It’s snowing in the South.

I slept in this morning.  When I went to bed last night the snow had stopped but was predicted to restart at about 3:00 a.m.  It didn’t happen.  The wistful little girl in me felt a wave of disappointment.

photo-12 At ten o’clock this morning I was having a second cup of coffee when the world was suddenly quiet and I knew the snow was back.  All was right with the world. What is it about snow that calms all my beasts?

Even though I know this one is supposed to be a doozy and I will probably consider the snow itself to be a beast if it stays around long, for today I am serene and relaxed and happy.  And I love the snow.

It snowed for a long time yesterday but the accumulation was not significant because the ground temperature was warm.  That is not the case today.  Within a half hour of starting up again the street in front of my house was well covered. It’s supposed to continue for hours.

I’m on the line of the front that is expected to get freezing rain on top of snow.  I won’t likely enjoy that. photo-13 That’s when the greatest risk of losing power exists.  I’m a fickle snow adorer.  I want my snow with all my modern conveniences at hand.

My photos look as if they are black and white.  I like the look.  But I didn’t photo shop. The day is that gray. If you look closely you can see some hardy children trying to sled in their yard.

I won’t enumerate all the difficulties of being without power.  You know what they are.  I am fortunate to have gas logs.  That means I can stay warm. And Lulu the cat helps with that.  She’s also good company.  Well, most of the time.

Now I think I will bake some oatmeal muffins so I can have breakfast if the power goes down.

How’s the weather where you are?

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Pat’s excellent adventure.

AshevilleDowntownDayIt is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.   ~ Andre Gide

A few weeks ago my daughter and I drove up to Asheville, NC, to a reading and book signing by Barbara Kingsolver, one of our favorite authors.

Even though Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina, I think Asheville may be the most recognized (by people outside the state) and beloved (by in-state residents) city in the state.  It’s my favorite.

We left Charlotte early enough to arrive in Asheville for lunch and a little shopping.  Asheville is a small city nestled in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.  According to the July, 2011, census report, the population was 84,458, just large enough to have many big-city amenities, yet small enough to maneuver by car without getting too lost.  (Giggle.)  Well, my travel companions might not agree with that last statement.  More on that in a moment.

One thing I enjoy when I’m in this diverse small-town city is the opportunity to eat at one of the many restaurants that specialize in vegan and/or vegetarian meals.  After meeting our friend C at the hotel, we all headed out for dinner at one such restaurant, Homegrown, near the University of North Carolina-Asheville (UNC-A) so we could go from dinner to the auditorium on campus. As promised by DJ, our meals were delicious and prepared with the freshest, best-quality groceries available.  I will look forward to a return visit in the future.

So far so good.  We were fairly familiar with the route up to this point.  DJ had eaten at the restaurant earlier in the year while in town for a conference.  And I had entered the campus from this direction – quite a few years ago.  I probably don’t need to tell you that our first approach to campus was a bust.  We circled out (I was grateful that DJ was driving.) and took another approach.  Thanks to my daughter’s memory which is more efficient than mine, we were successful on our second approach.

Malaprop’s, the bookstore where we ordered our books and tickets, had sent us a very rudimentary map of the UNC-A campus.  My attitude was that it couldn’t be very difficult to find the auditorium at such a small school.  I’m not sure C and DJ agreed with me but they gave me free rein; they humored me.  I figured we could stop and ask a student, a nice young teacher at the gym door, or any breathing human.  One time years ago my daughter told me I would talk to a fence post.  She was right.  I don’t fear strangers.

After several stops and starts to ask if we were headed the right way, we arrived at Lipinsky Hall where Barbara K was speaking.  It was a bit of a trek but we’re all three hardy types and the walk in brisk late-fall mountain air was invigorating.  (That’s my opinion.)

If you’re a Kingsolver fan you know her for The Poisonwood Bible or Prodigal Summer or photo(30)any number of other books.  Her latest, and the one she read from, is Flight Behavior.  I don’t do book reviews but let me say this about Barbara Kingsolver’s work:  She doesn’t write just books; she writes literature.  Many high school English teachers agree with my assessment, as some of her work is required reading for high school students.

photo(31)In my version of Barbara’s words, Flight Behavior is a novel about a number of things: climate change, monarch butterflies, marriage, the Appalachian Mountains, family relationships.  I don’t remember whether she included politics but it’s a word I would add.  I found the book entertaining and thought-provoking.  Every paragraph, every sentence is its own little work of art.  She’s a remarkable author.

Hearing BK read her own work was a rare and special treat for all three of us.  She is a native of the Southern Appalachians as are C, DJ, and I.  Sometimes I’m tempted to think that’s why we like her work, but that fact can’t explain why her writing is wildly popular all over the world.  It does make me have a special warm spot in my heart for her, I think.  And it helps that she pronounces Appalachia correctly.  (Sharyn McCrumb, another of my favorite Southern Appalachian writers explains the pronunciation here.)

