28. The Old Timey Fall Festival

 

THE CALLISON’S JOINED US for the weekend in North Carolina, a good deal of Tree Felling in the boys’ futures, a good bit of porch sitting in ours. And although it is against my mountain religion to drive off this ridge (but for an emergency), we were going to be here for four full days. So I opened my heart to the possibility of a Saturday jaunt to Mount Mitchell.

A little road trip could be fun, I thought, particularly if the result was a mountain view even more spectacular than our current 5200 foot elevation.

And then I learned it was also The Old Timey Fall Festival on the town square in Burnsville. That made it a Done Deal.

 

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-10-56-37-am
you can see why i was so excited

 

Of course Leslie and Scott were game. So Saturday morning we loaded up the dogs, the people, and the trash* and we pointed the 4-Runner for Burnsville.

That festival did not disappoint.

 

 

AND THEN WE STARTED the climb to Mount Mitchell. It was a beautiful drive that took us along the Cane River, the South Toe River and up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. In no time at all we were unloading our crew at Mount Mitchell and making the short hike to the top.

Oh, those views.

 

img_0165-copy

 

 

Mount Mitchell is the highest spot East of the Mississippi, and its peak just happens to be in sight from the back deck of our place. We’ve spent hours sitting there looking across at it, discussing the weather, wondering whether or not a person standing there could see our house and meadow here.

With binoculars, we could. (That was pretty cool.)

 

We're there on that second ridge between the pines!
our little slice of heaven, on the middle ridge between the pines

 

Then we hopped back on the Blue Ridge Parkway and continued in the other direction, eventually taking a (planned) Forest Service Road shortcut that offered a pretty–if slightly unnerving–path down.

 

img_4128

 

It was a perfect day with dear, dear friends, a perfect way to officially move from the fun of Summer to the fun of Fall.

Yay!

 

Sweet traveling buddies
Cinder and Little Bit: Sweet traveling buddies

 

 

30 Days of Fun 

*Needless to say there’s no trash pickup on the mountains so a trip to the dump is cause for rejoicing

 

 

I’d love to send a note when there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your address here!

 

27. I’ll call you.

I’VE BEEN THINKING LATELY ABOUT LIFE’S SEASONS, something that happens to me every Fall when nature shifts to a different gear. For so many people the changes come with an exclamation point, while for others this passage is quiet, less dramatic. But there are always transitions, I suspect.

This year, for me, the move has been marked by two gatherings that reminded me how important it is to lasso the here and now while it is here and now.

 

FIRST THERE WAS THE BABY SHOWER. Eliza made the long journey home to celebrate with her long-ago friend, Kati. It was a biggie for us, my sweet Eliza and me, this realization that her Little Girl buddies are all grown up, living lives of their own, beautiful and celebratory. She and Kati met in first grade when we became across-the-street neighbors and they became do-everything-together besties. Years later Kati’s precious family moved to another city, and high school brought them both new friends and other focuses. Then college sent them yet again in other directions.

How poignant it was that the girls reunited at the joyful occasion of a baby shower. What heartstrings it pulled as we, their Moms (and good friends ourselves) watched them hug and laugh together.

They were six only yesterday, we both were thinking, riding bikes, going to girl scouts, braiding each other’s hair.

Oh life does have a way of moving on.

 

AND THEN I RAN INTO CHARLIE and made a promise so rarely kept.

We need to catch up. Let’s get together soon. I’ll call you! 

It’s the kind of thing that seems to happen after life brings into your orbit an acquaintance who then becomes a friend, and then a good friend. Eventually the connection that brought you together is over–you change jobs, or baseball season ends, or your kids graduate–and without this gravitational pull, drift begins.

It’s a funny thing, isn’t it, how we genuinely treasure people life brings our way, and yet it can be so difficult to maintain those relationships.

I’ll call you soon!

This time, I actually did it.

 

Ringers
Charlie, Cathy, Eliza, Vicki and Tim–missing Sally, but having a blast on the patio at Moonshiners

 

What fun it was to be together. We talked and laughed as the years melted away and we shared story after story of all that’s happened since our girls’ high school days. It took no effort at all to just let go and be joyfully pulled into the sweet gravitational orbit of each other’s lives once again.

