Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. Also welcome to APRIL!!!! Spring is AWESOME. Enjoy some beautiful TULIPS from Biltmore!!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Some Little Monkey Turns 75 this week!!!!!

She doesn't ACT 75!!!!!! 
Well my Friends,  AUGUST is almost here ---and guess what?????   Betsy has a BIG birthday this year....  YIPES.... On this day (August 5, 1942)  a bouncing baby girl was born in a small hospital in Pennington Gap,  Virginia... (My hometown, Big Stone Gap,  did not have a hospital at that time)...   It was 'war time' --so things weren't easy for anyone...  The hospital didn't have enough beds ---so my first bed was a dresser drawer...  I cannot believe that I was EVER tiny enough to fit in a dresser drawer...  ha ha .... (My friend, Neal,  would say that this is the reason I'm a little nutty even to this day!!!!! Tee Hee)...

My Dad (who was 53 years old when I was born) was even more excited than Mom (who was 42) was when they had a GIRL.....  They had two sons before I was born.  Raymond was 20 years older than I was and Jimmy was 12 years older than I was... To say I was a SURPRISE is an understatement....

But I was the "apple of my Daddy's eyes" ---and was truly spoiled rotten by him...   Mama just shook her head when she would say NO and Daddy said YES.....    For me,   I can honestly say that I had a great childhood.  Daddy worked until he was 75 to support us,  and even though they didn't have a lot of money,  they made sure that I was their priority in every respect....  I miss them both so much --along with both of my brothers...  All four of them are with God now--and here I am,  still hobbling along!!!!!

Today I'll share some pictures with you through the years of this crazy monkey!!!!!  Hope you enjoy them....

Who is this TUBBY little girl????  Still tubby at 75!!!!

Daddy and Me!!!!   Look at that smile on Daddy's face  (at least until I became a teenager).... ha

She's 'trying' to smile ---while saying,  "this is enough"...

My hair was ALWAYS STRAIGHT....   I remember getting perms for many years.... That was back in the day when the rollers/curlers came down from the ceiling.   Bet some of you have never heard of that!!!!!  GADS.

About age 4 ---I was standing in our front yard.

Then she grew up....   This was my Senior Year in  high school, all dressed up--trying to impress the boys I'll bet!!!

At age 59,   she met this Cutie Pie ---and he truly swept me off of my feet  (after about 20 years of being a single, independent woman)....

Here's a very happy lady --who has had an amazing life.

Sending Smoochies to YOU today  and saying  "thanks for blogging with this crazy monkey since 2006".....
I could go on and on about my life for these 75 years..... I have 3 wonderful sons whom I adore more than life itself.  AND---then there are my fantastic daughters-in-law  AND  the wonderful grandchildren...  And --I'm gonna be a GREAT Grammy in January.... Yeah!!!!!  I am truly a blessed woman...

George has some wonderful surprises planned for me this week --so if I'm not around,  just know that I am out somewhere having fun....


Monday, July 24, 2017

Wildflowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway --June, 2017

Catawba  Rhododendron Bloom,   Craggy Gardens 
On our Anniversary Trip to Switzerland Inn along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina  (June 21-23, 2017),   we encountered some gorgeous blooms which I want to share with you today... Hope you enjoy seeing some of these beautiful wildflowers/shrubs.

We were a week or two late to see the Catawba Rhododendrons in full bloom in Craggy Meadows --but luckily we did see a few still blooming... 

Another picture taken while we were in Craggy Meadows showing the Catawba Rhododendron blooms AND some Wild Hydrangea blooms

Wild Hydrangea Bush 

Wild Hydrangea Bloom (close-up)

Another bush showing the Wild Hydrangeas in bloom along the Blue Ridge Parkway

One of my favorite blooms,  the Flame (or Flaming) Azaleas (I love this color.)   

A close-up picture of the Flame Azaleas  

One more picture of the Flame Azaleas --found along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina 

The Mountain Laurel was really showing off!

I took a gazillion pictures of the Mountain Laurel in bloom all around us!

More Mountain Laurel... WOW!

A close-up of the Mountain Laurel  taken in a different elevation along the parkway from the 3 pictures above;    As you can tell,  this Laurel was just beginning to bloom..  The ones above were at the end stages of their blooms.  Mountain Laurel starts pink and gradually turns white.

