Friday, December 9, 2011

Rainy Days Never Get Me Down.

In September I reflected on diversity when visiting the Amish community near Berlin Ohio.  It was a beautiful day and a beautiful visit.  You can read about it HERE in my blog, Beyond My Garden but today's entry is different.  For one thing, it was rainy - very rainy.
Through a soupy fog that filtered our vision, newly formed corn shocks marched across stubbly golden fields.
Amber triangles resemble "Ewok" homes from the Star Wars movies. Each shock was assembled with skill and resources that do not come from OPEC members, 
though this "horsepower" does produce a few greenhouse gasses.
You remember that I mentioned that it was very rainy, right?
It was much easier to see the buggies equipped with safety lights.
We left the interstate at Dover Ohio and drove to Kidron to do a little Christmas shopping in Lehman's Non-Electric store.
Yes, it rained . . . all day.  Yes, we got wet . . . several times.
But our windshield wipers worked, we didn't melt and the road ahead was straight and clear.
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Log House Restaurant Part III

This will be our final day visiting Log House Restaurant in Wytheville, Virginia. Remember? I promised to take you outside, into the garden.  Well, let's go.
Our first stop is, actually still inside the cabin.  Where several rooms are joined there remains a very small open spot. In this spot, the owner keeps Eastern box turtles Terrapene carolina carolina
This is really the only thing I don't like about the restaurant.  Box turtles usually don't do well in captivity. We were told that the owner exchanges the turtles every-so-often with other turtles but I really don't like seeing them taken out of the wild.  I admit that I don't know the whole story. Perhaps the owner is  licensed to take care of the turtles or maybe they are part of a rehabilitation project. I asked if the owner was around for me to speak to but was told, "no."   
The turtle area is gray except for the yellow and orange of the female and male  Box turtles but look at that fern.  Prehistorically beautiful, right?
Now, outside, like I promised.
Statuary and art abound . . .
accented by color and form.

Flowers fill nooks and crannies
softening the edges of enclosures,
enclosures that hold surprises of their own. The pet rabbit is nibbling at the foot of what I think is an apartment house for doves.
If you come, I encourage you to dust off one of the seats and take it all in.

                                                                         There is much to see. Our last visit was in late August as summer was winding down toward autumn. Nodding sunflowers were setting seeds while the gardner pruned Trumpet vines at curbside. 
At the garden's edge, carpenters were working to complete another cabin.  Once completed, this one will house an artist's studio and shop.
So, I'll return another time to see what is new in the Log House Restaurant, linking our time with those who began building in 1776.
If you want to visit Log House Restaurant go all the way into Wytheville, Virginia.  Be careful that you don't go, instead to the  Log "Cabin" Restaurant which is closer to the interstate exit. I have never been there. the Log House Restaurant is in the old traditional part of town.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Log Houaw Restaurant Part II

Yesterday's post (CLICK HERE) may have left you wondering about the windows of Log Cabin Restaurant in Wytheville, Virginia.
Each,  like the one above, offers a unique view of the garden beyond.
Garden views seen through circular frames in the daylight, become circles of light at night, lit by tiny strands around each window.
No two are alike
Windows are nice but what lies outside beyond those them and beyond that door?
Come back tomorrow and see.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Log House Restaurant

Log House Restaurant in downtown 
Wytheville Virginia is a unique place to eat and visit.  Part of what makes it interesting is its history.  The original building was built in 1776.  It was added onto through those early years and in the more recent past. The cabin is rustic as is the restaurant and bar but both are interesting and a great place to stop. 
Jeff and I have stopped her twice while in-between those stops I took my mother for lunch on our way to Charlottesville Virginia. 
This is a perfect spot for lunch after leaving Charleston, WV just after a light breakfast. 
The most important thing you need to remember is to explore the buildings and grounds before you drive on down the road.  
The main dining room is small. The size of a large living room, it is set with a couple booths and tables. Lighting is low.
The dark floor planks have a rich patina that can only come with years of use. They are uneven and beautiful. Each area of the building uses a different flooring. One hallway has brick . . .
while another is glossy cement marked by horseshoes.
The ambience is free-spirited and original . . .
. . .with a somewhat random feel . . .
. . . and filled with unique architectural features.

