From My Carolina Home

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An Awesome Day

After months of anticipation, the Eclipse day finally arrived.  Knowing we needed to get up early, DH set the alarm for 6 am.  But, sleep was elusive due I think to a mixture of anticipation and dread.  I dreaded the heat and humidity, hours of what I thought would be boredom, uncertainty of the weather and the traffic going both ways.  On the other hand, it was going to be a once in a lifetime experience for us to see a total eclipse.  I remember some partial ones in childhood, and in my early adulthood, but not the full Monty! We were out of bed before the alarm went off, I had been awake since probably 5:15 am.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

We out the door by 7, meaning to get to our chosen destination of Table Rock Park on Hwy 11 in Pickens County, South Carolina. Going down the mountain was lovely, fog was settled between the mountains and the drive wasn’t bad at all with traffic.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

We were lucky to get to the park while there were still spaces to park. Shortly after we found a spot, I noticed that the cars had stopped coming in. We had made it inside before they cut off allowing more people in. It was still early enough that we decided to do the 1.9 mile hike around the lake. I said it was really 2 miles if you counted the walk from the car to the trailhead. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Limiting the number of people made a pleasant day, as it wasn’t crowded. There were plenty of people, but plenty of room.   Most everyone was setting up on a meadow next to the lake, where there was a small beach.  Others were up near the road, and others walked out of the park over to the other side of the hwy to the larger meadow near the visitor center.  We decided our smaller parking area in the Hemlock lot was just fine.  There was space at the car for us to set up chairs, and we had shade from the trees around the area.  Best of all, the area overhead looked like we’d have a good view, as long as the sun didn’t dip too low in the west.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

The lake was smooth as glass.  But no breeze made for an oppressively hot day with very high humidity.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

A well marked trail led into the woods around the lake. Of course we used a lot of bug spray before setting out. I didn’t want to start a tick collection.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Weaving around the trees and lush foliage all in shades of green, we could get a peek at the lake here and there as we went around.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Table Rock Mountain came into view on the far side of the lake.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

There is a dam with a spillway tucked into the foliage. The grey brick was really pretty with the water flowing down.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Mushrooms were everywhere, not surprising in the humid climate.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

This section of the outbound creek just down from the spillway had an interesting rock formation.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

We made it around the lake, then went back to our car to sit in our chairs and read until the show began. We kept looking at the clouds, and wondering if we would get anything at all. The clouds were moving around, different levels in the atmosphere were going in different directions, and it was maddening to watch this and wait.  We spent the next 3 hours reading and talking.  We had the small parking lot to ourselves at this point, everyone else had gone elsewhere to watch the show.  So we moved into the middle of the parking area, set up the good camera and watched the sky.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

The clouds gave us a tiny window right after 1 pm and we could see the first tiny bite of the moon’s shadow over the sun. Then it was covered up again.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

A few minutes later, another little window, and then it was gone.  I kept covering the camera with the white towel between runs of shooting the sun, hoping to keep the lens cool.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

The cloud cover kept doing this for a while, until I was able to get this shot without the solar filter as the clouds were just thick enough to obscure the brightness, while allowing the shadow to be seen.  Interesting, isn’t it?  The clouds are showing up as grey shadows, while the blue sky area is white with the sun’s light.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Then our luck changed, and the clouds broke away completely, giving us an unobstructed view of the incredible celestial event.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

I took 91 pictures that day, but no I won’t bore you with all of them, LOL!!

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

I do not know why the camera picked up all this extra color dots and diamond shapes as the ‘diamond ring’ formation came.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

I think this is one of the Baily’s Beads (in the 10 o’clock position), light coming through the valleys on the surface of the moon just before totality.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Totality, in full view!

2017 Total Eclipse at From My Carolina Home

It is interesting to see the pictures, and how the corona changes. It is a constantly changing thing, although the changes are subtle between these pictures.  They look at first glance like they are the same, but there are very slight differences.

2017 Total Eclipse at From My Carolina Home

Amazing. The light changed completely during totality losing the yellow tones and going a weird bluish green like a strange twilight on another world. The woods got quiet (while the crowd around the corner cheered).

2017 Total Eclipse at From My Carolina Home

2017 Total Eclipse at From My Carolina Home

More Baily’s beads?

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

We stayed for most of the show, watching the sun re-emerge.

