five sisters, Annie.

Honor flight was started in Springfield Ohio by physician and pilot Earl Morse. Earl wanted some of his patients who were World War II Veterans to see the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Check out Honorflight.org . It is now a national program with 42,000 veterans taking the trip by the end of 2009. It is free to the veterans.
Hello! My name is Bob Millat and I was in the U.S. Army in Korea after World War II and my sister Annie Beall was a nurse during the war & was stationed in the Phillipine Islands. I still salute my sister since she was an officer. My brother Dave was also in the war and was also stationed in the Phillipines and then on to Japan.

Our Honor Flight trip started @ 6:00 A.M. when we boarded a commercial plane at Dayton International Airport. There were about 80 veterans with about 15 in wheel chairs. There were also about 20 volunteers that were extremely helpful.

We got a nice send off at the airport by Congressman Mike Turner. Mike was previously the Mayor of Dayton. Mike we need you back in Dayton.
All during our travels we were acknowledged as World War II veterans and received cheers and applause on the plane and in the airports. It was very heartwarming to receive cheers as we entered the main concourse in Baltimore. Cheers from all the crowds was a real thrill.

I sat next to a veteran who was a navigator on B-25 bombers. His plane was stripped of armaments and guns to be lighter and was used to get our troops by parachute into the heart of Europe. He said they always flew at night and in the worst weather and very low to the ground. They lost 100 planes and crews for every 200 flights. He was lucky.
We visited the World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War Monuments. Also Lincoln Memorial, Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial and were able to see the changing of the guard at The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. There are about 350,000 graves at Arlington Cemetery. It was very special to be greeted at the WW II Memorial by Elizabeth and Bob Dole.
They made a special effort to meet each group of veterans and express their respect and thanks for serving their country. My sister Annie (on the left) was really pleased to get her photo with Mrs. Dole. Her husband was overseas in the Pacific Area for 33 straight months. One of the biggest thrills was at midnight as we got home in Dayton. The Honor Flight organization arranged to have hundreds of people that cheered, waved flags and clapped as we made our way into the main terminal at Dayton Airport. There was even an honor guard and a big sign “ WELCOME HOME VETERANS.” My sister Annie said that was just what she needed. When she came home from the war, she arrived at Union Railroad Station, and there was no one to welcome her home. There was a mix up on the time she got home, so she had to take a taxi to her home all alone.
There were terrible wars in our country’s history. The following statistics of Americans killed are just awful. Civil War 600,000. World War II 400,000. Korean War 52,000. Vietnan War 55,000 and now Iraq War 4,000 and growing.

I think it’s about time that the citizens of America start a major campaign to create a big time memorial to peace. I can see it now a PEACE MEMORIAL that would be a big showplace. Remember what Rodney said?

“WHY CAN’T WE JUST GET ALONG”
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Horse and Wagon

Every once in a while I come across something in blogland that is just so captivating and inspiring that I can't get it off my mind. This site, Wagon Teamster, is the story of Bob Skelding, about my age, that decides to chuck his current lifestyle (with a bit of help from the economy) and literally head for the road with a team of Percheron horses.

I know my description of the site won't do it justice, so all I can say is GO THERE. Bob is just back on the road again in Indiana with a new wagon and team after a horrifying accident in February. His writings are beautiful and the site is filled with wonderful tales of horses from his past, a great kid's section, and photos of his fascinating journies.
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