Step Into My Cave…

I’ve been a very bad blogger lately. It seems like the warm summer days are flying by in a blur of activity, one melting into the next. I’m surprised each night to find that I’ve barely had time to sit down before bedtime rolls around. And I’ve been working more, somehow, instead of less. Things on that front are very stressful and insanely busy due to staff shortages.

On a happier note, I have managed to squeeze in some scenic and interesting family day trips. The photos you see were taken at Linville Caverns, which is inside a mountain about 2 hours northeast of Asheville, NC. These are a few of the formations that have been created by water pressure over eons. The colors are the product of various minerals and semi-precious gems.

The caverns actually have 3 levels, but the public is only allowed to tour a small portion that has been stabilized. There is a “bottomless pool” that runs beneath the structure. Apparently, scientists have tried to measure it’s depth on several occasions using various tools, but they have yet to find the bottom. A nifty part of the tour involves having visitors wiggle their fingers in front of their eyes and then turning off all the lights. This is said to be one of only two places where one can experience the complete absence of light, the other being the bottom of the ocean.

I think they were mistaken, however. The third place would be a hospital lab:)

 

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

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This room represents so many things to me in a strange way. It was taken in March of 2013 in the Rotunda at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. I was having a grand time exploring the campus and the city during a brief business trip. Just a short week later, my life would change forever.

In the Winter of 2013, I had just taken a new part time job teaching laboratory procedures to nurses. The job would allow me to travel across the country and visit large medical centers. Free airfare, free meals, and great pay. It seemed like an exciting new adventure. This particular trip was only my second, the first being to Nashville, Tennessee. When I arrived at the hotel, I was pleasantly surprised to find my room overlooking a lovely pond inhabited by a pair of swans. A paved jogging trail meandered around the water and adjacent university buildings.

I only taught for a few hours during the day, so I either had mornings or afternoons to myself. The city of Charlottesville reminded me a lot of Asheville in some ways, yet it was steeped in a rich history that was palpable walking down the cobblestone streets where Thomas Jefferson and his contemporaries once stood. I thoroughly enjoyed the small shops and quaint hole-in-the wall restaurants nestled among venerable brick buildings and proud monuments. It was so nice to get away from everyday responsibilities, if only for a brief moment

Before the sun went down each day, I would try to get in a run. The path was very steep in spots, and I noticed that my endurance was flagging as I struggled to reach 3 miles. I chalked it up to needing more hill work, but in the back of my mind, it bothered me. After all, I had finished a half marathon only 4 months before with little trouble. Shouldn’t my endurance be improving?

After 3 wonderful days, I left for home feeling accomplished and rested. I had navigated a huge, unfamiliar medical center and done a really good job teaching. I had enjoyed the city so much that I planned to come back with my family and spend more time, including a visit to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.

As it turned out, that would be my second and last trip. A week later I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and had to give up that job to go through treatment. It’s bittersweet when I look at the pictures now. I remember exactly what I was doing, what I was thinking. I remember how excited I was to embark on a new adventure once I finally made the difficult decision that I needed some time for me and that my kids would live if I left them with their father once per month. It wasn’t to be.

Funny, but situations like this always remind me of a quote from one of my favorite movies of all time, Out of Africa. There is a particularly pulse-pounding scene where Meryl Streep is nearly attacked by a lion while crossing the savannah with wagons and oxen looking for her philandering husband, who has been away for weeks on safari. Her servant Farah turns to her and says, “God is happy m’sabu…he plays with us.”

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition 2

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Behind the morning blush of rose,

I’ll steal a kiss, my dear.

For time stands still and worlds collide

When I feel you near.

But my love is met with icy gaze,

Nightfall finds me alone.

I should have seen the signs, my dear,

Your heart is made of stone.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition 1

 

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While visiting the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, we came upon this unusual sculpture on the grounds of the waterfront mansion, Ca d’Zan. Named “Fat Boy”, it was tucked into a grove of trees along the southern border. It depicts an Italian putto, the chubby and sometimes winged infant boys popular in art from the ancient classical world through the Renaissance era. The mirrored window in the boy’s forehead is said to reflect the sunset touching down on Sarasota Bay. We’ll have to go back and witness this for ourselves one day.

Sun, Sand, and No Squishy Frogs

I haven’t posted for several days, but I have a pretty good excuse. My daughter and I are “wintering in Florida”. Well, not exactly wintering, more like “thawing out” for a week or so. We are on the Gulf coast in Sarasota, 10 minutes from what has been voted most beautiful beach in the United States, Siesta Key.

I am from Miami originally, and when I was growing up I couldn’t wait to leave Florida and see the seasons. The heat was oppressive in the summertime, much like stepping into a giant sauna with B52 bomber-size roaches. And amphibians of every size and shape. I remember sneaking in after curfew one night and tiptoeing ever so stealthily down the hall in stocking feet. I almost made it to my bedroom….when I stepped square on a baby tree frog In the darkness. It took everything I had not to lose it right there. Instead, I made horrible faces and exhaled silent screams as I raced to the bathroom to wash my foot.

Fast forward to today. Oh what a difference 30 years makes. Slap me with a shuffleboard stick and call me granny, but I hate, hate, hate being cold. I get chilled to the bone sometimes, and I actually have to get in a hot shower to warm up. And it has been a nasty winter in Asheville so far. There hasn’t been much snow, but the “polar vortex” has a firm grip. Next week the forecast low is 3 degrees one morning. Really? 3? Can’t wait to get back!

Meanwhile, we have enjoyed beautiful sunshine and average temperatures near 70 for most of our stay In Florida. Yesterday we walked along the beach and collected shells. I could get used to this. Tomorrow, it’s off to the Ringling Museum, which is supposed to be fantastic.

And so far….not a roach or a tree frog in sight. I’m keeping my shoes on, just in case.