Sunday, December 17, 2017

Grove Arcade -- Asheville, NC

A long time ago we were newly married and set out to explore areas of the United States where we thought we might want to live.  We landed in Appalachia, built a house way up in the mountains, and established ourselves in careers around Asheville, NC.  By the 1970s, Asheville's heyday of opulence and elegance were far behind and dark days and hard times had fallen.  Its beautiful old buildings were empty and deteriorating, eaten up by dark years of urban decay.     
But in our forty years of absence, downtown Asheville has made a stunning comeback!  The Grove Arcade is an example.  I used to pass this empty behemoth just about every day, eyeless with its big shopwindows covered, people sleeping in the once-ornate doorways, broken bottles, newspaper and plastic bags swirling in its corners.  And I always longed to know what beauty was hidden inside.  
Well, I wonder no more! Downtown Asheville has made a stunning comeback and the Grove Arcade is the cornerstone of a city wonderfully restored to its former bustling glory.  

"I had a little drug business in Paris, Tennessee, just barely making a living, when I got up a real invention, tasteless quinine. As a poor man and a poor boy, I conceived the idea that whoever could produce a tasteless chill tonic, his fortune was made.”—E.W. Grove

E.W. Grove did indeed make a fortune with his "chill tonic" for relief of malaria and set out to create his architectural vision of elegance in Asheville.  He built the Battery Park Hotel and across the street from it began construction of a 269,000 sq. ft. indoor "shopping palace".  Although he died before it was completed, the Arcade opened in 1929. 

Winged lions still flank the entrance where I used to pass the homeless sleeping out of the wind.

The lion entrance is on the side by the tall building on the right, the Battery Park Hotel, which is now apartments for seniors.  This old photo from the back gives you an idea of the size of the building.  
(Grove had envisioned a five story base with 14-story tower of shops and apartments.  The tower was never built.)

The Arcade now has shops, restaurants, offices, and 42 apartments.  Skylights, offices, and apartments are on the upper levels, shops below, indoors, and outdoors under awnings.

Take the old elevators ("Going up.  Watch your step, Madam.").


enter the wooden door with the wreath and take one of the enclosed circular staircases.  

When the Arcade first opened in 1929 it housed shops, offices, services such as barbers and hairdressers, a photographer, fruit stand, grocers.  It was closed when the federal government took over the building for the war effort in World War II, evicting 74 shops and 127 offices with less than a month's notice.  Led by a group of citizens, it was named a National Monument, restored to its former glory, and reopened in 2002.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas #1

We had Christmas with The Writer's children this weekend.  The family with three 
little boys was missing because they were snowed in in the North Carolina mountains.  You can imagine, they were three very unhappy little boys.

The adults were disappointed, too, because they didn't get to play with any of the new toys under the tree!

This is a group that thrives on competition.  This is the game of Spoons.  You play by passing cards to your neighbor until someone collects four of a kind and grabs a spoon. Then everyone else grabs for a spoon and the person left without one is out.  Everyone brings a wrapped present and when you are out you select and open a gift.  You might be surprised and delighted by your gift but you can't get too attached because the next person out is allowed to steal your gift or select an unopened one.

The Writer is known for his, shall we say unique, gifts.  This year's was ...

... a pink flamingo umbrella!
Even the dog had to get a look at that.

The guys played Corn Hole.  Bags of corn are thrown at a target with a hole for them to fall through.  It was called bean bag when I was a kid but now that it's newly discovered and adults play it, it's called Corn Hole.  
The blocks piled on the left are a game called Jenga.  You stack them all up in a tower and then each person tries to remove an individual block without toppling the whole thing and scattering the players. They hurt if they hit a foot or shin.

The ladies admired the view and kept warm by the fire.  It was rainy and unusually cold for December, about 45 degrees.  The days before it had been in the 70s.   

Hilton Head Island is, of course, surrounded by water and ferries used leave for the mainland from here.m One of the old ferries is sitting at the end of that long dock.

The restaurant used to feed ferry travelers and fishermen, and at night it was a juke joint where black jazz musicians played, liquor flowed, and gambling and other illegal activities took place in the back room.  

