My Heart is Still in Winter

My heart is still in winter, tho my flowers say it’s spring.

I am surrounded by cold realities that I cannot change.

I do not have the power to thaw my frozen, fearful heart.

Life is precious. The fragile need protection.

I am hunkered down for a bit.

Holding my budded heart closely.

Waiting for a safe time to open.

I have faith in spring, even now.

We will endure. We will bloom again. We will grow.

This I know.


The Koi at the Castle

We never make a trip to Biltmore Estate without visiting the Koi ponds. Lately we have only visited the gardens, not the castle, so we start at the Conservatory. The koi ponds are up a hill near the house. Seeing the Koi is worth the climb.

There are fish of all sizes and colors. Some are habituated to being hand-fed and come to the edge if one stands still. I love this because it gives an opportunity to see them close up.

The biggest fish are over a foot long. There are many smaller members of the schools.

My favorite Koi are golden yellow. I was thrilled to spot one.

My family has koi in much smaller ponds, so we spend time here visiting these fish each visit.

FLOW and fish

The Biltmore Legacy Museum

Several of my favorite Biltmore artifacts have been moved to Antler Hill Village over the years. I appreciate this move because it allows a closer look at these treasures. Two of my favorites are the Napoleon chess set and the many place settings of china, crystal and silver used during formal banquets.

The chess set was originally owned by Napoleon Bonaparte. I was not at liberty to use the flash, but you can see how ornate each piece is.

Each piece is a masterpiece.

My daughter and I discussed the many pieces of silver, china, and crystal necessary for each guest. Good thing there were many servants to cook, serve and clean up. Many local folks were employed by the Biltmore Estate.

I have used my formal china , crystal and silver only a handful of times during my 37 years marriage. I guess I need to quit protecting it and use it.

There are many more fascinating artifacts in the Legacy Museum. Make sure you stop by there before you leave the grounds.


Queen at Eighteen

What better place for a queen to have portraits done than at America’s castle, Biltmore Estate?

This lovely young woman is turning eighteen and making her debut. Her beautiful sage green gown has stunningly gorgeous gold lace applique.

I would love to have gotten some close-ups, but did not dare distract a professional at work. I did ask permission to take photos and gave them my card for this blog.

The crown and appliques glistened magically in the afternoon sun.

I think this celebration at eighteen could have a more positive impact than those at 15 or sweet 16. It celebrates the young woman at a critical time in her life. It is like being a bride with no groom. All the attention is focused on her from all the people she loves most.

I am sure this Queen’s celebration will be as lovely as she is.


Crazy Gorgeous Orchids

Every trip to the Biltmore Conservatory is a dream come true for me. One of the many highlights is the orchid collection. The variety of colors and shapes is a marvel. I have always found orchids fascinating.

You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

One of my favorite books is Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. If you are an orchid fan you will love it also.

FLOW the flower fan.

A Tiny Biltmore

Any trip to the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina is a treat, but this trip had many highlights. The best surprise was a replica of the Biltmore Manor, Conservatory and gate house. It is made out of all natural materials found on the grounds of the estate. I have paired the photographs so that you can see how amazingly accurate these models are. You may want to click on each photo to see the details.

Here are shots of the front of the Biltmore House. The entrance is flanked by giant sculptures of lions.

The left side of the house has an arboretum covered with wisteria with benches to sit on and view the mountains.

There is a magnificent spiral staircase to the left of the main entrance.

These next photos are close-ups to show the materials used in this miraculous replica.

Stay tuned. I have several more surprises to share.


The View from my Desk

Covid 19 finally found me on February 6, 2023. I spent forty eight hours in a stupor. Covid tests were negative the first two days. I did one last test on Friday, February 10 before heading to a many-times-postponed physical (scale included) with my GP. The pink lines on the test card formed before I could set the timer for 15 minutes.

So, the stop and go continues. I am back in a mask. Quarantined in my side of the house. No trips to see my mama. I am holding my breath hoping Mr. Flower and Rose do not get it. Somebody has to keep going!

I hope you enjoy this post of mess and chaos. This is what I usually hide. It has recently come to my attention that my friends are feeling ashamed of their messes, which made me sad. This blog post is for all the women who think they should have a clean and tidy house. Enjoy!

