Archive for the ‘Vacation’ Category

Probably here;

Martha's Bloomers

“Bloomers” as in flowers, not unmentionables.

On our recent Conroe trip, every time we said we were going to the Antique Rose Emporium someone would ask, “Are you going to Martha’s Bloomers?” Well, heck, we can take a hint. And it’s in Navasota, on our way, so why not? It’s a lovely spot: Martha B's entrance and they have a tea room, so we went there for lunch. Sadly, they were out of the first 3 things I ordered and what I got was eminently forgettable, but never mind. They have cats.

That’s a real cat curled up amongst the merch. My kind of store.

On the other hand, we might have been here:

Ladies, beware. It’s dangerous in there.

This fabulous store is in Montgomery and one could spend hours there perusing the beautiful things, tasting wine, trying on jewelry, reading cookbooks, trying to decide which antique chandelier to buy. As they say, The Rancher’s Daughter is a “purveyor of things fine and funky.” Oh yes, it is.

But enough of this lollygagging. We came this direction for a purpose–and after only a few detours, we reached our destination only to be greeted with this heartbreaking sign.

Tours Full

Oh, the tragedy.

And where were we? Ice cream heaven.
Blue Bell Mural

The promised land.

Now, the tour thing was a problem, but it didn’t stop us from going upstairs to the ice cream parlor, which was a good thing, because as Rosemary’s bib says…

Alas, it’s only too true.

We fought our way through crowds of spring break trippers to the counter, stood more or less patiently in line…
Rosemary in ice cream line

So close…

And achieved our goal.
Ice cream

Seriously. It doesn’t get much better than this.

The crankies were avoided for another day.

At last….my-y-y luh-uh-uhve has come along…

And all was well.
Blue Bell Marker

We take our ice cream seriously here in Texas.


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They say good fences make good neighbors. Personally, I have a crummy fence and great neighbors, but since my fence doesn’t touch their property it’s probably irrelevant. But I digress… What I really want to point out is that a good fence also makes a great backdrop for flowers. Virginia seems to be full of fabulous fences with equally fabulous flowers…

fence w/black-eyed susans

I'm so recreating this in my backyard.

Here’s the view from the other side:
Cabin & fence view

We spent the night here; more about that later.

This classic combo was at our timeshare. White picket fence It makes a lovely corner to tuck in these especially gorgeous daylilies:

I don't have any this color in my yard. Yet.

And look at this sweet little fence-let:
wee woven wood fence

In case you were wondering what to do with your leftover skinny branches...

Then again, sometimes a fence doesn’t even need flowers to look good:
Yorktown fence

Found this one at Yorktown Victory Center

Biltmore fence

This one is in NC at Biltmore (it might be a railing, but that's fence-ish)

Good fences, every one. (Unless that last one is a railing, I really don’t remember…but whatever it is, it’s gorgeous!)

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Maybe it’s the former drama major in me, but I love a good “pretend” and Williamsburg, VA is full of opportunities to play. Take our visit to the Yorktown Victory Center: it’s not the official historical site, but it is grand fun.

soldiers, Yorktown Victory Center

Don't you just love a man in uniform?

We had a lovely time chatting with the Colonial Army and admiring their quarters. (Their sleeping quarters, not their change.) soldiers' tent Yorktown Victory CenterCaptain Morris must have been out on a mission; we poked around on his desk while he was gone.

Capt. Morrris's desk Yorktown Victory Center

Trusting soul, to leave all that out.

As we were decidedly not Tory spies, no harm was done. I particularly like the laundry area…note that they make a point on the sign that they use soap. Clearly an exemplary establishment.

Laundry facilities at Yorktown Victory Center

Scrub a dub dub.

On a random note, one thing they do have is George Washington’s actual tent that he lived in during the Revolution. It’s preserved behind glass, but it’s set up so you can get a good look at it and it’s quite impressive. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of that; it didn’t come out. Take my word for it or go see for yourself.

We were most entertained while there by the musket and cannon demonstration. The little boy who came out of the crowd to help fire the cannon was so well-trained he had to be told it was OK to toss the…whatever it was…on the ground. (I can’t remember exactly, but it was something to do with the fuse, I think.) Yorktown shooter Yorktown Victory Center No silencers on these puppies; muskets are loud and produce impressive amounts of smoke. Just imagine what it must have been like with scores of these going off at once. It must have been difficult to see who you were supposed to be fighting on the battlefield. Musket shot, Yorktown Victory Center This being a pretend, and as the Colonial Army is not currently engaged in battle, they let anybody hold their weapons. (Yes, we let the kids go first.)

Me with a musket, Yorktown Victory Center

Yes, I know that's not the way to hold it, but it was a photo op, not a battle.