Other guests included five dogs.  Five BIG dogs.  
In the picture of Aaron unwrapping the flamingo above there is a nose just above the table. That's Indy, a Texas cattle dog.  

On the right is Bob the Border Collie getting a hug and below a Labradoodle named Dexter.

Briggs, a German Wire-Haired Pointer, is a huge puppy.  He got into lots of mischief and scuffles and picked on all the other dogs.  I expect he will learn some manners soon.

The fifth dog is a lab/Great Dane combo named Kenzie who also loved my lap. 

When the door bell rang for pizza delivery, it was barking bedlam!

Rosie was invited but declined to attend.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Life Gave Me Lemons

I did not know lemons had such a long growing season.  

Our tree bloomed inside the sunroom in cold late February.  It was just covered with blossoms which mostly fell off without setting fruit because there were no bees in the sunroom in February. 
Even so, it developed an amazing number of clusters of teeny tiny lemons which grew all summer and fell off the tree one by one until we were down to eight big heavy lemons on a tree not as tall as I am.

All summer and fall they kept growing bigger and bigger but kept their dark green color. 

We were puzzled that they weren't turning yellow until we read that they need cold temperatures for the fruit to ripen.

In late November we had a couple weeks of chilly weather and they finally began getting a yellowish blush ... then a bit more yellow ... and finally they were yellow enough to pick.

Almost 10 months from flower to refrigerator!

(Oh, and another surprise for the northern gardener -- lemon trees have nasty thorns.)

Those of us in North America can thank Christopher Columbus for our lemon pie, lemon curd, lemonade, lemon drops, lemon butter for shrimp, Lemon Pledge, and so on because it was he who brought the first lemon seeds to America on the Hispaniola in 1643.

We are having a hard time deciding what we should use our eight special lemons for.  
What would you make? 

Monday, December 4, 2017

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

"Look what they brought in the house."

"No one's looking, are they?"

"I'll just take a tiny poke at this shiny dangly thing."

"It was the dog!  I saw it!  It was that dog!
I'm outa here."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cotton-Pickin' Time

It's nearing the end of November and most of South Carolina's 250,000 acres of cotton have been picked.  On a drive through cotton country, these long modules of picked cotton lie, waiting for the heavy equipment to load them and take them to the gin.  The longest modules in the field weigh 20,000 lbs, the shortest 5000 lbs.

Pre-Civil War times                               

and 20 years ago, before modules were
compacted in the field
One of the oldest producers of US cotton, South Carolina, after two years of crops decimated by rain, expects to break the state record.  Alas, poor Texas and Georgia farmers' fields, hit by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, look like this:
Texas Farm Bureau Photo 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gobble, Gobble

We are heading south to gobble down Thanksgiving dinner with family.  We cooked it yesterday and it's in the trunk, ready to heat and serve. 
Whether or not it's Thanksgiving Day today where you live, I hope you can take a special moment to spend in gratitude for your blessings and treasuring those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hangman's Tree

On St. Delight's Road in rural Georgetown stands a cypress tree with a gruesome history that began in pre-Revolutionary War days.  Only a short highway guardrail and a nearly invisible plaque on the old tree's side delineate it, demonstrating ambivalence over man's duty to call attention to ugly deeds.

It is called the Hangman's Tree.

It is known that a group of Tories and British soldiers were executed at the tree during the Revolutionary War, as were unruly slaves, criminals, and at least two Civil War soldiers.

In later times, it was known as the sight of racially-inspired lynchings, but the specifics of those have been expurgated from memory and the victims' names forgotten.  

The tree occupies an ideal location on the line between two counties on a well-traveled old road, and the hangings stood as a powerful deterrent to others contemplating the same crimes.  A massive limb directly over the road held the noose and the body was left hanging for days as a reminder of justice to all who passed.  Vultures and crows called attention to the corpse, as if one could miss the sight of a body twisting and swaying over the center of the road.

The limb was struck by a tractor trailer truck
 several years ago and broken off.  

The scar remains.