Time Travel Tuesday – Over the Rainbow

 

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Last week we had a spectacular double rainbow.  It was so spectacular that my husband called me from his commute to tell me to grab my camera and shortly after that a friend texted me to grab my camera because the rainbow was just that awesome!

Unfortunately, my first sighting of it came before these calls and texts and it was as I was walking to the jeep to take my daughter to school. Because that’s how mornings roll, it was already the last possible moment to leave. Normally she takes the bus, but her bus pulls into her school 3 minutes before the bell. With soccer training she has extra bags and those bags must find a home before the bell…and that’s where I enter. Usually looking unkempt, but not in my pajamas in case the need ever arises for me to have to exit my car, I drive her to school earlier. I took two quick snapshots with my phone from the driveway and the rest of the views I just admired on the drive. Before we even finished the 10 minute drive to school, it was gone.

A fleeting memory.

And I am taken back to some childhood memories involving rainbows. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that I did not have the conventional “child of the 80’s” childhood. For a while we lived in a converted school bus (yes, a tiny house) on our property in rural South Florida. Our power source was a battery and later a generator.  In fact, we would live on that land for 5 or 6 years without traditional power. This meant that things like the TV needed to run on 12 volt.

We had a 12″ black and white TV. I can remember there was a knob on the bottom that you turned to turn it on and control the volume. There was an upper and lower knob that  would click as you turned through the stations. We had four channels. ABC & NBC (channels 20 & 26 on the upper knob) PBS (channel 30 on the upper knob) and CBS (channel 11 on the lower knob). Sometimes the stations required a very precise lining up of the rabbit ears to get the station to stay tuned.

Every year, one of the stations played The Wizard of Oz.  I loved that movie! When traditional power came along in the mid-to-late 80’s, my uncle bought my parents a color TV for Christmas.  I had only watched The Wizard of Oz at home. That year, as we sat and watched it, my eyes were just as enraptured as Dorothy’s as she walked out of her home into Oz. I had no idea all those years that when Dorothy crossed over the rainbow, her world became a technicolor dream.

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Going “over the rainbow” was also one of my favorite childhood imaginary feats. Our driveway had a dip where it crossed a ditch.  If I closed my eyes while I walked down the driveway, it felt as though I were going uphill and then back down. In my mind’s eye this became a rainbow.  My heart would beat a little faster as I climbed that rainbow, towering above the clouds, and then I would slowly come down the other side. Sometimes my brother, or my dad’s sister would join me. When my cousins came to visit they would travel over the rainbow as well.

The question became “What was on the other side of the rainbow?”  The answer: different lands.  Whatever you could think of, we could visit there. Time has faded most of the memories of where we traveled, but sometimes a pegasus would save our weary bones from traveling down the rainbow.  He would meet us at the top and carry us off to the land that we had requested. The wind blowing in our faces as his wings flapped up and down and propelled us forward. When we traveled across the rainbow, it was imperative that we all hold hands, that way we could make sure that everyone made it back safely.  Eyes had to remain closed on this journey or the vision might be lost and there was the possibility you would be trapped.

I knew this land we ran across.  My feet had covered most of its surface for almost a decade. I have distinct memories of two lands we visited. Dinosaur land and Candy land. We wandered around the front fields of calf-high, dry summer grass, walking amongst the legs of giant dinosaurs. We dashed and darted behind bushes planted in a row along my uncle’s property, hiding from the guards in Candy land, who most definitely did not like humans and did not want us there. Our feet would always find their way back to the gravel on the driveway to begin the journey back to the rainbow. Sometimes we would saunter back to the rainbow. Other times we were on a mad dash for escape.

The air would change at that rainbow. It was lighter and full of magic. I remember the day when it became harder to see the rainbow. How I was disappointed that my mind couldn’t see beyond the dip in the driveway. And one day the rainbow was gone.

A fleeting memory.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Graceful Roanoke, Virginia

 

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I have to admit when I saw “Graceful” as the photo challenge of the week, I was a bit stumped.  There are no photos of swans, ballerinas, or princesses in my archives.  And, alas, I was not going to be able to find any to go out and photograph.

Those are the things I think about when I hear the word graceful. As I pondered it more and thought through the description used in the photo challenge: “something that exists harmoniously with its surroundings,” I decided on a direction.

I think the city and surrounding area of Roanoke, Virginia does just that.

Downtown- facing the city market building (shorter brick building in center), the Norfolk Southern building (Hi-rise in center.  I assume it will get a new name since it was sold when Norfolk Southern relocated most of their people to Norfolk and Atlanta), and Mill Mountain (If you look closely, you can see the famous Roanoke Star atop it.)

If you aren’t familiar with Roanoke, it is located in the Southwestern portion of Virginia. It also happens to have become my adopted home for the past 3 1/2 years.

According to the City’s government website, the first pioneers explored the Roanoke Valley region as early as the 17th century. As a side note, my genealogical  search has turned up with family lines in the surrounding counties as far back as the late 1700’s.

The city of Roanoke was originally called Big Lick, named after the salt that fed the wildlife along the Roanoke River.  The town was established in 1852 and became the town of Roanoke in 1882 and a city in 1884.

Its location helped it flourish.  To me, the downtown area has a industrial/urban feel.  This may be biased as I come from an area of South Florida, where there are no railroads and little to no manufacturing since the establishment of the area was at a much later time.