Eclipse 2017 at From My Carolina Home

The drive home took just over 2 hours, as we avoided the main road and went by the back roads up old 25, and through Flat Rock. We ordered a pizza on the way home and picked it up on the way. It was good to take a shower and just enjoy the rest of the evening, reflecting on the majesty of our universe.

If you have the solar eclipse glasses, don’t throw them away.  Recycle them by donating them to Astronomers Without Borders, who will redistribute them to children in Africa who are in the path of the 2019 eclipse.  You can mail your used, certified ISO glasses to:

Explore Scientific
621 Madison St.
Springdale, AR 72762

Did you see the Great American Eclipse? Or have you seen another one?

 

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Preparing for the Eclipse

The date is getting closer to see the Solar Eclipse, the first eclipse that will be visible across the entire US in 99 years.  For most of us, this one will be a once in a lifetime experience.  It is logical that millions of people will take advantage of the opportunity, but planning will be essential.  The area of total 100% eclipse goes across the country, and everyone in the US will be able to see at least a partial eclipse.  We are planning to travel just an hour to get into the total zone.  Last weekend we did a trial run to scope out the area, locate bathrooms and figure out parking options anticipating that there will be a lot of people with the same idea.

©Michael Zeiler, GreatAmericanEclipse.com, used with permission

Discussing the day, we have made lists of things to do and take for this spectacular day.  I started a bag of things to take, adding to it as I think of things.  Research on other sites gave me some ideas as well, such as taking a white towel to cover the camera so it won’t get as hot being in the sun for hours.  At this point, I think I have everything we might need for a day, and here is our list of essentials.

Sunscreen  – Bug Spray – Special Eclipse Viewing Glasses – hat
Paper Towels – A roll of Toilet Paper (anticipating that will be the first thing to run out)
Cooler with food, water, ice and snacks to last the whole day
Folding Chairs – umbrella – canvas drop cloth and a quilt to lay on
Camera – Solar Filter – tripod – white towel to cover the camera to keep it cooler – extra memory card, extra battery
Books to read, and tunes to pass the time.

Patience.

We got our glasses and camera filter at GreatAmericanEclipse.com, which also has a tremendous amount of information on the eclipse.  Please do not try to observe any of the partial eclipse with your naked eye, even a 99% eclipse still has enough brightness to damage your eyes or camera lenses.  Regular sunglasses are not enough.  When you put on the solar glasses, they are so dark that you cannot see anything through them under normal light, but look directly at the sun through the glasses, and you can see the sun.  The camera filter does the same thing.

Solar Pictures at From My Carolina Home

It is recommended that you take pictures of the sun ahead of the big day so you are confident of the camera settings using the very dark filter.  So, we have been doing just that. DH took this one as our first attempt.

Solar Pictures at From My Carolina Home

This is a picture of the sun through the trees. The camera wants to focus on the trees so it comes out blurred, but the outline of the sun is visible.

Solar Pictures at From My Carolina Home

Forcing the focus to the brighter area, it decreases the light but the edge is now obscured by the trees.

Solar Pictures at From My Carolina Home

I did find that focusing on the edge of the sun gave a sharper line and amazingly a nice gradient color to the sun.

Solar Pictures at From My Carolina Home

If you are interested in the history of eclipses, the NASA website has a lot of interesting information, including interactive maps and major events in history occurring with total eclipses in the past.  Click on NASA Total Solar Eclipse.  The main NASA webpage, Eclipse 2017, has activities, resources, printable pinhole viewers, and information on experiencing the eclipse this year.  A day ahead, be sure to charge your camera battery (both of them), assemble your essentials, and get your snacks prepared.  Here’s hoping the crowds aren’t too bad and are well behaved.

What are your plans for the eclipse?