I would like to tell you that Pat the Navigator got us smoothly back to our hotel from the auditorium.  Alas, I would be lying if I told you such nonsense.  Suffice to say that the on-ramp we were looking for was cleverly hiding near an overpass and we kept missing it.  I stopped counting after three passes.  Does anyone know if Apple has corrected its latest map fiasco?

Disparate subjects: politics, and a musical cat.

The Democratic National Convention is in town.  The air crackles with excitement.  Okay, maybe that crackle is road rage.

I’m pretty sure Michelle Obama stayed at a hotel a mile and a half from my home last night.  I think that because the streets that form a perimeter around a certain hotel are closed.  The media have warned us for several weeks that traffic patterns will change.  And we all know that those folks are not particularly subtle.  Those changes, of course, cause detours and overcrowding of surrounding routes.  As I move about these next few days I will have to plan my trips a little more carefully than usual.

You might think I’m complaining, but that is not the case.  I am thrilled to have these guests in town.  I think what they/we are doing here is an important part of the American political process.

I considered attending the convention.  I chose not to.  I could have secured a ticket because I worked as a volunteer this summer.  I registered voters in a predominantly Latino neighborhood.  (We aren’t very subtle either.)  I decided instead to watch part of it on television.

Already today I have learned how Jeff Bridges makes a white Russian.  (With a lot of alcohol, by the way.)  To be fair, I also heard him talk at length about his No Kid Hungry project.  Bridges attends both political conventions because he believes strongly, as do I, that hungry children should never be politicized.  I give a resounding “Thank you and keep up the good work!” to Jeff and his children.

Now the other story.

I was in the kitchen recently cleaning the sink when I heard a sweet melodic sound.  I stopped being noisy and listened.  I heard it again.  And again.

The radio, ipod, and television were quiet.  There was no one else in the house.  At least that’s what I hoped.  Just Lulu the awesome cat.  She couldn’t have made that sound.

I dried my hands and tip-toed toward the music.  There was Lulu on the dining room table in a large bowl.  It’s what I call a low bowl because it has a low rim, or side.  I watched quietly.  She didn’t know I was there.  She lifted a front paw and swiped the rim of the bowl.  What a wonderful dulcet sound it made.  She did it again.  Another sweet tone.

Who knew a cat could do something like that?!  When the children were little we had a cat that played the piano, but this is a whole new level of feline musicality.  I tried to take a video so I could maybe enter Lulu in a kitty-cat talent show, but I was too slow.  I’ll try to be ready the next time she plays for me.What did I do for entertainment before Lulu came to stay?

A fun day at the Mint Museum.

A museum is a place where one should lose one’s head.                    ~ Renzo Piano

F (age 10) and I had an entertaining  day at the Mint Museum Uptown.  You can see him in silhouette here in front of the entrance to the Craft and Design wing of the building.  I wish I could explain to you what this colorful piece is, but I can’t.  In fact, even if you and I were standing in front of it, I still wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly what it is or how it was designed and constructed.  F watched a good bit of the video about its construction; I was busy examining the piece and snapping photos.  I did hear the artist/craftsman say one thing that impressed me.  He said he would get it to a certain stage and then ask people what they thought, what they would add or take away, etc.  I may be wrong, but I don’t think artists typically do that.  It’s a beautiful, interesting, and eye-catching piece, whatever it is.

We enjoyed the hands-on room.  Above right F is picking up a pail to feed the chickens.  His action caused the rooster to rise up and announce the day.  There are several sections in this room and each section gets its inspiration from the work of a particular artist.  The daily life on a farm takes its inspiration from Romare Bearden’s paintings.  Bearden was born in Charlotte (We claim him!) but soon moved with his family to New York City.  His connection to his southern rural roots apparently never left him, as his early works show.  Many of his paintings are depictions of African-Americans as they lived their lives.  I am powerfully attracted to his use of vivid color.  Read more about Romare Bearden here.  Charlotte is fortunate to house the largest collection of his vast body of work here at the Mint Museum Uptown.

You may have guessed by now that the Mint Museum of Charlotte has more than one site.  The other, and original, site is the Mint Museum Randolph.  Randolph is simply the name of the street where that branch resides.   The oldest section of the Randolph building was the first branch of the United States Mint.  Many people don’t know that Charlotte had a mint right in downtown Charlotte in the 1800s.  There was actually a gold mine near here and the U.S. Mint operated here from 1836 until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.  You can learn more about the Museum’s history here.

This post is fast becoming too long.  Now that I’m retired I have time to become really excited about local attractions and history, and so I could go on and on.  I get even more excited about spending a day out with a ten-year-old boy.  If you should have the opportunity to accompany a child this age (or thereabout) on a trip to almost anywhere, do it.  The conversation is stimulating and fascinating.  We talked about racial prejudice, the class bully and how happy he will be when school is out for the summer.  I was thrilled to learn how he felt about these important topics.  Kudos to his parents for a job well done.