Each labyrinth-like turn gives the curious wanderer a new tableau, often half-hidden in mysterious combinations of shadow and light.

No corner is lonely for each contains a planter overflowing with greenery or a pale pumpkin covered in a thin layer of dust or perhaps even a forgotten piece of art such as wrought iron or pottery.

Following the crooked hallways will take you to a room which serves the bar or private parties. This once, may have  been a springhouse. With open windows and a ceiling reaching up in its center the room feels like a gazebo that failed to retain its independence, choosing instead, to join the main house. 
The dim, shadowy bar, itself is fills your nose with the unmistakeable aroma of past lagers and ales.
Throughout the rooms and hallways are windows to the garden area.These are windows like few others.  But more about them tomorrow.  I hope you will come back then for more of the Log House Restaurant.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

VULCAN, part two

Yesterday I promised you more of the story.  Today's blog is full of adventure and thrills.  It starts where we left off, yesterday, at the Vulcan Center
Here,  you may not only learn the history of the statue and of the city of Birmingham, but also buy tickets to visit the top of the pedestal using either the steps or elevator.  I rode the glass elevator. When it opened at the top you have the choice of immediately riding it back down to the safety of the ground floor or you may behave much like the daredevil, Evel Knievel, and step out onto the grating which (I'm sure, jokingly) is referred to as a floor. Being in  an elevator filled with  insane people with no fear of death, I gathered my pride and stepped onto the grating, shakily making my way to the inner wall. 
Vulcan's sandstone pedestal. Note that if you can see up through the grating a visitor above sees through, as well
At this point I must tell my more sensible readers that the inner wall had no handrail. No, it was merely hand-carved sandstone from which we, more sanely cautious tourists were expected to walk around a giant metal man looking out at spectacular views of Birmingham, Alabama. 
It is a view not easily seen with one's eyes closed.
While my husband, Jeff and his cousin, Mike (very manly, somewhat immortal men who need no fear or caution to save them) casually sauntered around the statue. I cautiously also started walking.  As I rounded a corner toward the hill's front the wind picked up.  I used my brain along with a strong dose of caution, closed my eyes tightly then became one with the sandstone which I held tightly as I bravely inched back to where I had started.** At one point I heard our cousin, Scarlett meekly calling her husband, "Mike? Mike?" Scarlett is about as smart as they come and knew better than to step out of the stairwell without the support of an immortal such as Mike. 
After looking up to take in a immodest view of a god's well formed  backside I regained my courage and started around the other side of the statue, irrationally believing that it would be better on this side.  Once again I did alright until 'rounding the edge toward the front of the hill.  There was that obnoxious breeze again. I knew that if I proceeded that I, a mere mortal, would be lifted off the pedestal, blown over the railing, off of Red Mountain where I would be cast across the city of Birmingham until I was dropped in a splattering splash upon some car-filled parking lot.  With that thought firmly planted, I did the only sane thing and started sinking to the ground trembling like a jellyfish as an ocean of tears forced themselves from my fiercely clinched eye lids. I heard a slight laugh from Scarlett who still hovered by the stairwell, waiting for help from her human savior in the form of Mike.  I on the other hand, was thinking more eternal thoughts. 
View of wooded neighborhoods around Red Mountain
Her chuckling quickly turned to sympathy once she realized that I, often a jokester, was not anywhere close to humor.  My own hero,  hearing my distress, arrived to lift me in his arms and fly me safely  to the ground (well, hold me as I struggled to remain upright and walk back to the elevator) where I could once again use my mouth to form actual, understandable words. 
If you have read much of this travel blog then you know I don't do well where I can see just how high up I am. I really believe that my brain doesn't do so great at grabbing on the the idea of perception.

