Monday, October 16, 2017

Leaf-Peeping on WV Country Roads

It seemed as though fall would never make its presence in our city, so last week we made a two-day trek to the West Virginia area referred to as the Potomac Highlands. The crooked and broken arrows on the map below show the general direction of our trip, with a yellow circle highlighting the areas visited.
Fortunately, our fall color has come just a little later than the WV Division of Forestry predicted in the map shown below. We enjoyed much colorful foliage on our trip (see circle on map for area visited).

Our highlights included stops at Seneca Rocks, Blackwater Falls, Canaan Valley and Smoke Hole Caverns, and we criss-crossed through four different counties - Randolph, Tucker, Grant, and Pendleton - as well as the Eastern Continental Divide.

Day 1: Much of the highways traveled were state roads that looked a lot like the picture below, with lots of curves, grade changes in elevations, and too many logging trucks to count. Deer darting across highways are also a known hazard this time of year, particularly near dawn and dusk, and we saw our share of those, too.
Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area - our first stop
After a little over 3 hours of driving, we made our first stop at Seneca Rocks. The Appalachian Mountains were formed as a result of the uplift of the continental crust nearly 275 million years ago. Heat and pressure caused sandstone layers to metamorphose quartzite, and Seneca Rocks, part of this Tuscarora quartzite bedrock, juts at an imposing 900' above the Seneca Creek valley below. Evidence shows Native Americans inhabited this area during the Archaic Period (8,000BC - 10,000BC). Algonquin, Tuscarora, Seneca, Cherokee, Shawnee, and Mingo tribes all dwelled, traded, and fought in this area. European settlers arrived in 1746.
During WWII, soldiers climbed here to prepare for mountain warfare. Today, this area is recreational to hikers, rock climbers, sightseers and ameteur geologists. We hiked the 3 mile (round trip), 900' elevation Seneca Trail, with an observation platform as our resting, turnaround point.
Seneca Creek, Trail Start

Seneca Trail Path

Seneca Trail, rock face climbing point

Seneca Trail rock jenga

Seneca Trail Foliage
There was a 50% chance of rain during the hours we hiked and, though the clouds rolled in and out of the hills, it never rained on us. The photo below shows an enlarged image of the Seneca Rocks face, and a circle at the observation point to which we hiked.
Seneca Rocks, with observation point in view on left

Valley vista view from Seneca Rocks Observation Point

View of Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, parking lot, as seen from 900' elevation Observation Point
The estimated hike time was two hours for this trail. We completed the ascent in 40 minutes, the descent in 30. It was very tiring!

We had reservations at nearby Canaan Valley State Park Resort, the same state park where my high school girlfriends reunited this past summer. We checked into the resort by 4:30 pm, had dinner at 5, and a drizzling rain started just as we were served dinner. Lights were out by 9pm!

Day 2:
We had breakfast at Bright Morning Inn in Davis, WV, a quaint and welcoming bed and breakfast,  originally built in 1846 as a boardinghouse for lumberjacks.
Bellies full, we headed north another 12 miles to Blackwater Falls State Park. We had the entire park to ourselves on this particular morning, which was bright and clear.
Blackwater Falls, October 2017

Blackwater Falls State Park 
From here, we ventured into the Dolly Sods Wilderness. It was 10am when we left Blackwater Falls, the sun shining brightly, but it soon clouded over. By the time we turned off the narrow, side road to make our ascent to the top of the area (on a then dirt/gravel road), the fog had rolled in among the hills making visibility quite difficult. View the photo below, clockwise starting from the top left frame, and you can see the changes in the atmospheric conditions. We decided to turn around (not easy to do on the narrow road!), and headed to our next trip stop.
The road to Dolly Sods Wilderness
Of note, Dolly Sods is in the Monongahela National Forest, and contains ecotypes more common to southern Canada, with elevations ranging from 2,500 to 4,700 feet. It is now part of the National Wilderness Preservation Forest, but during WWII, it served as training grounds for target practice. Visitors are cautioned at finding UXO - UneXploded Ordnance mortars, bullets, etc - even though the US Army Corps of Engineers performed a cleanup of the area.