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Late July in the Garden

It is hard to believe, but I haven’t done a post about my garden in a month.  There has been a lot going on between the Christmas In July hop and the Safelight Project, but I know some of you like to know what is growing and flowering on our mountain.  Today, I’ll show you how my garden grows. I have taken photos of this group several times over the past month, and it just keeps getting prettier. The vibrant red geranium is set off nicely next to the white petunias. That pink variegated coleus is getting really tall now too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Lettuce and garlic are coming up well in the pot on the right. Calibrachoa in three colors planted in two pots bloom only sporadically. The daisies in the back are done.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

White begonias are overflowing several pots on the veranda.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

After having my Summer Luncheon and giving away a bunch of day lilies, one of my guests dug up the white iris in her own garden she didn’t want anymore and dropped them off  on my veranda with a gerbera daisy. Those went into the ground the same day.  I love getting new plants!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The phlox is getting a bit taller, and the color of the flowers got a bit lighter.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Fresh parsley is wonderful for cooking, and this one is doing well with the yellow Calibrachoa.  Some of the parsley went into the shrimp risotto we had for dinner this week, adding a wonderful fresh flavor.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Multiple basil plants are giving me lots of fresh leaves for caprese salads with heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

These are Cherokee Purple tomatoes, cannot wait for them to ripen!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The tomatoes in this pot are coming along too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

These are cherry tomatoes in the front bed, hoping for a good harvest here too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Early in the month, the mornings were crisp and cool, perfect for sitting outside in the early dawn hour, listening to the birds. I found it was a great time to get some pictures of the choir in their natural setting.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Apparently there was a meeting scheduled, but I didn’t get the memo to attend.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

There were still plenty of birds visiting the feeder too. This young female cardinal stopped by.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Goldfinches stay here year round.  A male and female were in the tree, looking around and taking their turn at the feeder.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Now that I know what the wood thrush looks like, I have seen him quite often.  Oops, brain glitch, this is a purple finch, thanks, Jan!!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Other mornings dawned foggy, lasting a couple of weeks, giving us humid, and (for us) hot days near 90°F (32°C).

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

There are a bunch of apricot gladiolas on the mountainside out back, I think some were planted by the previous homeowner and some may be volunteers. Either way, they are difficult to get to. But DH got out the limb lopper and managed to get some blooms for me to enjoy in vases in the house.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I put them in vases with some of the pinkish hydrangeas and a few tall purple hosta blooms. They look really good with my Stacked Bricks table quilt.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

After those were done, it was time for the yellow gladiolas to bloom, pretty aren’t they!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Our resident skink made an appearance.  Usually he runs away with any movement, but this time I caught him from the veranda while he was hiding below near the hydrangea.  He ran inside the drain pipe, then slowly peeked out to see if the coast was clear.  I think there is a good size family that lives here, and I like that they eat a lot of bugs.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The snapdragons are still going, and I put the white iris in with them.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

White petunias bloom nicely in the front flowerbed next to more snapdragons.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A woodpecker watches as I water the garden.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The hydrangeas are still blooming too.  After I took more pictures of the gorgeous blooms I deadheaded the bush.  This lavendar color is so clear and pure.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I did add some lime to the top in the hopes that I’ll get some more pure pink blooms like this one.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

This one is blue to lavendar on the same flower, such gorgeous colors!

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Looks like the African violets are going to bloom again too, unlike me they love the heat and humidity.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The northern flickers are back too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A friend gave me this adorable birdhouse for the garden, and it looks perfect in the big pot next to the front door. I have been a bit disappointed in the lobelias, usually they give profuse vibrant blue flowers all summer long, but this year they aren’t doing as well.  The chocolate variegated coleus is getting bigger, and the begonia is blooming a bit too.

Late July in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

So, that is the garden in July.  The torenias stopped blooming for a bit, I think they got stressed when we were gone to Lexington for a few days.  They are beginning to bloom again, but will take a couple of weeks to fully come back.  I did see the hummingbird one morning while watering the flowers, she came up and hovered right in front of my face.  It was a magic moment, and I watched her in wonder.

What’s going on in your garden?

 

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Reflections on an Early Morning

Sometimes I am up really early in the morning, and have the wonderful opportunity to witness the sunrise over the mountain to the east. There is just something about the light in the early morning that is different from evening. I’ve never been able to describe the difference, but I can see it. It somehow seems softer, more pure.

Early Morning 3

The torenia baskets seem to turn their faces to the morning light.

Early Morning 2

A view down the veranda. Quiet. Peaceful.  Only bird song breaks the silence.

Early Morning 7

Noticing the shadows of the railing on the flooring boards, a gentle breeze moves the leaf shadows ever so slightly.

