Into the Mist to Find My Soul

Sony Alpha 7 II |Sony FE 50 mm | ISO 250 | f/1.8

Sony Alpha 7 II | Sony FE 50 mm | ISO 250 | f/1.8

Sony Alpha 7 II | Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 mm OSS | ISO 250 | 28 mm | f/11

Sony Alpha 7 II | Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 mm OSS | ISO 400 | 53 mm | f/5

Sony Alpha 7 II | Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 mm OSS | ISO 250 | 31 mm | f/11

Sony Alpha 7 II |Sony FE 50 mm| ISO 250 | f/1.8


Let your light shine!



cee’s fun foto challenge: Zen

cee’s which way challenge: photo #2 & #3

WPC: mystical place = my sweet spot



Megan Whitmarsh "Your thoughts are forming the world" installation at Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia

Megan Whitmarsh at Taubman Museum of Art

Roanoke, Virginia.

Most of you know by now that I’ve been living in Roanoke, Virginia for the past 4 1/2 years. While the raising of my teenagers keeps me quite busy (I often wear the hat of chauffeur), I do occasionally get to spend some time discovering the city. Now that two of my three teens drive and the youngest will only travel with soccer in the fall, I hope to do quite a bit more exploring.

However, I did get a chance for a local outing during the first weekend in January.

Taubman Museum of Art.

Most times that I find myself in downtown Roanoke, I will also find myself popping in to the Taubman Museum of Art. Located at 110 Salem Ave SE, the museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. The architecture of the building is stunning both in its interior and its exterior.

Then, of course, it is filled with magnificent pieces of art.

I’ve shared part of my outing to the museum in the post about the art of Paul Villinski. I also gave a sneak peek at the work by another artist in Edition 48 of Friday Faves.

All is Possible necklace from art installation. Megan Whitmarsh.

Megan Whitmarsh.

You might recall my sharing of the above photo in that sneak peek. This is from Your Thoughts Are Forming the World by Megan Whitmarsh.

As I shared in that post, Megan Whitmarsh is an American Contemporary Artist based in Los Angeles. The entire piece creates the “impression” of a 1970′ female artist’s working studio.

I have chosen to photograph pieces of the installation rather than the whole and have also not photographed all of the pieces.

The exhibition was only on view until February 11, 2018, but you can check out her website here.

Avant Garde.

I find art to be a very subjective thing. What one person likes, another may not and also the same in reverse. Perhaps what draws you to a piece of art may not be the same thing that pulls on another. I am not a fan of declaring interpretations of what the artist meant. If the artist did not tell you what they meant, then you speak from no place of authority (I feel the same way about interpretations on works of literature). However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t draw your own conclusions about how the art makes you feel or what it makes you think.

I am a child of the late 70’s (’77 to be exact) so while I was drawn to certain components it was not necessarily because I was familiar with the background. Take for instance the Avant Garde portion of the piece. I’d heard the term, but wasn’t familiar with the fact that  Avant-Garde magazine was published January of 1968 to July of 1971. I liked this piece because it looked like a magazine place haphazardly (although it’s likely it location was specific) on the floor. Plus the red lips made me think about Classic Hollywood. Apparently the magazine is one that broke many taboos.

Stand on Moon.

I liked this portion because it said “Giant Step for Woman”.

During the 60’s and 70’s there was a large push for equal rights for women. While there are still disparities between the equality of the genders (I’m talking….equal pay for the same exact education and job description), I’d like to think that we are moving steadily toward the day when that becomes a reality.

Real Magic.

Who doesn’t love a bulletin board filled with lots of interesting pieces? I was enamored by the thought and effort it must have taken to create each word-filled piece. That was the real magic to me.


I think the thing I most enjoyed about this collection was that it felt like life.

I am not a 70’s female artist with a working studio. However, I do have a little slant-ceilinged room with a desk where I write and edit my photos.

I have once had a banana peel sitting on my desk. It was waiting for me to carry it downstairs when the time came to leave my “office”. I have a Travel + Leisure magazine tossed haphazardly on my office floor, waiting for me to decide if I’ve finished reading it.

Amongst the random bits around the room are a wooden dowel and rope to try my attempt at macramé, a shell and bundle of sage, some lip balm, and essential oil to diffuse during my meditation time (which I do in the other half of the tiny space).

I think besides the fact that many pieces hearken back to my childhood, I appreciated that there was a sense of reality to the installation.

This blog began as my journey of discovery outside of my roles…wife, mother…etc. and I think as well that:

I shall yet see many things.