Our next trip stop took us back past Seneca Rocks, to Smoke Hole Caverns. A show cave featuring stalactites and stalagmites, with fresh spring water running into a coral pool and streaming throughout its twists and turns, its history is varied. Seneca Indians originally used Smoke Hole Caverns to smoke their game meats and, with smoke emanating from the single entry/exit, the name evolved. Local lore says the cavern was used during the Civil War by both the North and South (remember, West Virginia is one of two states formed during the war in 1863). After the Civil War, it is said the smoke hole was used for making moonshine during the Prohibition era. Smoke Hole Caverns has one of the highest ceilings of caverns in the eastern U.S.
It also boasts one of the world's largest ribbon stalactites
Concrete walkways, iron stairwells and various lighting throughout have undoubtedly taken a toll on the overall natural environment, but it is still a natural wonder to see the formations, approximately 300' below the mountain under which it is situated.
Our last stop for Day 2 was back to our resort destination for an afternoon Canaan Valley Scenic Chair Lift. This afforded us the opportunity to take in one more overview of the mountain range from atop of the ski resort peaks.
Throughout our two-day leaf-peeping journey, we saw plenty of scenic pastoral views and farmland.

Our trip was a nice getaway in the eastern mountains of West Virginia. But, the best view, by far, was one of a West Virginia sunrise, coming up over the mountain on our way home.
Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong....West Virginia, Mountain Momma, take me home, country roads.
Rita C. at Panoply
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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Miscellaneous Musings No. 9

Number 9, number 9, number 9......time for another one of my random thought streams, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes silly, but always intended as light and fun. I call these Miscellaneous Musings, and this one is No. 9. Fear not, none of my links are directed toward revenue-generating sources. I am a non-revenue blog. I just link for the fun of it. Hopefully, your fun, too.
Every time I speak or hear the number "9" spoken, that [portion of ] track from their White Album is what always comes to my mind. Here's a weird thing....I started drafting this post on October 9, which happens to be John Lennon's birthday (1940), and when looking for the track above, I found out the number 9 bore great significance to John throughout his life. You can read about that here.

Grandparents day was September 10. I have granddogs. Meet the crew: Sebastian (Welsh terrier), Edie (beagle) and Audra. Audra is a Muttaineer, just adopted about a month ago. The bottom right photo captures both Edie's and Audra's spirit perfectly the day she (Audra) was adopted. Edie is a Grandma (they think around 13), but has perked up with Audra. Audra is going to be a big girl - they think she's a Lab/Shepherd mix. Edie and Sebastian were both adopted, too. Sebastian is a wild man (he's 5), and he wants to be a WV Mountaineer when he grows up.
Here's a photo of my last dog. Her name was Coco, a chocolate poodle. Just kidding. My oldest bought this for me at FestivALL this past June, from J. Bird Cremeans' Antique Pet PhotosFestivALL Fall will be coming up October 20-22, here in our capital city. I hope to take in some of the events.
J. Bird Cremeans Antique Pet Photos
Speaking of our capital city, if you subscribe to Southern Living, we were featured in the travel section in the October 2017 issue, The Other Charleston. :) It was a good synopsis.
SL October 2017: The Other Charleston
For Pete's sake (and that better not be the P name), when are the hurricanes going to give up and go away?? Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria,'s time to go! A little levity through the worst of it.......
Gainesville police pose for selfie, causing heat wave during Irma (and if, for some reason, you can't see the picture, it may be because the photo was later taken down due to the middle cop's past remarks on his personal FB page).
Gainesville Police
Nun clears trees after Irma. I think we had a few of these nuns through our years of Catholic upbringing. This is how they kept order in the classroom, too. I think it later became the basis of a movie -  the Chainsaw MASSacre.
Nun Clearing Debris
And then there was this cool find which a guy found on the beach after the Irma storm. This is the stuff junkers dream of! Hurricane Irma treasure in FL canoe by Randy Shots
Treasure from Irma
Okay, this wasn't hurricane-related, but I bet the staff of Naples Waterside Shops were out in full force after the hurricanes, especially Irma. Believe it or not, a couple of times I have shopped there I have seen staff vacuuming and wet-vacuuming the floors of this outdoor mall's floors. Talk about upscale shopping! That's upscale cleaning!
Naples, FL: Waterside Shops
You won't catch me cleaning like that, but I do tend to go at it fast and furiously when I do. But then I need to rest and recover for a day or so afterward. I can't get it all done in a day, and if ever there will be an incentive for me to downsize, it will be related to housecleaning. Laundry? I don't mind.