 

LORDY IT WAS FUN. So much fun, in fact, I’m thinking of making this a seasonal practice in my life. A celebration, if you will. With each change from Fall to Winter to Spring to Summer, I’m going to reach out to a distant friend and plan a Let’s catch up event. Happy hour, lunch, dinner or just an it’s been too long what are you up to these days phone call. The last weekend of August reminded me life passes too quickly–and friendships are too important–to let them simply slip away.

A Changing of the Seasons Celebration.

This is a good idea.

 

XXOO

 

30 Days of Fun

 

I’d love to send a note when there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here!

 

25. Everyday Grace

Like so many folks, I am an Instagram lover. There’s something magical about simply clicking on the app to find photographs from all over the world sent just to me*. I’ve chosen the feeds I want to see–most are remarkable nature shots, some are people who make things or blog, a few are celebrities**, and many are people I know who make me laugh, smile, feel inspired, or simply give me a little peek into their daily lives.

(Instagram is one reason I love social media.)

I have posted to Instagram myself for several years and include in my feed a little of this and a little of that. Then it occurred to me some readers of The Daily Grace might enjoy a little grace daily! So I’ve created a new feed that offers one photograph I’ve taken each morning…a sweet moment of grace to start your day.

Here’s a sampling.

 

pink clouds

 

hummingbird

 

flower

 

women

 

cloud form

 

tree

If you are an Instagram user, I invite you to follow me there. And if you’re not, perhaps you will consider joining. (Even those who don’t participate in much social media find this app easy to love.) It is my hope you will find The Daily Grace on Instagram to be a sweet spot for calm, joy and gratitude amid the chaos of this hustle bustle (wonderful) world!

Find me here: The Daily Grace on instagram

*Not really, but it feels that way.

**highly curated

***If you already follow me on Instagram, you will see this is a new feed dedicated to The Daily Grace. My original, personal feed is still there: CathyRiggMonetti on Instagram.

 

30 Days of Fun

 

Want a note each time there’s a new post on The Daily Grace? Just leave your email here!

22. Joy at 5200 Feet

An advantage to being at this elevation is the ability to see weather coming from miles away. The temperature and conditions also happen to change every few minutes, so a glimpse into the future can be a pretty helpful consideration.

Except the weather sometimes comes from behind us. It blows in from the North, up and over the house to find us on the back deck blissfully unaware, our gazes set on the three other directions.

It’s just what happened the other day. Dear friends had just arrived for a long weekend–and along with my precious Eliza and one of her besties, Jillian–the six of us were out back to soak in the broad mountain vistas.

 

group
eliza, leslie, cathy, jillian, tim and scott–all sun and smiles

 

Then tiny raindrops began to fall. From nowhere. We looked around disbelieving our luck.

Then someone looked left.

 

rainbow
above the (almost double) rainbow

 

It was hard to believe, a rainbow so perfect, so close you could nearly reach out and touch it. We giggled and rejoiced and stood in the rain admiring its beauty, its intensity, and the perspective of actually being above the rainbow.

And we gave thanks, each in our own way, for the promise.

 

30 Days of Fun

 

I’d love to send a little note when there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here.

20. The Bear Hunt

We decided to go on a hunt*, Tim and I, now that we’ve had our appetites whetted with two confirmed Black Bear sightings on this, our work/play mountain vacation. It’s become a bit of an obsession, if I’m telling the truth, our need to see more. They come and go quietly is the thing, at least according to our limited experience, no movie-style snapping twigs, no shaking branches. Just big, silent, gorgeous black bears moving across the meadow.

So we gathered the gear required–two cold beers, one pair of binoculars, and most important of all, my camera with the big zoom lens–and we climbed the slanting walk to the roof deck.

 

IMG_8462

 

There was a better view.

 

IMG_8468

 

But alas, there were no bears.

 

IMG_8464
the happy hunters

 

No worries. Tomorrow is another day!

 

*To be clear, no guns were involved!