A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others. -Salvador Dali

Let your light shine!




wpc: tour guide


Photo Diary of My Current City - Roanoke, Virginia

Photo Diary of My Current City – Roanoke, Virginia


Tour Guide.

I have often highlighted the city in which I currently live. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, I live in Roanoke, Virginia. After living for the first 30 years of my life in Naples, Florida, and another 5-ish across the state of Florida, I moved to Roanoke in July of 2013. If you’re ticking off the numbers on your fingers, I turned 40 this past September. But most of you already know that since I’ve been actively doing 30 day challenges for my year of #thisis40. When the weekly photo challenge came up as tour guide, I knew that I would have plenty to share.

Usually, I participate in the photo challenge on Wordless Wednesday, in which (as is indicated in the title) no words are used. I did share some photos of the Hotel Roanoke, but wanted to share some more photos and talk a bit about my current city.

Photo Diary.

Today’s photography series will be a collection of some of the photos that I’ve taken from around Roanoke. A photo diary of sorts. I will also share some links to my past posts about Roanoke, where you will find plenty more information about the area.

Roanoke is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. With easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is the delight of many fans of the outdoors.

If your interested in the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can check out these posts (a few are outside of Roanoke, but not too far away):

Roanoke Star.

One of the things that Roanoke is quite well known for is the Roanoke Star. The Roanoke Star is also known as the Mill Mountain Star. The star is located on Mill Mountain and is the largest, free-standing, man-made, illuminated star in the world.

The star was designed and built by Roy C. Kinsey and his two sons. It was constructed in 1949 and is three stars that contain 2,000 feet of neon tubing. The star is illuminated every night. It is primarily illuminated white, but can include red, white, and blue for various occasions.

I must admit that when we return home from points north, the star upon the mountain is a welcome sight, letting us know that we are close to our final destination.

H & C Coffee Sign.

There are also two other neon signs sitting atop buildings in downtown Roanoke, which are illuminated at night and visible from I-581. One is a Dr Pepper sign. According to this article, Roanoke consumed more Dr Pepper per capita than any other place on earth from 1957-1959, and again in 1961. The other is the H & C Coffee sign. H & C Coffee was established in Roanoke in 1927 and the sign built in 1948. (cee’s which way photo challenge)


This sign was my favorite upon moving here because the coffee appeared to be pouring into the cup. However, I’ve noticed that it just stays fully lit now. According to this article from 2014, the animator mechanism needs repaired. I don’t often drive home in the dark, but I don’t think that its been replaced as of yet.

If you’re wondering about where the photo above was taken…I’ll tell you.

It’s from inside one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in downtown Roanoke:




Another of my favorite things about Roanoke is the amazing architecture. Having grown up in Florida, the architectural styles here are very different. While I have always been cognizant of architectural details, when I began to participate in Norm’s Thursday Doors, a weekly roundup of amazing doors from around the world, I began to see buildings through new eyes.

I’ve shared a close-up of one set of these doors in my post, Keys to the Past


Municipal Building.

The Municipal Building is located at 215 Church Avenue. It is Neoclassical Revival and was erected in 1915.

Big Lick.

Prior to being named Roanoke, the city was known as Big Lick. As shown on the sign at the Municipal Building, the original name was based on a salt outcropping which drew the wildlife to the site near the Roanoke River.

City Market Building.

The City Market Building is located at 32 Market Square SE. It is considered the heart of downtown. The Farmer’s Market is the oldest continuously operating open-air market in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It began in 1882. After the original building (built in 1886) was destroyed in a fire, the current building was built in 1922.

There are wonderful views to be had from the rooftop of the Center in the Square building. In addition to this one, I’ve shared some others in a much older post: Downtown Stroll.


Quite often there is something happening in Roanoke. I haven’t been able to make it to many events since we’ve moved here. Why? Miss Sunshine has been playing travel soccer since we moved here and that ties up most weekends. Occasionally we have some down time in the winter, but most of the events are not winter events.

Last year I did make it to the Local Colors Festival and I attended a Veteran’s Day parade a few years ago, where I gathered these photos.

However, Miss Sunshine will not be traveling for soccer this spring so I plan to take full advantage of the weekends to attend events and do more hiking!


You never know what treasure you might stumble upon when you are wandering around Roanoke. For example, there are beautiful sights to stumble upon in the alleyways found in the heart of downtown. (cee’s fun foto challenge). This is a connection in the alley behind the Center in the Square parking garage.