This is the table behind my desk which faces a wall and window. Notice the Valentine decorations for the folks at the facility hanging on the chair, undelivered. The notebooks are family cookbooks for relatives that I have not mailed yet.(sorry Sue, Colleen and Kayla) The bag of chocolates was given to me by Rose because she does not like them. Fireball whisky is for my nightstand when I cannot stop coughing. The book under my antiviral prescription is for a Clickart Program. I got up at 2 AM to select vintage St. Patrick art to glue onto shamrocks but cannot find the disk. The pocket for it in the book is empty. (hi ho)

The other side of the table is covered with my antiviral medication, cup of cold coffee and one of my hundreds of masks I made to avoid Covid. The giant Valentine is one I am reworking into a decoration. (next post…wait for it) There are also various supplies for making ‘Fairy Windows’ for and with my friends.(future post) The plants, puzzles and books in disarray are always there.

The left side of my messy desks is surrounded by photos of folks I love and a follower-mama of my other blog. Notice all the colored pens and markers. My college roommate still likes to rib me about my collection. Now, everybody knows Marybeth. Notice my computer is on books. This is so that when I do interviews the computer camera is not pointed up my nose or straight at my ‘old lady neck.’ My camera is always close-by, of course.

The right side of my desk has a photo of my daddy that I talk to as I work. (Hi Daddy!) There are figurines of my heroes RBG and Fauci. Many owls are about. The black cord was found while looking for the Clickart disk. (?) Beside my wall calendar is one of the Madame Alexander dolls that made it through without a haircut or being lost. That bookcase is full of books on Human Anatomy and Physiology and diseases.

The floor is also full of clear boxes for yet another project. The African violets are my late mother-in-law’s. The poinsettia is a gift from Rose three Christmases ago, blooming again. I made the stained glass yellow iris, Banana Frappe’. Notice the mirror surrounded by nuggets? My mother is reflected in it from a photo on the wall across the room. I couldn’t have set that up if I tried. Mama always did keep a close eye on me!

More books, more family and favorite people photos. I see that my space heater is too close to paper again. I guess I should move those.

So now you have seen my mess. I have nothing more to hide. The rest of my house is like this. I hope you feel better about your house, Sandra. We have better things to do than clean. (Pinch that baby Leprechaun for me.)

All you people can come on over and visit me in my chaos, but please wait until I test negative. Masks are required inside. I am going back to bed. Looking at this mess has worn me out.

Slow Flow

Sun on a Stem

Wintering is hard on nature and human nature. There is a fine line between dormancy and death.

I felt the need to march myself outside on this windy, overcast, February day to search for some ‘sun on a stem.’

I was relieved to find my first bright spots on the Edgeworthia: Chinese Paper Bush.

Lovely glowing circles of yellow blooms around fuzzy buds. These remind me of little suns.

I spotted some gold on the path across the front of the house. Bright crocus blooms warm my frosty heart.

There was one brave daffodil standing tall on the hill across the drive.

More ‘sun on a stem’ posing among the dead and dormant weeds.

I am grateful for these beacons of brightness that help me hold on to my sanity until spring.


Cardinals on Valentines

My sister and I have been purging papers from our parents’ home. We recycle as much as possible.

I saved all the Christmas cards with cardinals on them to make Valentine decorations for the folks at the facility.

I gathered Zots glue dots, glue sticks, craft scissors and ribbon.

I purchased a big pack of several sizes of cardboard glitter-covered red hearts.

I used my craft scissors to cut the Christmas card fronts into different sizes and shapes.

I used Zots and glue sticks to attach the cardinal pictures to the front of the hearts.

I will punch holes and add ribbon so the hearts can be easily hung from the doors of residents who want one.

Folklore associates cardinals with romance due to the birds being monogamous and both helping with rearing chicks.

Cardinals symbolize positivity amidst troubles.

They are also associated with visitations by departed loved ones.

Thus the saying, “When cardinals appear an angel is near.”

These folks cannot remember who visited them, but maybe seeing a cardinal on their door will bring some joy.