  I am, a child of the Earth, not the sky.
The self-wounding of my pride was quickly forgotten while we enjoyed watching children slide down the hill on sheets of cardboard. It looked fun though the cardboard looked small. My own sense of adventure was assuaged as I held my shirt to my sides and rolled down the hill.  I had no fear of falling for the Earth is my home and falling was my goal.
A nature girl tries to restore her sense of control
There was no splattering, no parking lot splashed with my remains, only a bit of grass to be dusted off and an equilibrium to be restored. 
**If a handrail had been present on the inside wall I am sure that I could have done it.  I could have held on with a strength that would have shamed the breeze.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

VULCAN, part one

Vulcan with his lightening bolt 
Vulcan, god of fire, both beneficial and hindering.  If you were a Roman Blacksmith then Vulcan would have been one of your favorites. If you were Greek you would have known him as Hephaestus The story goes that his parents, Zeus and Hera thought he was ugly and threw him out of Olympus. This made the young god sad. 
For the Romans it was Jupiter and Juno who threw out their ugly baby.  He fell for a day and a half, breaking his leg on the way, sinking to watery depths where he was cared for by the sea nymph, Thetis, who gave him a happy childhood where he learned to appreciate beauty.    
Vulcan once found a hot coal, made fire of it and discovered that with a blowing bellows would make the fire hotter. Voila the art of blacksmithing was on its way.  As a strong young man, Vulcan made many beautiful things out of heated metal such as the thrones of many of the other gods up on Mt Aetna
By-the-way, each of these gods  had different names in Greek and Roman. Each culture made different statues and pictures of the gods according their cultural tendencies. They were the same gods, just called by different names.  Each culture attributed some of its own characteristics to the gods but basically they were the same.  After all, a god didn't change who he or she was just because someone called it by a different name or pictured it differently. Some cultures even think of just one god who combines the powers of all these little gods.  This one god is god of everything, including all of creation. In these cultures sh-he (being both male and female)  is simply called God.
Vulcan was the god of the blacksmith, god of the foundry, a place where items are cast from molten metal. 
display representing some of the items cast in a Birmingham's foundry
One of the great American cities for foundries is Birmingham, Alabama.  Birmingham civic leaders chose a giant statue of Vulcan to represent them at the World's Fair in St. Louise Missouri. in  At that time, Birmingham was just a town whose economy was based on steel casting. The statue of Vulcan was an almost miraculous casting done in a very short time under the leadership of the Italian sculpture, Guiseppe Moretti
Detail of the Colossus designed by Guisseppe Moretti and cast in Birmingham
After the World's fair closed, Vulcan was disassembled and brought back to Birmingham where he wound up on the grounds of the Alabama state fair.  There he was assembled wrong with a hand on backwards and without even the power to hold his own spear. Afforded little dignity, Vulcan was used to hold advertising, including an ice cream cone and a Coke bottle. Finally, during the depression and after much debate, the colossus was reassembled in his very own park atop Red Mountain, now the center of a large city. Painted with aluminum paint and filled with concrete, the once-hollow statue was anchored firmly to the hill.
Birmingham, over the railing with a view of the airport in the distance
photo from
By the nineteen forties, most families owned a car. Vehicle accidents were becoming common so somebody decided it would be a good idea for Vulcan to remind people to drive safely.
In place of his spear he now held a light which glowed green on days with no fatal auto accidents and red when someone had been killed.
During the seventies the park was upgraded but the concrete inside contracted and expanded causing the statue to crack.  In 2003 a repaired vulcan, panted in what is believed to be his original gray, was once again raised upon its sandstone pedestal. The entire park was upgraded and now includes a very nice information center from which I obtained much of my information.  
Comfortable informative visitor center at Vulcan Park
This story will be continued tomorrow.  It is then you will discover how this writer battled the wind at the foot of Vulcan.

I just had to include the link to this album below because I heard the band this past weekend and loved it.  I wish I could buy from my own site so I could buy it here. HaHa Tonka is named after a park in Missouri.  They are Indie Folk/Rock with an unbelievable 4-part harmony on some a cappella  tunes.  They are full of youthful energy which they mesh with traditional Ozark Mountain music influences.