 And another favorite was seeing lots and lots of  Rosebay Rhododendrons (also called White Rhododendrons);   They are at lower elevations than the Catawba Rhododendrons.   These start pink and turn white (similar to the Mountain Laurel).

Seeing these Rosebay Rhododendrons was such a joy for me...  We don't see the white ones very often.   They are so gorgeous...

Here's a close-up of one of the Rosebay Rhododendron blooms...    Some people ask what the difference is between Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurel.  I always look at the leaves since Rhododendron leaves are much larger than the Mountain Laurel.  But their blooms are similar even though the Laurel is smaller.
Hope you enjoyed seeing some of the pretty blooms along the Blue Ridge Parkway in late June...  I had to do a little research myself to make sure I got the names correct....  You can click on this link  (click HERE) to see a great listing of wildflowers along the parkway during all seasons.

I had seen the Catawba Rhododendrons at Craggy before --but not sure if I have ever seen so many Rosebay Rhododendrons in bloom before.     AND--I never knew the name of the  Wild Hydrangeas until now.... See what I learn when taking pictures, then doing research, and then blogging????  Amazing....

Have a great week.


Monday, July 17, 2017

MC CLOUD MOUNTAIN VISIT with Friends 7/5/17

George, Neal and Patti at  McCloud Mountain, July 5, 2017
Our good friends,  Neal and Patti,  were visiting family in north Tennessee recently ---so we drove up toward that area on July 5 to see them and have lunch with them at a new restaurant on top of the mountain near Duff,  Tennessee (which Neal had read about and wanted to try).   Even though this area is only about two hours from our home,  George and I had never been there...  WOW--what a neat place!!!!

We drove UP UP UP the mountain to a small private resort on top of McCloud Mountain... It is conveniently called the McCloud Mountain Restaurant and Lodge  (since there are rooms available for lodging)....  For more information about this little resort,  click HERE.

When we left home,  it was a very drizzly and foggy morning...  AND--the fog got worse as we drove up that mountain...   BUT--we were so happy to see our Indiana friends  for a few hours...  We all decided to eat lunch first and then hope that the fog would lift (which it DID)....

The restaurant was nice and we all had Bison Burgers for lunch (delicious)...  As we always do when together,  we talked and talked --all the time watching that fog gradually disappear...  After lunch, we went outside and took pictures around the facility.

Then we drove to check out the Chimney Skywalk....  Nature provided a chain of 32 'chimneys' forming a chain --and then they built a walkway over them...  Nature is SO amazing!!!!!

Today I'll share pictures from that day with friends... Hope you enjoy them... There's nothing better than being with good friends at a beautiful setting....

The Restaurant with a VIEW (when it's not foggy) on McCloud Mountain;  I loved seeing the big Cross which is lit at nights --and can be enjoyed by folks in the valley below.

Neal and George --both with cameras in hand (of course)!!!! ha

More of the facilities on McCloud Mountain;  The views from these lodge rooms would be marvelous!

Some of the viewing areas near the restaurant and lodge

A view of the valley below (once the fog lifted);  Taken from the area pictured above --near the restaurant;

I told George that I wanted that house built on stilts hanging out over the edge of the cliff!!!!   (NOT REALLY!!! Ha)

A view from inside the restaurant (all decorated for the 4th of July--even though it was the 5th when we were there)

I loved this "Patriotic Tree" in the restaurant  --all decorated in colors of red/white/blue.

As the skies continued to clear,  we drove to see the Chimney Skyway.   By now the views were becoming better and better... 

This happy lady was thrilled to be here!

I was amazed seeing all of these natural  'chimneys'---32 of them altogether!  Some of these formations were between 100 and 250 feet high....  Isn't Nature just amazing?  

Oh--- those gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains!!!   AND--that handsome man enhances the views,  don't you think?

How creative is this deck rail????   Both Patti and I noticed this and were pleased to see them build it this way... Have you ever seen this done like this before?   I loved it.

We heard a train whistle in the distance from the Skywalk Overlook..   Once I spotted the train,  I pulled out my LONG lens and got a fairly good picture from WAY down in that gorge...

One more picture of our fantastic friends on a great day in Tennessee
Hope you enjoyed our pictures for this wonderful little Day Trip...  This would be an awesome place to visit ANYTIME of year --but especially in Autumn.... Hmmmm--maybe a trip back up there!!!!

Have an awesome week,  my Friends.