I like this urban feel to the downtown area.  The area has been undergoing a revitalization for some time.  I did not move to the area until the summer of 2013 and quite a bit had already taken place in the pedestrian friendly downtown.  Since then, more shops and restaurants have spread beyond the initial square to create even more space to wander downtown.  Condos have have been built in the upper floors of the historic buildings.

There is almost always something going on. There are festivals, 5k’s and for any of you that are hard core runners (this is not me…my zen is yoga, but one of my 40 before 40 goals is to run a 5k!) the Blue Ridge Marathon will begin and finish downtown in April.  Elmwood Park’s amphitheater and The Berglund Center have both been venues for some amazing concerts.  There is a Greenway that runs along the Roanoke River, filled with runners, walkers, and bicyclists.

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Taken from the Roanoke Valley Greenway

Given the history of having a child involved in a accident and being medflighted to a Level 1 Trauma Center with a brain injury when we lived in Florida, I was relieved to find out the city I was moving to had a Level 1 Trauma Center located in it.  It’s not something that I would have ever thought about before living through it.  Minutes are critical when there are life-threatening emergencies involved.

Located near the hospital is the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. I find it absolutely fascinating that this is happening where I live. Before I moved, I had gone back to school to work on a degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. The area I was living in Florida had a strong biomedical community and the Bachelor degree was being offered at the local State College. It had great potential because I was busily raising kids, so going off to a University was not an option. I didn’t get too far along before we moved (but I aced Chemistry, Statistics, and A&P after being out of college for 18 years!).  My focus changed when I moved here, but I still hold a special place inside for medicine and how the human body functions.

The Roanoke Valley (which encompasses the city and county of Roanoke and the city of Salem) exists harmoniously within its environment.  There is a love for the outdoors.  A love for green space.  It’s nestled between the mountains.  Everywhere that I drive, I am facing a mountain range.

And the Blue Ridge Mountains are a sight to behold.  My photos only offer a glimpse of the spectacular scenery.  A great website to check out about the area is Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.  They have great things on their blog about things to do and see in the region.  They also share some amazing Instagram photos (one of mine is in the first snow of 2017 photo album).

Quite a few people travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway every year. Excepting the photos in the city, all of these photos are taken on the Parkway from either Mill Mountain or Roanoke Mountain.  The loop road on Roanoke Mountain is now closed for the season.  If you plan to travel the Parkway in the winter, always be sure to check with the National Park Service for road closures.

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City view from Mill Mountain.

If you should find yourself this way, I think you’ll agree that the cityscape and the surrounding natural landscape exist in a symbiotic relationship.  That there is grace and harmony in their coexistence.

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Sunset view from Roanoke Mountain

Let your light shine!

Amy

Ambience & Hygge

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Hygge.

What does that word even mean?!

Ok.  Most of you probably already know since it was shortlisted by Oxford Dictionary to be a Word of the Year for 2016.

I, however, live in the dark ages and stumbled across this word last Sunday. We were driving to my mother-in-law’s and I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw this word used as a hashtag on a photo that I liked.  They also had a photo of a book written called The Year of Living Danishly.

I was immediately intrigued.  For the past year, I have stumbled across stuff about Copenhagen (a city I knew nothing about, other than its name) on such a frequent basis that I was convinced that I am supposed to visit there.  I’m a big believer in paying attention to signposts and it was happening so frequently that even my skeptical husband was beginning to wonder if I should just hop on a plane and go.  We considered it for our first overseas trip this spring break, but I was worried about it being cold.

Yes, I know there is old Scandinavian saying “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing” – and I don’t have good clothing!

So in my intrigue, I googled “what is hygge” (pronounced hoo-guh) and while there isn’t an actual English translation, it can be compared to coziness. The website I came across- Hygge House described hygge as a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes by taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special.

And I was struck! This is the word that I have been looking for over the past year. I made it through last winter by looking for beauty everywhere. Mostly, I looked to nature. So when the photo challenge this week was ambience, I thought of my top photo, of how a place or moment in nature makes me feel. But I also thought about hygge.

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The warm light of candles and fireplaces are one of the first things that come to mind when I think about both of those words and creating a warm atmosphere.  But it goes beyond that.

It is the feeling that I have been trying to create in my home since I moved from Florida to Virginia. A feeling of warmth and joy. Surrounded by things that uplift my spirit when the days are a cold gray that seem to never end.

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It’s about creating a place of relaxation.  Taking time to savor a cup of warm tea in the afternoon (because, let’s be honest, that coffee in the morning… that’s so I can smile and say “Have a good day” as everyone walks out the door after a morning of chaos).

Enjoying the rituals around the holidays of making cookies and candies with my daughter. And then spending time savoring the richness of our hard work.

It’s about deciding that every day is special enough to pull out the sprinkles and real silver.

It’s about simplicity and slowing down the pace of life.

Something I’ve been seeking and journeying toward for the past year.

One way that I try to incorporate this concept of slowing down, of a  warm atmosphere where you enjoy the good things in life with good people, is by pouring a glass of wine, putting on my warm slippers, turning on the fireplace, wrapping up in a cozy blanket, and spending time with my husband.

Another way is by having a snack for my teens after school. Sometimes it’s fancy, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s from scratch,  quite often it’s not. But it’s in these few precious moments that my kids tell me about their day.  The good, the bad, things coming up, things that have passed.  These teenagers let me have a little peek into their world.  They eat, they laugh, they play their music for me…and then they head off in different directions.

It’s in these little every day moments that we find hygge.

I hope that you all find some hygge in your life this week.

Let your light shine!

Amy