Viewing the Eclipse by Looking Down!

While everyone else looked up in the sky, I looked down and made an amazing discovery.

When I learned the total eclipse could be experienced by traveling for under three hours to Wyoming, I mapped it out. Predicted traffic woes changed my view. I decided to stay in my own backyard. Experts explained that even with 94% of the sun blocked out, 6% would be enough to ruin the blackout effect. They were right and yet I discovered something else by looking down.

First I setup my camera since I wanted to record anything weird that happened, like a freak migration of owls or a coyote stampede. When that didn’t happen, I slacklined during the beginning of the eclipse.

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I couldn’t view anything in those black lenses, so I kept my head up for once.

Note to Self: Wear blackout shades when slacklining from now on.

The scientists were right and the eclipse dimmed the light and cooled the temperature, but it wasn’t super dark.

But this discovery really excited me. I looked down and viewed thousands of eclipses. They danced upon my patio!

eclipse leaf patterns from tree

Click below to watch them dance: Continue reading

Fate Meets London’s Bloggers Bash

Boxes packed and ready to goSometimes fate is created with a hint of timing, a splash of coincidence, and a whole gallon of serendipity.

When our ceiling caved in from our demon washing machine, contractors and workers descended on our home. At first, I thought water damaged three rooms. Then we discovered ALL of the wood floors would have to be refinished. We would have to move out. Danny mentioned going on a vacation, but I couldn’t imagine where. East coast? West coast? The south somewhere?

“Lets go to Europe,” he said.

How could we throw a European vacation together that fast. I was still reeling from my brother’s death.

One week out of the house became two. When we learned we would have to move out for three and a half weeks, starting June 2nd, I had to sit down. That’s a humongous trip to plan and we didn’t have a lot of time.

A hint of timing walked into the room.

While sitting down, I calmed myself by reading a few blogs. I found Sacha Blacks’ post about the Bloggers Bash being held in London. It would be held on June 10th. Whoa!

Danny read the paper next to me.

“There’s a bloggers bash in London on the 10th. Maybe we could start in Scotland and then hit the Bash.”

Danny was all in.

London became our first pin on the map. The plan to travel Europe was born. I paid the $20 for the two of us online and we grew our trip from there, forward and backward. We traveled all around Scotland, stayed for a long weekend in London, hung out in Paris for eight days, then drove to Antwerp, Amsterdam and Bruges.

Then coincidence arrived:

After an adventurous week in Scotland including living in a castle and touring several others, we met a blogger on an island who showed us standing rocks. Then I was contacted by another blogger.

To say I was excited to meet Vanessa-Jane Chapman would be an understatement. Vanessa read my blog post about preparing for the UK, so she contacted me through Facebook. After giving her the deets, we couldn’t believe our good luck! She only makes an appearance once a month in London blocks away from our hotel. We could meet for dinner!

Hanging out with Vanessa-Jane in London

Just like so many other blogger meetups, Vanessa-Jane was just as lovely in person. Bubbly and full of energy, especially for someone who had worked all day and then taken the train into London, we recognized each other immediately!

We shared writing stories while Danny patiently nursed a beer happy to relax after a hectic day of travel. We discovered we knew each other through bloggers like Darla of She’s a Maineiac, Peg from Pegoleg’s Ramblings, Jules from Go Jules Go, and Paul from The Good Greatsby. We recalled the good old days when our first circle of friends posted a few times a week.

We caught up over happy hour and nibbles at one noisy bar then found a quieter spot across the way.

Vanessa is multi-talented, wild riders. She not only writes cookbooks and is working on her memoir, she has performed standup, is a mum to two fine children, and also sings with a band! Unfortunately, she didn’t have a gig that weekend. Dang! Danny and I would have been in the front row as super fans.

Like I say to all of my blogging friends, “Look us up if you ever come to Colorado!”

Saturated by Serendipity at the Bloggers Bash:

The next morning my heart beat wildly in my chest. Nope, it wasn’t a heart attack. It was excitement and maybe just a wee bit of anxiety over the original reason why we came to Europe. The London Bloggers Bash! Continue reading

Scotland’s Culloden House, Loch Ness and Barb Taub’s Arran Island: Photo Essay

We drove from Perth, Scotland to the Culloden House right outside Inverness.

This is where Bonnie Prince Charlie Edward Stuart hatched his plans for the last Jacobite battle against the English. Inside the stately manor, filled with antiques, I could imagine heads of state colluding over tea in the day room while others took their Scottish breakfast across the way.

