My town has no shortage of festivals this time of year. The Arts Festival was this past weekend, so we headed downtown again. As usual, lots of food vendors and booths with paintings, pottery and so on. We spent a fair amount of time in the kid's section where there were activities set up. Shaving cream swirl paintings, a spirograph-like thing, building a wooden bug-catcher, and this yarn web. It was a beautiful day and pleasant just being outside. We arrived with the younger daughter and left with the older.
Because we had three tickets that night at the Barter Theater. After a stop to change into dressier clothes, we drove up to Virginia and walked first to a cool little bistro for dinner. I had the special that night which had shrimp, asparagus, quinoa, olives and a pesto-based sauce that was absolutely delicious. Abingdon has a nice little main street and we walked around for a while before the show. I may or may not have chased a mallard duck while I was wearing a shortish dress and boots with heels. Then it was "Anything Goes," a 1930's musical with tons of costume changes, singing, and some slapstick comedy that I could have done without. And sailors dancing with mops. Because that's what sailors do, apparently. The best part was watching a 14-year-old girl let down her guard and become fully engaged over dinner and at the theater. I even enjoyed sitting with her the next morning in our pajamas watching an episode of "Parks and Rec."
And we have to have kidless outings once in a while. When the weather is nice, we love to have dinner out on the Square and then head over to the little speakeasy bar. The best part is that we can now walk in and ask the bartender for "the usual" and he says, "A Darcy and a Blantons?" Incidentally, I checked the menu for the ingredients of a Mr. Darcy - it's sparkling shiraz and limoncello.
I make it sound like we go out all the time, but we don't. Most nights is dinner at one house or the other. This night it was seared tuna.
But as often as possible these days, we eat outside on the deck. Yesterday I broke out the grill and made swordfish with tarragon butter (from last year's garden), grilled potatoes, greens, peppers and onions with lemon-chive butter, rosemary salt, and balsamic vinegar. If it's nice, we sit outside after dinner watching the bats emerge in the darkening skies. Have I mentioned how very easy it all is?
Oh. Well ours does. It's one of those fund raiser events, to get money for area schools.
Turns out that although the grounds opened at 11:00, they didn't actually start the races for a few hours. That meant time to kill. Some of the entertainment was fun - I liked these little girls dancing. I was less keen on the dance team of similarly aged girls in heavy make-up dressed in little more than bathing suit-like outfits with feathers. I don't think sexualizing young girls is a good idea. Why make them pedophile bait?
I was there with my boyfriend and his 8-year-old, so we spent some time walking around eating cotton candy and petting all the llamas.
Each participating school had a team in costume. There were Ninja Turtles and the characters from the Wizard of Oz and fairies. But the Napoleon Dynamite team was far and away the best. They nailed the characters, right down to the dance moves.
Their llama was of course, dressed as a Liger (Bred for its skills in magic!)
And then there was the llama parade. Mostly real llamas, but also these two kids in tall llama costumes.
Finally, it was time for the actual races. We stood at the starting line, where llamas and their local celebrity handlers. From our vantage point, I watched as one llama spit in the face of another handler's llama. Okay, so that's dubious entertainment. But I did enjoy it when one llama broke free and crossed the finish line well ahead of its handler. A silly event all the way around, but that was part of the fun.
I'm insanely busy and far behind on blogging. So I'll catch up a little with Easter Sunday afternoon, when my boyfriend and I headed down to the Smoky Mountains for a hike. Picnic first by the Little Pigeon River.
It was about 70 degrees at home that day and sunny, maybe just a bit cooler in the Smokies and perfect weather for a hike.
The trail started crossing Rhododendron Creek. Repeatedly. One of us had on a pair of sandals while the other had to stop and take her hiking boots off, wade across the creek and put them back on over and over. Yeah, that one was me.
I eventually decided to hike barefooted for a while until we'd left that creek behind and again on the way back. Fortunately much of the trail was carpeted in leaves and moss.
There were some early wildflowers in bloom. Trillium, one of my favorites.
And Turk's Cap Lily.
A few of the creek crossings had either stones that could be stepped on or convenient tree trunks to walk across. But mostly it was straight through the icy water.
This area was occupied by European settlers in 1800, but little remains of the homesites except for stone walls and piles of rock that once made chimneys.
On one former chimney there was a shard of old pottery resting on top of the rocks.
Over the gap and down to Injun Creek, a cartographer goof. It was actually named for the engine that toppled into the creek rather than the Native American/Indians in the area.
Apparently this self-propelled steam engine was use to go up the mountain to bring back wood for the school house in the 1920's.
The driver missed the switchback and the engine landed upside down in the creek and the wheels came off. Oops.
About 6 miles round trip. Every time I go for a hike, I wonder why I don't go more often.
When I bought this house last summer, the yard was just that - grass and not much else. Google maps is keeping the old vision of the house alive for me.
But what I see now is the beginning of a new look for it. Oh sure, the plantings are sparse. They'll fill in, though.
I'd decided not to do much in the way of planting this summer, but a couple of things I'd ordered last fall arrived and needed to go in the ground. The instructions on these flowering fern tubers was to soak them for half an hour before planting them. I'm not convinced they aren't pale carrots. Or weirdly elongated turnips. Or thin potatoes. But in they went.
Other than planting those and the toad lilies, cutting back the lirope and mowing once, I've not done anything in the way of gardening. Because I stay busy. I did harvest some daffodils for the table when I made this dinner (salmon with a ginger marmalade topping, zucchini and yellow squash with feta and balsamic vinegar glaze, roasted sweet potato slices and bread with garlic cheese). I think it's about time to fire up the grill and cook some meals outside.
And on some nice days we head downtown to eat at one of the restaurants with outdoor seating. Wednesday we had martinis and then dinner, with this friendly pup watching and hoping for more head scratches and possibly a treat.
I may be too busy to work much in the yard right now but I still enjoy watching last summer and fall's hard work pay off. Every day something new is in bloom and since I've forgotten exactly what I planted, much of it is just a wonderful surprise to me.