And one final thought, from my old crush John Adams… Road to Revolution 1730-1776

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The Glass Guy

I’m not quite sure how it happens, but everywhere we go there’s “a glass guy.” Wimberley, Texas. Cape Cod, Massachusetts. And now, Jamestown, Virginia. Jamestown Glasshouse sign They started trying to make glass in Jamestown round about 1608. They imported German and Polish glass guys to try and make a go of it. Sadly, things did not go well. They tried again in 1622. And failed again.

But you know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed…skydiving is not for you. No, wait, I meant “try, try again.” So some four hundred years later, glassmaking is alive and well in Jamestown.

Jamestown glass furnace

It's hot in there. Really, really hot.


Note the orb of molten glass. That's hot, too. Like 2,350 degrees hot. Seriously.

glassblower at work When they’re finished, you end up with pieces like these:
Jamestown glasshouse

Look at all that lovely glass.

The natural color of glass is green, because sand has iron oxide or rust in it naturally. So naturally, the piece I bought was green. And gorgeous. And will appear in my next post. (I have a cunning plan. Trust me, it’ll look better there.)

So there’s my latest glass guy. Do you have a “glass guy” where you live? Do tell! I’ve discovered this latent love for handcrafted glass pieces and I’m always up for another trip. Or is there some other kind of person/activity/thing you always find on trips? Tell us about it!

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In the spirit of The $10 Challenge I thought I’d highlight some of the craftsmen I met on my recent tour d’history. These guys are actually still making things the old-fashioned way: without benefit of power tools, computers, or much of anything other than tried and true methods and a lot of ingenuity.

Take this guy:

wheelmake at forge

Talk about slaving over a hot stove...

It was really hot that day anyway and there he was beating the snot out of near-molten metal. That’s dedication.

And this guy: shoemaker He makes shoes–men’s shoes only, thank you madam, all bespoke not off the shelf–and is not a cobbler. Not even. He’s a designer and creator, not a repair shop. So there.

Over in Jamestown we met a boatbuilder–she did all the talking, he apparently did the heavy lifting. boatbuilder in Jamestown Settlement, VA

And back in Colonial Williamsburg we spent ages chatting up the joiners. Joiner, Colonial Williamsburg

master joiner, colonial williamsburg

Master of the shop.

(Poor guy, I prefer candid photos so I have the nasty habit of snapping pics when people least expect it. Hopefully he wasn’t blinded by the flash for long.)

Vikki and I being such DIY-ers, we had a ton of questions about their tools, methods, glue, and such. We know when we’re out of our league, though–there’s no way we’re attempting any of the gorgeous furniture these guys make. furniture shopOn a random note, that shop is built over this little stream. I’m sure it’s quite solid and all, but it seemed kind of insecure, somehow.

view under the shop

A lovely shady spot on a hot day

Then there was one craftsman (actually, there were two of them but they did the same thing) of the kind we always seem to find on any trip…you’ll meet them next time. Meanwhile, happy crafting!

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I realize I haven’t exactly been chatty lately, but right after returning from vacation I got sick. Sneezing, whimpering, coughing up a lung sick. I’m on multiple medications now and improving rapidly, but I decided to send myself virtual flowers. Since money is no object, I picked these: floral arrangement I saw them on our last day of vacation, at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. I love the eye popping combination of orange, blue, red, and green. Which, now I think about it, is the color scheme of my back yard garden.

Enjoy the flowers; I have to go take assorted meds now. Happy Friday!

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One of the best things about going to Colonial Williamsburg is chatting with the people. Some of the people are living in the late 1770’s, like the wigmaker.

wigmaker of Wiliamsburg

Would you care to shave your head and order a wig, madam?

Did you know that in order to have a wig custom-fit to your head, you have to shave your head? Considering how hot and humid it was the day we were there, that almost sounded tempting. Almost. They had such a nice variety of styles from which to choose, too. Eventually, we decided to pass.
Williamsburg Wig Shop
The silversmith, on the other hand, was a modern woman working in a colonial craft. This shows her using a nifty drill to punch holes in a sheet of silver. The delicacy of the designs was amazing.
Williamsburg silversmith
Then there was this nice girl who let us into the Wythe house (the Wythes weren’t home but she assured us it would be OK) and told us all about the people who lived there.
Wythe house guide
This woman took us through the Capital. She was very passionate about the insult to the elected officials when the Royal Governor disbanded their little group. (That whole independence thing rubbed him the wrong way.) It was a fabulous tour.
Capital guide
Finally, we met a lot of women like this one, who bravely soldiered on through record-breaking heat to sit outside various buildings and talk to tourists.
greeter at the jail
They were terrific. Even though they must have been outrageously uncomfortable—Lord knows we were—every one of them was polite, friendly, and cheerful. With tough, talented women like this in Virginia’s capital, I think this whole independence thing might just work!

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