Speaking of laundry....(btw, that's a picture of my crochet potholder collection, with all my autumn colors brought to the surface of the ironstone wash basin. I'll later pull all my red & whites up from the bottom of the bowl for Christmas). I digress, but I keep those on top of my dryer in my laundry room. Stay with me a minute.
Crochet potholder collection
My new towels purchased after our bath renovation had so much fluff they made my dryer's heating element go out after one too many clogged vent trap - outside. Yes, you read that right. I remove lint from my interior filter after each cycle, but the vent trap outside was getting clogged up (it has one of those pest guards that keep squirrels and mice from crawling up inside to get warm...or burnt. I'd check and clear it when the dryer took longer than usual to dry). Our machine is almost 20 years old (Kenmore). I had it repaired. Even though it was a little pricey, the service was excellent (24 hrs). Plus, it gave me the opportunity to clean out more lint inside the machine. Cheers to another 20 years - yea, right.

I know I told you all about my Panoply sisters' weekend of shopping back in September. What I didn't tell you was that we were being watched in one place for hours.....and we didn't even figure it out until we checked out and our "secret shopper" left as we did. Lol, I bet we wore her butt out because we were there all day, no lie.

She should've been watching this guy pictured below. When we commented we liked his purchase, he deadpanned, "I've been looking for a good woman". I bet you have. I bet you have.
"I've been looking for a good woman."
Remember the concrete planters I got from my neighbor in September? Well, there was some fungus among us in the pickup. Technically, moss is NOT a fungus, but it's what I got on one of the planters. I've been misting it....not sure if it'll preserve or not. Anybody know?
Fungus among us
While some of you may think I am a complete hoarder, I like to think I'm not. As a matter of fact, when I got a text from a collector friend saying she had bought my Fire King jadeite tulip salt & pepper and grease jar from our booth last month, I told her I had a lot more kitchenware. I texted her the photo of part of  my jadeite collection (below), as shared in a post of mine a couple years ago. When she asked if I was interested in selling and I replied yes, her text response was this:  "I think I'm going to have a jadegasm." :D She bought all but the nested mixing bowls, batter pitcher and fridge bowls, plus a few more odds and ends I had. Happy seller, happy buyer.
Kitchenware collection
I went to my dermatologist for an annual checkup a week or so ago. He asked if I was using a cream he prescribed for melting freckles (age spots). I said no, insurance wouldn't pay a dime toward the $200 cost of the tube. So he told me to use Differin gel, an OTC thing. For those of you with grown kids, do you remember this was a prescription for young adults with acne? And now it's being used for age spots. Go figure. Once a [wo]man, twice a child, as they say.
Speaking of doctors, I don't want to totally gross you out (maybe just a little, yes). Remember the guy with the tick in his ear? See exhibit, below. These two pieces fell out of none other than Mr. P.'s ear! On two separate days, 10-4 and 10-9, with a family doctor visit in between on 10-6, saying there was no concern! Copy that, 10-4? He is diligent with Q-tips after showering, and said his ear was sort of itching. If you recall, I mentioned in a prior garden post he's been pulling weeds for me almost daily throughout this season. After a followup conversation with our family doc, he saw an ENT specialist on 10-10, who said it was clear, no antibiotics. Hopefully this is the end of this story.
Sherwin Williams just announced their color of the year for 2018, Oceanside.
Lol, I just got rid of a quart of that stuff - or something very close to it - that somehow was brought to my house from one of my oldest's first paint jobs in her first house. She used an oil-based paint for an accent wall. Below is a photo of that wall just before they were putting the house on the market. It took several coats to cover that old turquoise-y color. It also took a lot of ZEP spill absorber to dry up what was left so I could throw it away (ReStore won't take oil-based or flammable liquids of any kind).
2004 Version of Oceanside
I saw this truck with its signage not too long ago. I liked it, and was wondering if the driver did, too. Would you, if you were the truck driver?
Crete Truck Signage
I saw these four standing the other day in front of my neighbor's house. Standing for the flag. If they can do it, apparently it's not that hard.
Taking a stand
October 10 was National Handbag Day!! Can I get an AMEN?! If you aren't aware of my love of vintage and antique purses, just click on my sidebar "Panoply of Purses" and you'll see some of what's in my collection. Or, you can view better detail in this post. Typing "vintage purses" in my search box calls up a few more related posts. Or you can just see the sample collage below.
Collage of Panoply Vintage & Antique Purses
That's it for another edition of Miscellaneous Musings, No. 9 (number 9, number 9, number 9......).