More Architecture.

Of course, no tour is complete (on my end) without showing you more architecture. The stone at the top of the building says 1926. I know that much of our United States architecture pales in age comparison to those of Europe, but a building that’s 50 years  older than me and looks this good deserves a glamour shot.

709 S. Jefferson Street.

I knew that a building with this much character had to have a history.

And it does.

Gill Memorial Hospital was founded by Dr. Elbyrne Gill in 1926 and is believed to be the Commonwealth’s first specialty hospital. It was an Eye, Ear, and Throat hospital.

It is currently home to RAMP (Regional Acceleration and Mentoring Program).


The Roanoke Valley is a great place to come visit. There is a great mix of urban and wilderness. Many people enjoy a great portion of their time outdoors.

High Adventure.

Many high adventure enthusiasts love it here. There are plenty of trails for mountain biking and cycling. There are places to fish and kayak and rock climb. There’s even a climbing gym for those times when you can’t make it to the trails.

Not so High Adventure.

If you aren’t quite into high adventure (like me…the only one in my family of five), there’s still plenty to do. Roanoke likes its green space and preserves much. I’ve shared before some of our walks along the Greenway. I like to hike the many trails surrounding the area.

There is scientific backing to the benefit of spending time in nature and I can heartily agree with the conclusions.


Even though I take my Pilates and Yoga classes at my local gym, there are plenty of studios around town offering a focused workout. There is Empower Pilates & Yoga and Uttara Yoga Studio. There are also places like Pure Barre and Orange Theory Fitness. These are just a few of the places that I’ve heard of through friends.

Event Locations.

As I mentioned above, there are often events held around Roanoke. There are often a calendar of events at Elmwood Park, Dr Pepper Park, and the Berglund Center (where the hubby and I just watched Riverdance).


There are breweries and vineyards and an array of dining options.

Local Information.

There is so much more that is available to see and do in the area. Here are some great websites to check out for upcoming events and information on the area:

But you don’t just have to take my word for it.

Not only did Forbes put Roanoke on their 2017 list of 25 Great Scenic Places to Retire, but TripAdvisor recently named Roanoke as one of the best small USA cities to visit in 2018.

But you don’t just have to take their word for it.

Come visit and see for yourself.

Hope to see you soon!

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.- John Muir

Let your light shine!




Doors of Stirling Scotland UK United Kingdom

Doors of Stirling

Photography Series.

I’ve been enjoying creating these photography series. They seem the best way to showcase the photos that I’d like to share with all of you. I have shared many doors since discovering Norm’s (host of Thursday Doors) blog.

I shared in last week’s Friday Faves that my mother and I would be traveling back to the United Kingdom in May. The logistics were still being worked out at that time, but have since been booked. I promised to share our plans so I thought that for today’s photography series we’d travel back to my time in Scotland.


Our time in Stirling, Scotland to be exact. I’ve chosen this location because Stirling is considered to be the “Gateway to the Highlands”.

You may recall that we took a day trip from Edinburgh to visit Stirling Castle. I’ve even showcased the King’s Old Building that is located at the castle. But I also admired the doors as I strolled through town.

Hotel Colessio.

The Hotel Colessio is located at 33 Spittal Street. Its architecture was quite magnificent. I’ve captured the end, but the entry has a portico with Doric columns to welcome you. My shot of the entry was through the fence as we were heading toward a lunch destination, so it didn’t do it enough justice to share. I’ve linked the hotel in case you’d like to see the entire building.


The hotel website shares that this building was a landmark in Stirling. I did a little digging because I know you all want the details. According to Canmore, it was designed by James Gillespie Graham and was built 1825-1827 as the Commercial Bank. It was converted to use as the first Stirling Infirmary in 1873-1874, and enlarged in 1878, 1883, and 1913. It was later used as the district library and offices for the Forth Valley Health Board.

The Stirling Highland Hotel.

I didn’t get any photos of the doors of the Stirling Highland Hotel, but the building was just too beautiful not to capture.

The hotel is located on Spittal Street and according to its history section, the property was once a Franciscan (or Greyfriars) Convent, founded by King James IV in 1494. The King who died at the Battle of Flodden often did penance at the Greyfriars. The Convent was demolished in 1559.

In 1852, it was proposed to build a new school house. Stirling’s old Grammar School merged with the English and Mathematical Academy, and in 1856 the new High School of Stirling, moved into this site. The hotel has retained remnants of the old school in its interior design.

Number 4.