Culloden House Entrance

The Outlander Connection:

My husband, Danny, brought Outlander to read during our monthlong vacation. We watched two seasons of the show on Starz and can’t wait for the third this fall. The castles, lush and verdant landscapes, and history presented in the show were a big part of why we traveled to Scotland. We learned through meeting Fergus and Sarah Jane, Diana Gabaldon, writer of the popular series, had stayed at Cullodun House two weeks earlier. Dang! Just missed her. I plan to meet her at a writers conference in the fall.Fergus from Culloden House and the LindausIf you ever get a chance to visit, make sure to stroll through Culloden’s walled gardens. Simply breathtaking.

Culloden Gardens

Loch Ness was only minutes away from Inverness by car.

A long finger of a waterway, the waves rippled in greeting. I half expected a dragon-like head to appear on its choppy surface. Continue reading

Crossing Paths with Mary, Queen of Scots in Scotland – Photo Essay

A view from the top of Linlithgow Palace

We left Dalhousie in the rain and drove to Melville Castle. Finished in 1791, it’s one of the “newer” castles in the area. We inquired in hopes of finding some bit of history about my relative, Mary Melville, but discovered some about another Mary, Queen of Scotts, and her lover, Rizzio. Continue reading

Scotland – So far, So Very Good – Photo Essay

So far, our vacation has been spectacular. We started in Glasgow and drove to Edinburgh. I only drove the wrong way once, but immediately rode over the median, much to the amusement of Scottish onlookers. Oopsy!

Since we are already up in Inverness and Nessie is waiting for us to take a peek, I will take you on a photo journey of only a few of the places we have visited in the last few days.

Dalhousie Castle

We stayed in Dalhousie Castle for two nights.  With spectacular history and equally fine appointments, I was ready to move in.

Ready to move into Dalhousie Castle

We took a tour of the Rosslyn Church of Da Vinci Code fame. Legend has it, when the Roman Catholic Church tried to disband the Knights Templar, they hid their treasure somewhere in the church. The tour guide told us of a paver which holds much of the building’s energy. The man is stepping on it in the photo. Not expecting much, I stepped on the stone. A chill traveled up my legs as I broke out in a sweat much to the excitement of the elderly docent. Continue reading

One Way to Prepare for the UK

Prepare to drive on the wrong side of the road in the UK
I will travel far and wide in Europe this summer and will drive during part of the trip.

No big deal, right? I drive all the time. But I’ve never driven in the UK where they drive on the wrong side of the road. Whoa.

Why am I freaking out?

It always takes me a while to get used to doing something new. Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a spazz. My tennis coach used to take my arm and move it through the motion of every new stroke. When I tried Zumba, I was shamed by the elderly ladies dancing the Samba for the first time.

Don’t get me started about my left hand. I never know what it’s doing. Just last night, I held a key in my hot little left hand and forgot about it.

“Where’s the key?” asked my husband, Danny.

“I don’t know, ” I said. Then I looked at my totally lame left hand. “Ha! Here it is!”

The first time I ever drove, my dad sat in the passenger seat while we crossed the street to the humongous school parking lot. Only one car parked in the lot that Saturday afternoon. I had tons of room in which to take my maiden voyage in our Buick. I took long, slow practice turns around the lot. That one car frightened me. I closed my eyes to mere slits and cringed every time I drove past. At one point, I pointed our station wagon in its direction and drove at ramming speed. Continue reading

Notorious Colorado Weather – A Photo Essay

Colorado weather is notorious for its unpredictability, but I’ve never seen anything like the superstorm that arrived this week. 2017 has been a year of the unpredictable, with the death of my brother and ceiling cave-in. I keep looking for that silver lining. It’s in my nature.

A week ago, I worried about how I would get “everything” done before floor refinishers and painters take over the house for the month of June. Part of my long list included planting annuals. Not only a couple of pots placed on tables, but at least eleven urns and four window boxes. That’s a lot of plant material.

radient flower box

Usually, I check out all of the garden centers before buying in order to save money. This year, I’m under a time crunch, so I was tempted to buy everything at one place. I vibed out and couldn’t motivate. After fighting the crowds over the warm Mother’s Day weekend, I only bought geraniums on Monday. Then I looked at the five day forecast and couldn’t believe my eyes. Tiny flakes of snow were predicted to arrive on Thursday night. I figured the snow would melt before waking.

The beginning of the storm rolled in several days early with huge hail in the form of golf ball-sized snowballs on Monday. It reminded me of a scene from The Day After Tomorrow. I’d never seen anything like it. You’ll have to trust me since they melted before I could take a picture. Thunderstorms rolled through the next two days.

Thursday, 8:30 AM:

After I blogged my Twin Peaks post, I looked up from my computer to the kitchen window. “It’s snowing!” I sprang from my chair and stared at the giant quarter-sized flakes. I figured it was a fluke and it would soon turn to rain.

9:00 AM:

It’s still snowing. Large puddles are forming on my lawn. A great day for ducks. Maybe you can see the duck in this video. Continue reading