Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hooray For Harry

On Saturday, DH and I saw the last Harry Potter movie.  We drove to the theater with mixed feelings; we were excited because we'd been looking forward to seeing the movie, but a bit sad because we knew that it was the last one.  The end of the journey.

Our son convinced me to read the book the summer after his fourth-grade year.  I loved it; I encouraged my husband to read it, and thus we began a wonderful family adventure.  Seven years of reading all the books in the series, and ten years of going to see the movies.

The character, Harry Potter, was 11 years old in the first book, and our son was eleven when we chaperoned his fifth-grade class to see the very first movie.  Yep, there were kids there from age 10 to age 40 :-)  Then when our son got a little older, he went to see the movies with his friends and their parents, or his friends came along with us.  And finally, after sophomore year in high school, he decided he was too old for Harry Potter.  A lot of his college friends are still seeing the movies, but our son has moved on.

I noticed when we saw the last movie that most of the audience was our age (which might have been because we went to the matinee showing).  But my husband says that a good story has something in it for everyone.  The Harry Potter books have excitement, imagination, wonderful humor, poignancy, and unforgettable characters.  And they're allegorical.  Yes indeed; they teach wonderful lessons about friendship, loyalty, courage and the choices we make in life.

The actors began acting in these movies as children about the age of our son.  Like him, they've grown up too.  But to us, they'll always be those beloved Hogwarts students -- Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Luna and Neville.

Thanks for the memories, J.K.R.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Old Salem, North Carolina

I had planned to save this post for a later time, but I decided to go ahead and publish it now, because it has some pretty summer flowers and gardens, and it is definitely still summer around here.

I'm trying to learn about photo composition, and I have a lot to learn.  So, I've been practicing.  I have learned that light, too much or too little of it, is crucial to good pictures.  And we all know that the quality of light is different at different times of day, as well as different times of year.

On Monday of this week, I went to Old Salem to take some more photos for a follow-up to a post I did a few weeks ago, which you can read about HERE.  I started taking pictures at about 10:30 a.m., and it was already pretty bright outside at that time.  I got some good pictures, but when I looked at them on the computer, I realized I wanted a softer light.  So, I went back in the evening with my husband and took a few more.

Then on Tuesday morning, DH had to be at work at 7:00 a.m., so I took the camera with me, and after dropping him off at the office, I went straight to Old Salem, and started photographing around 7:15 a.m.  I found the light to be much better, and the quality of the pictures to be better as well.

There's so much to photograph in this small, historic community.  There are colonial merchant's shops with wonderful, painted wooden signs.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Finding Mitford

Have you read the Mitford books by Jan Karon?  No?  I highly recommend them; I really do.  Hopefully, you'll be drawn into the stories and feel like you know all the characters -- in some cases, better than you know your own neighbors. 

The characters in the Mitford books are mostly southern, very human, and oh-so-funny.  These books make me laugh out loud, and I really love a book that does that.  Karon's use of southern dialect is so humorous and realistic; one of the men in the books is always saying "buddyro", which I haven't heard anyone say since I was a child.  Having grown up in the south, the characters and dialect really strike a chord with me.  But you don't have to be southern to appreciate the books; the people and themes are universal.  I imagine if you look around, you can find real-life Mitford's all over the country.

The stories take place in the fictional town of Mitford, which is based on the town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina.  Jan Karon was living in Blowing Rock when she wrote most of the series; in fact,
the first book was printed serially in the small-town newspaper, The Blowing Rocket.

If you liked the books, you might enjoy seeing what some of the real places actually look like; if not, you can just enjoy seeing a really cute mountain town.  Unfortunately, Blowing Rock has become something of a tourist destination, so it's almost impossible to to find a time to visit when it's not crowded.

We took a lot of pictures, so this will be a two-part post.  You can see Part Two of "Finding Mitford" HERE.  The first group of pictures are of the church.

Love these beautiful foxgloves!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Let Freedom Ring"

It's the fifth of July, and I'm just now writing my Independence Day post.  Hubby went back to work today, after spending last week recovering from his orthopedic surgery.  I'll be driving him to and from the office for a while because his car is a manual transmission, and he can't change gears with his right hand at the moment; we're not sure how long before he can.  His arm is in a soft cast/sling, and we have a follow-up visit with the surgeon this Friday.

I've missed blogging.  I have tried to look at a few of your posts, but haven't had much time to do so.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday!  We could hear the fireworks in our neighborhood until close to midnight last night.

We ate at my parents' house on Sunday, July 3rd (it was my Dad's birthday), and then we ate at my in-laws' house on July 4th.  The food was wonderful at both places, and it was nice to get out of our house for a bit.  I had already bought some things to set a Fourth of July table with, so I did get to set it up (a few days late).  Most of the things I already had, but I did get a few new things.  I just hated to save it until next year, so I did a tablescape. 

You won't see any outdoor tables on my blog (at least not for awhile) because we don't have a good outdoor area to spend time in the spring and summer.  It's one of the things that I'd like to improve about our house, but it's just not in the budget until our son finishes college.  My kitchen needs a makeover as well, so that's why most, if not all, of my tablescapes will be in the dining room.  If I were doing an outdoor table, or a table on a screened porch, I would do something lighter with more of a festive, party feel.  But since I'm using the dining room, I went with more of a historic theme.

I truly enjoyed creating this table because I really LOVE history.  This weekend, we watched several parts of a series on the History Channel called "The Revolution".  It's a 13-part series and is available on DVD, but we recorded as many episodes as we could.  We stumbled upon it by accident Sunday night, and it was so interesting, we set up our DVR to record it.   DH and I learned so many things about the American Revolution that we had never known.  It seriously amazes me that a small, ragtag, but determined army was able to defeat the British, the most powerful empire on earth at that time.

For my table, I used white dinner plates and blue and white salad plates.  I used our everyday flatware,
Oneida "Colonial Boston".  Very appropriate for an Independence Day table, I thought.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Little Williamsburg"

I'm celebrating Independence Day all this week -- at least on my blog.  Mr. Forest Manor had his out-patient surgery last week, and thankfully, he's doing well.  After I picked him up from work this afternoon, we drove to Old Salem so I could take some pictures while they still had their historic flags out for the Fourth of July.  I grew up in this area and have pretty much lived nearby all my life, and I never get tired of Old Salem.  I LOVE it there.  Years ago we read in a local newspaper or magazine (can't remember which) that Old Salem is like a "Little Williamsburg".  That was probably a tad ambitious :)  Old Salem is quite a bit smaller than Williamsburg, and they don't offer as many events; but it is quite old for this country, and I think it's charming.  You can read my second post about Old Salem HERE.

Old Salem was built in 1766 and features a living history museum that interprets the restored Moravian community. The Moravian church has its origins in ancient Bohemia and Moravia, in what is now the Czech Republic.  To escape religious persecution, the Moravians came to America, where they settled in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Salem (now Winston-Salem), North Carolina.  Like Williamsburg, Old Salem does historical re-enactments, and the tour guides and interpreters all wear 18th century traditional Moravian costumes.

George Washington visited Salem in 1791 and slept at the Old Salem Tavern.  And this has nothing to do with Colonial America or July 4th; but... the first Krispy Kreme store opened in Old Salem in 1937;)  The doughnuts were made using potato flour, an old Moravian practice.  So that's it for facts in this post; let's look at some pictures.

Hanging in front of this shop is the Grand Union flag, commonly regarded as the first (unofficial) American flag.

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