Monday, January 9, 2017

Historic Tour of NC State Capitol

 

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Stepping foot in the North Carolina State Capitol is like entering a whole other era as it is so well preserved with the originality firmly entact. It was completed in the year 1840 with a Greek Revival style of architecture. The Capitol housed the General Assembly until 1963 which they moved into the Legislative Building, but the office of the Governor and Secretary of State have remained. The Capitol proudly holds the title of Raleigh Historic Landmark and sits in the center of Capitol Square. If you desire to visit you can join the 100,000 visitors that come each year. You can be part of public tours at designated times or take a self-guided tour which is especially nice if you like to take your time with photographs and observing.

Capitol tour: http://nchistoricsites.org/capitol/STAT_CAP/Tour.htm 

entrance

The Rotunda is a key focal point of the Capitol. Upon entering, you will see the 1970 copy of the George Washington statue by Antonio Canova. As you can see, my visit took place during Christmas which is one of the prettiest times to visit in my opinion. There are several plaques around the Rotunda giving tribute to several important people and events from North Carolina’s history.

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The Rotunda has a beautiful ceiling at the top of this three story building.

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The second floor contains the House of Representatives Chamber and Senate Chamber which comerced there until 1961 when it then moved to the North Carolina State Legislative Building. Both are a tribute to the important decisions made for North Carolina state.

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The third floor was my favorite. This is where the State Library Room was located from 1840 until 1888. It has a staircase that leads to an upper level lined with shelves after shelves of books. The collection grew from 2,000 volumes to almost 40,000! It was in 1888 that the overflowing library had to be moved to a larger building that could contain it. Now what remains is a showcase of what it looked like back in the day. The main collection is now located in the Archives and History/State Library building on Jones Street. History comes alive when you get to visit destinations that are preserved in a way that is memorable for all.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Overlook at Pilot Mountain

 

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In late afternoon, I began a road trip with a group of friends with our destination being none other than Pilot Mountain. The sun was beginning to set as the Hybrid we drove struggled to reach the top. We followed the road as it took us on curves and closer to our goal. The air grew thinner, but the excitement thickened.

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When we arrived, there was a slight coolness in the air. Though we didn’t get a clear view of the sun set, you can see some pink on the horizon in this picture. This is a view of Big Pinnacle Overlook from Little Pinnacle Overlook. The mountain befoe us was a white quartzite monadnock. Pilot Mountain is part of the A.V.A Yadkin mountain. It rises up to 2,421 feet above sea level and expands across 3,703 acres! A combination of hours in the car, tiredness, but a feeling of amazment washed over me as I gazed at the valley directly below us. 

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If you look out and beyond, you can see some pristine, untouched forest along with homes resting in the valley. It looks so peaceful and almost undisturbed. Further out you might even catch a glimpse of Hanging Rocks State Park which we conquered the following day.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summer Awakens Garden Life

 

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It is that time of year when the heat of the summer is upon us, but it is also the time when flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and butterflies are beginning to emerge. This year, I’ve got squash, large tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, and butterfly plants in my garden. The chocolate mint has really been a sensation this year. News of it has been spreading around the preschool that I work at and my dad has been drying it to distill. Other exciting happenings, are that my hollyhocks (picture below) are blooming with it being their second year and my native Common Milkweed is getting flowers. I’ve been waiting two years to see them bloom.

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Hollyhocks getting ready to open.

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A bumble bee enjoying lavender.

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Yarrow which is a herb used for fevers.

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Penta

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The squash and zucchini have started producing. I’ve got an entire row for them, though it looks like the squash borers might soon steal my family’s feast. With gardening, you’ve got to get used to the fact that you will have to compete with insects and animals in the battle for food. It is all part of the journey. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing pictures from my garden.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Our Gentle Giant Blizzard

 

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I guess you could say it was love at first sight. A bond between our sheep and a young puppy. Blizzard isn’t just any dog. He is a Great Pyrenees, a giant of the dog world. The breed has been used for hundreds of years as a guard dog. They can be gentle and affectionate, yet highly protective against strangers or animals that would harm the animals they are protecting.

Blizzard is part of our family. He can be stubborn though. Mom used to take him up our stairs to say hello, but one day he decided that it was not time to return to his domain. I had an idea. What if I could lure him back into the fence? I grabbed a spring of parsley, doubting it would be found appetizing, but boy was I wrong. Blizzard took after me. Our neighbor starred as this large dog chased after me with my mom close behind. It did the trick. He ate the parsley and then went for my pocket knowing that another parsley leave was inside.

 

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Blizzard is now 7 months old and still growing! He will continuing getting bigger until 2 years of age. We are teaching him not to jump on us and have manners. I was sitting on the bench one day and then all of a sudden Blizzard was licking all over the back of my hair. He is quite the licker.

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Blizzard spending time with Cody. Blizzard came home July, 2015.