Since traveling and photography are still somewhat new to me, I am learning lessons as I go forward. One of those lessons is to take notes on the locations of my photos. Sometimes, I am able to use Google maps, taking into account where the photo falls in my sequence. It’s likely that this door was on St. John Street, but don’t take my word for it.

No. 2 Baker Street.

The doors aren’t really visible on this building, but the building itself looked amazing.

No. 2 Baker Street is a Belhaven Pub. This is where we stopped for lunch before catching the train back to Edinburgh.


While I am no expert on dining in Scotland, there was one thing that I noticed about many of the pubs that we frequented. Unlike at a “restaurant” where the waiter/waitress takes your order and serves your meal, at these pubs, your table has a number on it. You then order your food and drinks at the bar and let them know your table number.

I ate fish and chips at almost every pub we visited. You just can’t go wrong with fish and chips. In case you’re wondering, I did try a bite of my aunt’s haggis. Although this was not the day or restaurant in which she ordered it.


I liked that No. 2 Baker Street offered a flight of beers. I love trying beers that aren’t available (or at least, easily available) in the United States. I tried many different brands while in Scotland. The bartender helped me choose my flight because I prefer darker beers (think Guiness as opposed to a citrusy IPA). Another lesson learned about note-taking… I could barely remember the names of the three I had chosen by the time I sat down. It was hard enough to remember all the parts to correctly order for three people, much less remember beer names. Next time I’ll snap a picture of the taps. I do know that my favorite had “red” in the name and I’m pretty sure it included a man’s name. When asked which was my favorite, she informed me that one had the highest alcohol content. Big surprise that it was my favorite! Just kidding. I really like its flavor best.

39 St John Street.

It’s an interesting thing about 39 St John Street.


I took the photo of this door because it said Bothwell House. Documents vary on the birthplace of my great-great grandfather James Scott (1865-1925), but further research shows that it is Bothwell. He was born in Holytown, which was a village in the parish of Bothwell, explaining why they were used interchangeably. His wife, Agnes McLachlan (1865-1944) narrows it even more on her U.S. Naturalization Records, stating that he was born at Pollocks Hill, Scotland. At one time, I had found information on Pollocks Hill, but it is buried in my paperwork. Given that his father was miner, I suspect it was an area of homes rented by miners.


The interesting thing about this door though is that I looked up its history. The townhouse was originally built in the 16th Century, although it has gone through many alterations.  It is traditionally associated with the family of Bruce of Auchenbowie. Robert Bruce of Auchenbowie was magistrate of Stirling in 1521 and Provost in 1556.


While I could tell you exactly where this is located or you could take a stroll along Google maps and find it, since I can tell that it is somebody’s actual residence, I won’t be publicly disclosing my information. The reason that I stopped to photograph the entry was because I loved that they had horseshoes hung on the entry, along with the hanging planters and window boxes (Cee’s “X” fun foto challenge)

Good Luck.

I’ve always heard about horseshoes being hung for good luck, but had never seen it done in real life. According to this website, horseshoes have always been a traditional symbol associated with good luck. They are often used as a part of a Scottish wedding ceremony. The “U” shape retains the luck.


Pre-Christian traditions hold that its supernatural powers were associated with the crescent moon. Many modern associations are associated with the 10th Century legend of St. Dunstan. St. Duntan trapped the devil and extracted a promise not to enter the home of Christians, evidenced by horseshoes over the doorway.

Number  7.

A horseshoe was commonly held in place by seven iron nails, which has been considered an important number since the ancient times.

Given that this home has four horseshoes, I hope that it finds itself very lucky indeed.

The Turquoise Door.

I saved my favorite door for last. The Turquoise Door. I can’t tell if this was a private residence, but it’s extremely close to Stirling Castle. If you’ve been to Stirling Castle, then there is no way that you’ve missed a door this vibrant!


As to why I’ve decided to take you along a tour of Stirling, it is because this May my mother and I will spend some time visiting the Highlands.


We will be flying in to London and spending a few days seeing some of the local sights (I know this is nowhere near enough time to see all that London has to offer). We have a pretty action-packed trip, mostly because my mom is not sure if she will travel overseas again (She said that the last time. I’m pretty convincing).


From London, we will fly to Inverness.  We will be relying on public transportation, which makes the logistics a little harder, but I’m sure we’ll manage.

Isle of Lewis.