 

#30DaysofFun

 

I’d love to send a little note when there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your email here!

 

 

19. When You Decide To Go Big

 

When we vacationed in Costa Rica, I was surprised to learn the country is rather serious about its cattle ranching. This first came to my attention the morning we went on a flat-bottom boat tour of the Tarcoles River, an adventure that gets you up close and way-too-personal with the crocodiles that live there. To distract myself from the horror, I kept my eyes on distant shores, where the white Brahma cows hung close and seemed just as befuddled with the entire crocodile exercise as I was. I developed a little crush on those cows, snapping photograph after photograph after photograph.

 

threetree

trio

lineup
Then I had this oh-so-fun idea. What if I painted one of those cows…five feet tall!

A few hours and a lot of great music later I was on my way.

 

inprogress
in progress

 

She’s still in the early stages, but I’ve got my joy on and can’t wait to get back to her. I think I’ll add some color and whimsy.

Who knows what might happen next?

 

 

#30DaysofFun

 

I’d love to send an email when there’s a new post. Just leave your email here!

 

18. The Bear

 

My dreams have come true in the form of a mountain house high in Western North Carolina’Pisgah National Forest. My soul is at home here, there is no doubt.

 

meadow
Our meadow. Our view.

 

But it didn’t taken long to come to the realization this is a wild kind of country for which I am not prepared. I am a child of the mountains, yes. But I grew up “in town,” even if that town had a population less than 3,000.

Not so here.

There are 18 homes in our mile-high neighborhood, exactly none of which are in sight and two-thirds of which are uninhabited at any given time. It is glorious–mountains roll on for miles and miles and I promise you, you hear nothing but wind and birds. How we love it!

How blessed we are.

And still I have a healthy respect for the natural world here on this mountaintop. Snakes, yes of course. And Black Bears that roam with such freedom it doesn’t take long to understand why they’re a part of the decor of every WNC mountain home. Tim and I have been a little obsessed; we’ve caught bear glimpses from the safety of our car as we’ve moved around the mountain during these, our first summer weekends here. And we watch for them every time we step outside (particularly when our sweet dog, Little Bit, is in tow). With the wild blueberries in season–and the currently overgrown meadow that lies just below our back deck housing so many bushes–we know we’re likely to have regular bear visits.

It didn’t take long.

 

our first bear
our first bear

 

We’d just been in the meadow, out there making a quick check of the blueberry crop. And two minutes later–maybe?–we’d come back to the deck when I looked out to see this guy.

 

ourfirstbear3

 

He seemed to have a healthy respect for us, too, as he watched us watch him for a while, then he turned to go.

We’ll be here a few more days.

We’ll all be keeping an eye out!

 

#30DaysofFun

 

Want some Daily Grace in your inbox? Leave your address here!

 

17. That Time A Surprise Guest Joined Us for Happy Hour

It’s more the end of the story, if you wanna know the truth, something that happened to add a jolly exclamation mark to the end of our already joy-filled weekend.

We’d come for Dabo’s Women’s Clinic, you see–the collection of 10 college friends gathered at Sarah’s lake house and another handful across town. (There is a great football lesson there, and I shall get to it by and by. I hope it’s one you’ll want to hear.) Anyway, our day of football over, we loaded a couple of snack trays, filled a cooler or two with drinks and made our way down to the water’s edge. There we sat for an hour or more, talking and laughing, laughing and talking until someone looked up to see a white duck strolling right up Sarah’s dock toward us.

 

IMG_8255

IMG_8259

IMG_8261

 

That duck nosed around the cooler a while, then took herself a big fine seat right on our edge. And she sat there a good long while, leaning in, listening, laughing along with the thousand funny things we remembered from our college years together.

 

FullSizeRender-4

 

Then dusk started to settle. Our chatter turned toward dinner and a possible return to the house, and that sweet white duck got up, turned on her webbed heels and headed back toward the dock.

 

IMG_8295IMG_8296

 

We were sad to see her go. But we were mighty pleased she had come!

 

#30DaysofFun

 

I’d love to send a little note each time there’s a new post on The Daily Grace. Just leave your address here.