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He will always be our puppy. You can see the video of him coming home here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzKhjyKEpnE

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Ray of Hope for Pollinators

 

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We hear a lot about the decline of pollinators, but how often do we hear people speak of the ray of hope that remains amidst the negative news? There is much to be concerned about and it may at times feel like we are swimming against a raging current, but saving our pollinators is worth the struggle when you consider that 75% of our crops rely on them. They fly from flower to flower carrying the pollen that will develop into fruit, vegetables, nuts, and more. Surprisingly, there are 20,000 bee species with only a few that our in charge of pollinating our crops and so it is important to save them.

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First, let’s consider the greatest threats to pollinators and then optimistic side. Habitat destruction is among the leading causes for population declines, but an even greater enemy threatens their health and even ours. What I’m referring to is pesticides. Our crops are laden with cancer causing pesticides. If workers have to wear masks when they spray these lethal chemicals can you imagine how they effect bees, butterflies, and other wildlife? Our mentality needs to change. We need to step back to get new perspectives.

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Now that you’ve heard the bad news, what is the good news? The good news is that even if you aren’t a gardener you can do great things to help. You can slowly or quickly incorporate organic/local produce into your menu. You can support organizations that are working towards saving pollinators. The greatest thing though is starting a butterfly garden. Planting a garden of native wild flowers is ideal. Include a variety of annuals and perennials. Try looking at their different bloom times so that you have flowers from spring to fall.

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Cosmos flowers are just one example of many that you can plant for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.

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Sunflowers are very popular among bees. I get a lot of small native bees and bumble bees that come for a visit.

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I was surprised that flies like to visit flowers. This is a flower on the herb Yarrow.

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This Gray Hairstreak butterfly is also enjoying Yarrow flowers. You are sure to make great discoveries when you start a garden. No matter what, never lose hope.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A World Without Butterflies

 

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When you see a butterfly, what do you feel? Do you feel happiness? Maybe even a sense of peace? Now, consider for a moment a world without butterflies. Would the world really be all that different? Yes, the world would go on, but at what cost? When we skip the recycle bin for the sake of convenience or use paper plates because its been a long day, we are living in the present and not considering the future. The choices we make effect the whole environment and especially the butterfly. The butterfly is such a fragile creature and it truly reflects the health of an environment. The slightest shift can cause a decrease in the butterfly’s population. We grab round-up instead of old fashioned weed pulling just to save some time, but do we consider the fact that our laziness could decimate a population in our local area. I get passionate when I speak of such things. To think that the choices I make every day really do effect all creatures large and small. You see, I really want you all to feel the disparity of us ridding the world of butterflies. If they do go extinct, there is no one to blame, but ourselves. Each year, we see less and less until one day not a single one may be left. What a shame that would be, but only if we let that happen. I believe that you like me will do everything possible to keep that from happening.

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I will not give up until I’ve made every possible effort in conserving the butterfly. You see, when we start caring about the butterfly, we start caring about a lot of other things. We start thinking about the plants and trees that are essential to butterflies to complete their life. God has used the butterflies in many ways to start me on a journey that is passionate about inspiring people to take action. I pray it takes me on many other journeys that goes far beyond just butterflies. My mom has been taking me to libraries in North Carolina to share this passion about butterfly conservation. It has really been a blessing to meet people that are also concerned about butterflies. If you are interested in how to help butterflies, please leave me a comment or check out my book. https://www.createspace.com/4083202

Library presentations: http://www.wakegov.com/libraries/events/Pages/butterflies.aspx 

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Butterflies and Insects of Summer

 

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There is something magnificent about spring turning into summer. Yes, it ushers in the heat, but it is when the butterflies begin to come out and flowers begin blooming. It is the time when the sounds of crickets feel the night air and all sorts of insects begin visiting my garden. You simply have to accept the good bugs with the bad. That is part of nature and maintaining a balance in the garden. A few chew marks are worth accepting if it means protecting the butterflies from fatal pesticides.

butterfly garden

This is the second year of my garden and it expands each year. I have host and nectar plants for the butterflies. The host plants supply a feeding frenzy for butterfly caterpillars and nectar plants provide food for the adult butterflies. A Monarch caterpillar can consume an entire plant so it is better to have “too much” than not enough.

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There are all sorts of bugs that visit my garden. Some familiar and others unknown, but many are welcome in my garden. There is one insect though that I can’t tolerate and that is the Japenese beetle (pictured below). They multiply by the day so in order to avoid pesticides, it requires a daily ritual of picking them off. If you hold soapy water beneath them, you can knock them into it. We just knock them into water and then dump them into the chicken coop. They devour them in a matter of seconds. They say one persons trash is another’s treasure. Well, chicken treat in this case.

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Here is a Japanese beetle on my bee balm.

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A Cosmos flower.

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Tiger Swallowtail on Zinnia flower

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Zinnia

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A sunflower getting ready to bloom.

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Flies on a carrot flower.

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I’m working on planting hundreds of Milkweeds. I have to replant them yearly since they are tropical. They are fast growing, so I’m planting them while I work on establishing my native Common Milkweed. You can get free Milkweed seeds here. http://livemonarch.org/

Butterfly Book Cover

To learn more about butterflies and how to raise them, you can buy my butterfly book here: https://www.createspace.com/4083202 I recently finished this second edition the end of May. It is available at Create Space and on Amazon.