We fly over to Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis because we have a dream of seeing the Standing Stones of Callanish. It is a one day over and back trip. We are also doing a day tour that will take us to see Eileen Donan Castle and the fairy pools on the Isle of Skye, as well as some other sights. While we haven’t booked anything, I don’t think we can go all that way and not do a boat cruise along Loch Ness to search for Nessie and take in Urquhart Castle.

Must See.

I’ve also read about a bookshop (Leakey’s ) and a pub (Hootenanny’s. – this one, for traditional Scottish music, but also because “hootenanny” is an Appalachian colloquialism and I now live in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia) in Inverness that I must visit.

Any other words of wisdom, or must sees, in Inverness?


We will then head to Edinburgh for a few days before traveling back to London to fly home. We plan to see things that we didn’t see before and may take the train over to Glasgow since that area is where our ancestral roots are located and we loved it so much when we visited before.

Those are our big plans.

If you’ve been to any of these places, share your favorite place and thing to see.


Let your light shine!





A Stroll Along the Seine

A Stroll Along The Seine


Isn’t it strange how once you’ve visited a place, there is a different type of familiarity when you hear about the location on the news? That has recently been the case as I hear about the flooding along the Seine in Paris.

There RER C line is temporarily closed. That was the line we took to visit the Palace of Versailles. I have walked inside the Louvre. We have strolled along the banks of the Seine.

A Walk along the seine.png


Along the Seine.

I visited Paris last April.

Springtime in Paris.

I could just swoon saying those words.

It was during my first overseas trip and Paris was more lovely in the spring than anything I had imagined.

No trip to Paris is complete without stroll along the Seine.

Pont de la Concorde.

Our first view of the Seine was from Pont de la Concorde. This is the bridge that connects Quai des Tuileries at the Place de la Concorde (on the Right Bank) and the Quai d’Orsay (on the Left Bank).

I’ll let you in on a little behind the scenes secret. The hubby and I watch Vikings on the History Channel. He had been to Paris many years prior to our trip and here he is  pointing out the background on the attack of Paris. If you don’t watch the show (while it’s not historically accurate), the episode was based on the Siege of Paris in 845.

The historical accounts are that the Danish Viking Reginheri (thought to be the same person as the legend of Ragnar Lothbrok) sailed a fleet of about 120 ships along the Seine, raiding the city of Rouen as he progressed. They went on to pillage Paris, which at the time was an island city, located on Île de la Cité, where you now find Notre Dame.


Right Bank of the Seine.

While we walked along the Seine numerous times during our visit to Paris, my photos are predominately from the Right Bank of the Seine. We walked from the Jardin des Tuileries to Notre Dame.

Looking across the Seine at Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France

Museé d’Orsay.

While I did not have a chance to visit the Museé d’Orsay, I did admire its architecture.

The museum building was originally a railway station, Gare d’Orsay. It was finished in time for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. It was the terminus for the railways of southwestern France until 1939.

After 1939, it was used for suburban services and part of it became a mailing center during World War II.

In the 70’s, the idea came about to turn the building into a museum. The plan was for the museum to bridge the gap between the Louvre and the National Museum of Modern Art.

The museum officially opened in December of 1986.

The museum is open daily (closed on Mondays) from 9:30 am to 6 pm, with extended hours until 9:45 pm on Thursdays.

With works by Renoir, Degas, Manet, and Van Gogh (just to name a few), it will definitely be on my “must see” list when I return to Paris.

Have you visited the Museé d’Orsay?

If so, what your favorite piece of art?


All along the Seine, the views are breathtaking. Miss Sunshine was ill for most of our time in Paris. However, she was a trooper and soldiered on during our walk to Notre Dame. This was the view from a water break we took before perusing the stalls of the bouquinistes.

Love Locks.

There are numerous love locks along the Seine. While one of the most famous locations for their placements is along the Ponts de Arts bridge, we found them while walking along the Quai des Tuileries.

While I admire a good love story, I did not leave a lock.

The weight of so many locks can eventually create damage. I have my memories and I’ve snapped some photos of the locks both here and in Amsterdam.



I feel very lucky to be able to travel. To have visited Paris and to have walked along the banks of the Seine.


Have you ever been to Paris?

Which area was your favorite in which to spend your time?

We had a very short visit there and I hope to return again someday.

I hope to return again to Shakespeare and Company, to look amongst its book-filled shelves. To admire the doors of Paris as I stroll along the rues and boulevards.  There are daydreams of sitting upon my current favorite Corner of Paris and watching the vibrancy of Paris.

And, of course, to see all that I missed.


Let your light shine!