Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Greetings

I wanted to pop in and wish everyone out there a fun, magical, and happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A trip the North Carolina Museum of Natural History

Last week a friend and I spent an afternoon at the North Carolina Museum of Natural History in Raleigh, NC. I've visited this museum several times over the years and I enjoyed taking a friend along this time. I could spend days lingering over the exhibits and learning about the natural history of the Carolinas.

I took photos of the highlights of the visit to share with the blog. Enjoy!

Behold, the Carolina Parakeet. They were once the most northern ranging New World parrot species, and were plentiful up through Florida and Georgia and into South Carolina. Sadly, these beautiful birds went extinct in the early 20th century. I can't imagine how wonderful it would have been to have had flocks of native parrots living outside my back door. What a terrible shame it is when a species becomes extinct.

Some other animals that call North and South Carolina home:

The iconic, majestic Bald Eagle.

White tail deer beside dogwood tree.

There were also real animals on display. Like these charmers:

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
Crotalus adamanteus
Carolina Pygmy Rattlesnakes
Sistrurus miliarius miliarius
Eastern Hognose snake
Heterodon platirhinos
Copperhead Snake
Agkistrodon contortrix

Ok, this last guy is kinda cute.

I can do without the snakes though. Especially poisonous snakes like these (with the exception of the Eastern Hognose).

By far, my favorite part of the museum is the dinosaurs!

I like that the bones of these next two are arranged beside pine trees and magnolias. The magnolia is a tree as ancient as the dinosaurs themselves.

Look at the size of this monster!
 Uh oh! Here comes Acrocanthosaurus!!!


A foot that size could crush a little kid.


 Speaking of ancient history......

As you may be able to read in the top photograph, this was a meteorite that landed in a farmer's field in North Carolina in 1936. It's age--roughly 4.5 billion years old--boggles the mind.

 There is a beautiful walkway in the museum that crosses a main intersection in downtown Raleigh. It leads to an awesome discovery center with interactive displays and working labs. I love the view from the walkway.

When my friend and I left for the day, I stopped on the sidewalk to snap a picture of the little church across the street...


...and the trolley pub rounded the corner, and a dozen or so intoxicated people waved and cheered to us as they passed! Downtown Raleigh is a fun place to hang out. And the museum is a real treasure.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Family time

Next week should be interesting, and possibly a little bit stressful. My mother in law is coming for an extended visit. As in, at least a week and possibly more. God help me!

Don't get me wrong: she's a lovely woman, and dear to us. We've been trying to arrange a long visit for months now. I'm glad she's coming, just a bit overwhelmed at the thought. The truth is, she's almost 80 years old, and beginning to slip a bit mentally. Her short term memory has been getting progressively worse for the past year or two. She gets confused easily and often forgets names, or words she means to use, or what she just told you 10 minutes ago. Physically, she's in pretty good shape considering her age, but she clearly is in the early stages of some type of dementia. (The doctors say it's not Alzheimer's, thank goodness). Overall, her memory issues aren't that big of a deal at this point. It's just that it's too easy to let months (and years!) slip by without spending enough time together as a family and before you know it, it's too late. Hence the long visit we have planned.

She lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband. I will be going to get her tomorrow. It's a 2-3 hour drive, so we aren't comfortable with her driving herself down these days. (She does still drive a little bit, but I imagine that those days are numbered). Her husband will come get her when she's ready, that way everyone will only have to make the drive once. I'm looking forward to going to Raleigh; a friend is driving up with me, and we're going to take in some of the city's sights, then spend the night with my in laws. We'll drive back home with my guest Monday afternoon.

 Gregg is excited to see his mom. They've only spent a few odd hours together since he got over being sick, and it will be good for both of them. I must admit I'm a bit nervous. We've never had any guest stay at our house for a whole week. I dread the extra work involved (planning meals, cooking, thinking of things to do, etc. etc.) and, more than that, the lack of alone time for me. I'm one of those people that needs and thrives on a certain amount of solitude. I definitely have some mixed feelings about the visit.

Still, family time is more important than any minor inconvenience it may cause. I hope we can all have fun together. I've been working hard to come up with ideas for things to do while she's here. I've also been working hard at cleaning our house. For once in my life, you can eat off my floors. Ha! Behold the power of a mother-in-law visit!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Marco hates zombies

I have a bird that loves to watch tv. He hangs out on the back of the couch every night and watches whatever happens to be on.

Which for the past week has been The Walking Dead. Season 3 just landed on Netflix and we've been catching up with Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Maggie, Herschel, and the rest of our favorite zombie killers.

Marco gets visibly agitated whenever the suspense builds and zombies attack. He runs all around on the back of the sofa, and even ducks behind our heads when the scenes get too intense. We finally put him back in his cage last night while finishing up the last two episodes of the season.

Marco, the zombie hating parrot:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Halloween: 31 favorite things

Inspired by my friend Jessica and her lovely blog Chronically Vintage I bring to you 31 things I love about Halloween (one for each day in October). Thanks for the idea dear Jessica!!