Early Morning 1

Hot coffee and a cool morning, perfect to reflect on our many blessings, and enjoy the beauty of our little corner of the world.  It is also a great time to just think, and I have been doing some designing in these quiet hours too.  I will have a new quilt pattern for you soon.

Early Morning 4

The valley has a different look to the layers of hills and distant mountain ridge with the light from the east.  We face south so the east is to the left in this picture.

Early Morning 5

The bird feeder was seeing a lot of visitors on this day.

Early Morning 9

Here and there, dew drops had formed on flowers.

Early Morning 13

Interplay of light and shadow make interesting shapes.

Early Morning 14

I really liked the shadow on this lobelia trailing tendril, this may be a photo entry in the fair later this year.  The shapes are interesting, and the clear light made a sharp edged shadow.

Early Morning 17

Looking up, the clouds looked like flying visitors.

Early Morning 18

Light and shadow on the driveway down the mountain, in the golden morning.  Reminiscent of a time gone by, of a slower day, time to be still and breathe.

Early Morning 20

The blue jay calls, and the chickadees answer.  A titmouse, a wren and a nuthatch join the choir.  This is a morning for gratitude, for our lives, our freedom, our beautiful home and property, our family and friends, our many blessings.  Count your blessings today, and remember those who have protected our freedom.  Have a wonderful Memorial Day.

 

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My blog is a variety of subjects, quilting and sewing, tablescapes and recipes, book reviews and hand stitching, crafting and mountain living. I love to have new followers, too!  See the buttons on the sidebar to follow by your favorite method.  If you are visiting from Fave Quilts, Pinterest, a blog hop or link up, please stay a bit and have a look around, my tutorials are gathered at the top in pages to make them easy to find.  Lots of fun is had here, and I invite you to follow with any of your favorite methods, see the sidebar for ways to follow.  Click on the Home page to see the latest posts on the blog.


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December Mountain Living

We had a real cold snap last weekend, and as much as I’d love a white Christmas, it isn’t in the forecast for this year.  Somehow, the cold makes the skies crisp at night, lots of stars out to see.   Occasionally, I have a bout of insomnia, and this particular morning I was glad, as the sunrise over the mountains to the east of ours was spectacular.  Rain was on the way, and dawn brought brilliant color to the sky, seen through the architecture of the bare trees.

December Dawn 1

The wider view was difficult to get the brilliance of the dawn, but you can see the color was most of the horizon over the mountains.

December Dawn 3

Out in the valley, the color there was beautiful as well.  My camera just doesn’t do this justice, I’d need a wide angle lens to show you the true grandeur of this moment.

December Dawn 4

Our avian visitors have been eating us out of birdseed, emptying the feeder in just a few days rather than over a week.  I am thinking some of the other neighbors have stopped filling their feeders for the winter, so these guys are hungry.  We have such a wide variety right now too, titmice and nuthatches, cardinals and chickadees share the feeder, sometimes with 8 or 9 on the feeder at once. I managed to get one shot of seven at once – two chickadees, two nuthatches, and three goldfinches.

December Bird visitors 4

The goldfinches are regular visitors, wearing their duller brown coats for winter.

December Bird visitors 7

A blue jay comes around from time to time.

December Bird visitors 1

But the biggest surprise was seeing a pileated woodpecker gobbling up the suet.  He made short work of a lot of the seed in the feeder too.

December Pileated Woodpecker 1

I could not believe he could land on such a small spot!

December Pileated Woodpecker 2

The crows finished off the pumpkin and DH threw away the shells.  This week I put out the insides of a spaghetti squash and they brought their buddies to polish off the treat.  I think the squirrels got some of it as well.

December Crows 2

December Crows 4

Then these guys showed up.  Robins!!  In winter!

December Robins 4

There were more than a dozen of them, and I got pics of some of the individuals.  They were scattered over the lawn and the meadow, in the trees and down the driveway.

December Robins 3

I couldn’t get a clear picture of the group, and they were gone in an hour.  DH thinks they are migrating south, but I thought they would have done that by now, unless we are near the end of the journey.  It has been too warm through fall so maybe they stayed longer than usual.

December Robins 2

We had doves and towhees stop by in the last few days too, but no pictures, they flew off when they sensed movement.  DH saw a purple finch on the feeder last weekend. The cardinal finally showed up again, I have missed him and his lady.