Leave all the comments you'd like. I try to answer them all. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate ya!

Rita C. at Panoply
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Autumn Garden Arrangements

Thank you to everyone who took the time to visit my latest post on Amber's blog last week. It was fun collaborating with her, and fun putting together some of my prior work for a compilation post. One of those individual vignettes mentioned by several of you in the comments was the market basket of greens, which I originally shared in 2015 (click here for that post). I've been wanting to make another seasonal arrangement or two, so I scavenged out in the garden this past week to clip a few components for a couple of easy autumn arrangements.
After snipping several plants, what I came up with is pictured below. Other things cut, but ultimately not used (nor labeled in the photo), are the orange Mexican sunflower blooms (on the brick floor, left) and some wild grapevine with berries (on the step) I had cut on my morning walk. And, check out my containers - still full, just the undergrowth beginning to yellow a bit!
The market basket is stored in the basement when not in use, and I've kept the red twig dogwood branches from years past. They make great filler fodder, and are a beautiful red once the leaves fall off in late fall. I actually keep them loosely arranged with a rubberband to make for an easy start in future arrangements.

Instead of using a bucket with potting soil in the base of the market basket for this arrangement, I simply used a bucket with water this time. It's still easy to roll the basket without spillage. I just made sure my bucket was tall, and the water not filled too deep.
The picture above shows my work in progress. I simply started with the nandina branches in back, trimming as needed for the right height, and then started filling in the sides with magnolia and purple fountain grasses.
Lastly, I filled in with cut stems of butterfly bush and hydrangea blooms, adjusting and adding other branches where needed for fullness. That's it!
Once that was completed, I decided to rearrange the same elements into one of my garden watering cans. Since the can is not as large as the basket, the adjustments I made were taking out the red twig dogwood branches and trimming the remaining branches for less height.
I'll see how long these last, likely a week or so while in the water, but I have plans for a few of the cuttings. One thing I've learned in the past is that nandina berries are beautiful on the plant, but are like BBs, rolling all over the table, floor or wherever else you may place them as decor. They fall off rather quickly, so they should be placed into some sort of bowl or other container that will catch them if you decide to use them. Hydrangeas, once dried, can last a really long time - years - though the petals may start shedding. Magnolia branches are the best insofar as longevity. WYSIWYG (wizzy wig) is a an acronym/phrase that comes to mind with magnolia - what you see is what you get.
Floral arranging is not rocket science. You can use cuttings from your own yard, a neighbor's (do ask first!), or even a field or side of the road. Anything that looks interesting to you - texture, form, color - any and all of these make for potential little masterpieces. Have fun with it, and look for unusual containers to make it a unique display.

Your visits are always welcome, and your comments too. I try to answer each and all.

Rita C. at Panoply

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Harvest of Fall Home, Garden Vignettes

Happy October, everyone! We are finally seeing some fall-like weather, and if you're like me, you're really ready to embrace the season. Today I'm guest posting over at Follow the Yellow Brick Home, where Amber has invited me to share on a couple of my favorite subjects - fall, and home & garden vignettes. I've put together a compilation post of some of my prior work - a harvest - and hope you'll find some inspiration in the mix.
So, grab a blanket and your favorite drink. Let's load up the truck and roll on over to Amber's!
For those of you coming over from Amber's blog, welcome! If you're reading from a handheld device, scroll all the way to the bottom of your screen and click on "web version". That'll take you to my blog's homepage, where it's a little easier to navigate. You can then see the menu of topics at the top, or a search button on my sidebar to find a topic of interest.

Your visits, readership, and comments are always welcome!