1. The spirit of fun in it! The costumes, the decorations, the candy, the parties, and the chance for the little kid deep inside your heart to come out and play awhile!

2. Trick or treating kids, especially ones with cute and/or clever costumes.

3. Picking out great treats to hand out. Candy shopping is serious business around here!

4. E.T.!!! A classic American Halloween film, and much loved in this house. It still makes me cry every. single. time.

File:ET Moon.jpg

5. Classic Halloween reading. Anything by Edgar Allen Poe, obviously, but also things like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and the stories of  H.P. Lovecraft.

6. Modern Halloween reading. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman (both the book and the movie for Practical Magic were great) Chris Bohjalian, Sarah Addison Adler, and a whole host of newer authors write plenty of scary, mystical, magical stuff to get you in the Halloween spirit!

7. Candy corn!! Yes, I know it's sugar coated sugar. I still love it. October wouldn't be the same without at least one good candy corn binge (and a guaranteed stomachache that will put me off the stuff for the rest of the year!)

8. Picking out pumpkins, gourds, and potted mums for a cheerful, welcoming front door.

9. Candy apples and cotton candy from the fair.

10. The fair!! It's in town this week. Nothing makes me feel like a kid again faster than the fair!

11. Jack o lanterns! I love planning them, carving them, and most of all, lighting them!

12. Halloween music! Oldies like "Monster Mash" as well stuff like "This is Halloween" from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas always get me in the mood for fun!

This is Halloween

13. All things purple, orange, and green!

14. Scary movies. From campy cult classics to 80's slasher films (the theme music from the Michael Myers movies still makes a chill go up my spine!), classic horror films to modern frightfests, nothing sets them mood for Halloween like a good scary movie!

15. All the iconic images: black cats, witches on broomsticks, white-sheeted ghosties, full moons, bats, spiders and spiderwebs, and the list goes on.

16. Parties and party games. Fortune telling, Ouija boards, apple bobbing, and all the other fun things we associate with Halloween parties.

17. Neighborhood yard displays, and the fun loving adults who go to so much trouble to set them up.

18. Pet costumes. Yes they're silly. They're still awesome!

19. Ghost stories.

20. Corn mazes, hayrides, and farm festivals.

21. Spook house tours. When I was a kid, even the elementary schools had them set up (along with other carnival activities) and charged admission for people to walk through and get scared. I would beg my dad to take me, then usually chicken out at the entrance (or spend the whole time with my face buried in his chest).

22. The new "build a pumpkin" app on my tablet. Halloween-themed memes, forwards, shared photos, and blog posts. The internet is fun this time of year!

23. Vampires. I love a good vampire story. And none of this wussy Twilight stuff, thank you very much! I came of age when vampires were still dangerous and cool. I loved the first Fright Night as a girl, and also The Lost Boys. As for books, it's hard to go wrong with the original Dracula.

24. Giant lawn leaf bags made to look pumpkins, and the people who use them!

25. Blog parties and giveaways. Although I've not had time to participate this year, I love reading blog parties posts in October. There is so much talent out in the blogosphere!

26. Seasonal scented candles.

27. Chex mix made with Reece's pieces.

28. The seasonal perfumes offered at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. If you've never checked them out, do yourself a favor and visit this link: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

29. Food, decorating, and lifestyle magazines chock full of Halloween craft, costume, and decoration ideas.

30. Leftover candy. Although I always try to be extra generous with the last few trick or treaters each year (who needs that much sugar in the house?) there is always some left over. And I buy the good stuff.

31. Reminiscing about Halloweens long past with my friends and family. Halloween is truly one of the joys of childhood.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October is here!

I love the month of October! Now it really, really feels like fall here in the Carolinas. Trees are sporting real autumn colors. The annual pumpkin sale at the church down the road has commenced. Our nightly walks with Ginger now require a light jacket or hoodie. And best of all, Halloween is on the way!

Several of our neighbors have already decorated their houses and yards for Halloween (or, in the case of older, more staid and/or religious folks, Autumn). I am excited to report that there are several new young families in our neighborhood, and this should mean a good turn out for trick or treating! I've got some special crafty treats planned for handing out, as well as ideas for jack o lanterns and other front step adornments to delight the kiddos. Here are some pictures from previous holidays (I'll be using some of the same decorations this year).


In other news as October opens, the dog I went to see at the shelter was no longer available when I got there. He's going to a rescue up in Washington, DC where a nice foster home is waiting for him. He was chosen for the program the day before I went to see him, so it just wasn't meant to be, I suppose. We're still deciding whether a second dog is a good idea anyway, so it's just as well for now.

The job search has stalled. It's going nowhere. I've looked hard for two months, and only one job has even been worth applying for. I had hoped to be giving notice by the beginning of October, but that is not meant to be either. I'll be taking a week off later this month with vacation days I'd been saving up to use for job interviews. A week off at the end of the month will be glorious...and not a bad consolation prize for the lack of interviews I had hoped to be having. And it will give me some time to do last minute crafty stuff for Halloween, too!

I'm excited October is here!