December Bird visitors 6

The turkeys haven’t been by in more than two weeks, so I think they have moved on for the winter.  I was saving some bread for them, but I think I’ll spread my mixture of bacon fat and peanut butter on the slices and press birdseed into them for the suet feeder.

Are you feeding birds now?  Who is visiting at your place?

 

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November Visitors on the Mountain

The last few days have seen some really amazing sights.  Having a camera with a really good zoom lens has helped to capture some spectacular pictures of our regular visitors.  Often I am unable to grab the camera fast enough to get good photos of the visitors, but this week was a banner week. First, early one morning the turkeys came by, this time the two males had joined the female flock, and they were showing off. I love it when they fluff up and strut, and this particular morning was one of those very rare instances where they gave a magnificent display.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

The two males seemed to be in competition parading around the females.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

They both puffed up their feathers, spread their tail fans and strutted their stuff for quite a while.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

The funny thing is that the females seemed unimpressed, they kept pecking at the acorns, and didn’t pay a lot of attention to the poor guys.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

Marvelous, aren’t they?  They would fluff up and stand for a moment, then slowly turn in a circle in order to show off from all sides.  Then they would take a few steps in one direction and turn again.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

It was like they were in a pageant!

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

Poor boys, doing all they could to get the attention of the girls and not being very successful.  Look at me!  Look at me!

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

After a while, the whole flock moved off to the woods, with the boys still strutting their stuff as they went.

November Turkeys at From My Carolina Home

Then, one of the four foxes living nearby made an appearance. I first spotted it walking on the driveway circle, and it strolled over to the meadow. I was in such a hurry to take photos, this one was between the railing on the porch from inside the house. I was afraid to go outside as I thought the noise would make the fox run away.

Fox visit November at From My Carolina Home

Magnificent, isn’t it?

Fox visit November at From My Carolina Home

It sat on the edge of the meadow for a minute….

Fox visit November at From My Carolina Home

scratched under its neck…

Fox visit November at From My Carolina Home

looked around a bit, then wandered off to the forest.

Fox visit November at From My Carolina Home

It is wonderful to live with all this wildlife. Mountain living at its best!  I saw on the news that the black bears are going to be later in hibernating this year because it is still so warm, and there have been more sightings in residential communities north of us.  I haven’t seen any here lately, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t around.

What’s happening in your neighborhood?

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Autumn on the Veranda

Color is finally showing in some of the trees, and I wanted a pretty veranda for our recent company to enjoy. I thought it would be nice to add a quilt to the tableau, fall inspired and cozy feeling. The little pie pumpkin will become pumpkin bread in a couple of weeks.  I found dark red chrysanthemums at the local store, and got two.  I couldn’t resist putting a small quilt out too.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

A larger pumpkin is sitting near the front door, with the other deep red chrysanthemum.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

The begonias and impatiens are still blooming, and I cannot bear to throw them out while they are.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

I did bite the bullet on the torenia hanging baskets, and took them down. They really were ragged. There was a lot of green still in the forest when I rearranged the pots to form this grouping in the corner of the veranda. Those pink flowers just don’t go with my fall theme, but I am still watering them.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

My thrift store find Halloween metal hanger is hanging on the outside wall, just down the way a bit from the harvest wreath near the door.  It is fun, even though we have never had trick-or-treaters.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

At the last minute before company came, I found two orange daisy plants, so I put them in a basket and placed them with the pumpkin. It made a festive fall grouping near the door.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Along the driveway, the trees began to show a bit of autumn in the past week.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

There was a bit more coming along farther down the driveway.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Early one morning last week, I pulled up the shade in the kitchen window to this lovely scene. It is so pretty when an early morning fog settles into the valleys. The layers of hills and mountain are brought into sharper relief with the fog.  The rising sun over the mountain to the east lit the neighbor’s tree beautifully.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Zooming the lens a bit closer, lovely isn’t it?

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

It still is too warm, and I am looking for it to cool off more.  I am working on Scrap Dance 3 for you, dear readers. More on that a bit later.

autumnjubileelogo

Today is the last day to enter all the drawings, so if you missed one, you have time today to get in a comment.  I’ll be drawing winners tomorrow and notifying you by email.  We will wrap up Autumn Jubilee Friday.

Autumn On the Veranda at From My Carolina Home

Is there some color at your part of the world?

 

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