Saturday, May 21, 2011

Revisiting America

I continue to meet people on our block. Louisa, daughters, and husband who drives a school bus, are in the basement apartment, displaced by a fire in their home several blocks away in which they lost everything. They're from Trinidad and she has a beautiful accent. The lady that manages our laundromat, Karen, is helping raise two nephews, ages 14 and 16, is having problems with her own health. She works very hard to keep the place clean and respectable. It's just around the corner, so convenient for us. On that same corner is a barbershop that is frequented by "hip-hop" stars. Some one told us that it's not unusual to see limos, all kinds of expensive cars parked there because they give cheap, good haircuts. Met a lady that works there who is going to cut my hair next week, which will be her last week because she's changing careers and will be based in Indiana, beginning her career as a cross-country truck driver. I'm so interested in one brownstone which is a music studio. They teach piano, voice, theory, violin, guitar, brass, drums, reeds, acting and modeling. Would love to meet the instructors. Wish I knew about the circumstances and lives of all the people in these old brownstones, which are well over a hundred years old.
TUntil then:he brownstones: thousands of them, most the old brownstone color and occasionally there is a bright blue one, or a chartruese one, and many are painted off-white. Most of them have black wrought iron railing along the steps, many have wrought iron doors in front of their wooden doors, some doors and windows with stained glass in them. There is decorative woodwork at the roofline, and even gingerbread trim on the roof. Many of the back spaces are planted with gardens and herbs.
So many people, and I'm still pleased with the politeness of everyone.
Saturday, the 14th, we stayed home, I made a huge crock pot of vegetable, ham soup, sorta cleaning out the refrigerator as I went. We shared with Roy, you've already met him. He called later in the afternoon to bring three college students from Mexico who were interested in renting our loft for the summer. They will be studying in Manhattan, computers and music. Very nice, polite young people.
Woke up to a rainy Sunday, but had already decided to go to church in town, rain or shine. We visited St. Patrick's Cathedral's 12:oo noon Mass, celebrating the Fourth Sunday of Easter with The Most Reverand Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York the Celebrant and Homilist. A beautiful service, pretty organ music, but most of all the beauty of the Cathedral kept my mind and eyes wandering all over the place. You really need to visit the Cathedral other than attending a service there so your attention can be given where needed.
Went next door to The Rock Cafe at Rockefeller Center for lunch, on the patio, under a canopy so we could watch the people and traffic as we ate.
Janie spent Monday at a clinic with an ear problem which they never did find the cause, but gave her antibiotics for infection.
Our computer crashed on Saturday, and with HP, over the phone, took off the back, took out the boards, and tried to fix it ourselves. Our next step was to send it back for repairs(free of charge because it is less than a year old, and is still under warranty. So, an executive decision sent us to Best Buy for this inexpensive Toshiba.
Wednesday, the 18th, Milton's birthday, took us to town to see "That Championship Season", with one of our favorite actors, Chris Noth, as well as Brian Cox, Jim Gaffigan, Jason Patric, and Kiefer Sutherland at the Barnard Jacobs Theatre. It was a beautifully written play, and acted superbly by these five men. Met Chris Noth's agent and hoped to go backstage to meet some of the cast, but it didnt work.
We have planned to visit CBS since we've been in New York, so finally Friday afternoon, in the rain, we went to the studio, hoping to talk with someone about our trip. They took our information, gave us a number to call, and to get out of the rain, and for coffee, went in Bobby Flay's restaurant, Bar Americain-very modern decor and we wished we could have sampled some of the dishes taken to tables, also wished he had been there. Anyway, we're hoping CBS will respond, and they just might.
Our next stop was a piano bar-restaurant called Tom and Toon's. Jordan Addison is the pianist and vocalist performing there. We met his parents while staying in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and said we would visit. We were so glad we did because he is truly an entertainer. We were able to visit and have our picture taken with him. Enjoyed a delicious meal too.
Tomorrow we'll visit the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church and hear the wonderful Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, I can hardly wait, then a Yankee's ballgame Wednesday, and Shirley and Marge are coming Thursday and we'll all be staying Manhattan until Sunday. We have quite a few things planned for their visit. Until then:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Revisiting America

Our first Sunday in May was spent on the road getting to New York, so we didn't attend church, but last Sunday, Mother's Day. we began looking in the phone book, internet, etc: for a church.  Found a Southern Baptist church, plugged in to Onstar and away we go.  There are several churches within two blocks of our house, but I guess we were looking for a "white" church.  Well, we rode and rode and finally found the one we had picked.  Well, it was a black church, which really didn't matter that much, but it was different.  A good hour and a half of preliminaries, singing a chorus over fourteen times, visiting, which was alright, passing the collection plate once for the tithe, and again for the offering, the reading of several pledges concerning the money, introducing all mothers, and all visitors, you weren't allowed to sit just where you chose, but only where the usher put you, and finally at 12:30, he opened the Bible and began to read.  I think it would have been a good message, but by then after hearing a few comments, Janie's legs were twitching to badly that she got up and went to the back so she could stand, but the usher said she was the only one allowed to sit in the back during the service.  Well, Janie motioned to me to come to the back and we quitely left-it was 1:30 by this time.  We both felt guilty for leaving, but this wasn't exactly what we had in mind when we went.
YesterdayWednesday, we went into  New York for the musical, "Jersey Boys", and again were amazed at the talent of the performers, the scenery, the music ( my era), the whole atmosphere.  I'm still in awe of all that is involved with a show of this magnitude, reading the playbill and seeing the names of all involved helps me to see the reason the tickets cost so much,( I promise not to mention this again, if I plan to keep going.)
Well, this is one of my favorite things to do so I'll have to be careful about limiting the shows.
Our delimna yesterday in getting into town wasn't the subway, but finding a place to park to get on the subway.  We left home in plenty of time, we thought, but rode around a good thirty minutes looking.  At one time a police car pulled up behind us, got out ( and I thought to give us a ticket) but he said I had made a wrong turn, and I probably did, but I didn't think so at the time.  Anyway, I'm sure he noticed the Alabama tag and that we were two old ladiies, but he tried to help by naming some other places we might park.
Finally, we saw a vacant place, and by this time we were running out of time, parked, and said, "what the heck, they can't keep our car indefinitely if towed, or what is the price of a ticket compared to missing the show.  We ran to the subway, and it seemed to take longer today, got into town at 1:45, Janie called and said we were on our way, walked into the theater at 1:57 p.m.  sat down and finally breathed a sigh of relief, and loved the show.
Not a hitch on the way home.  Happened to walk up the subway stairs right by a KFC  and couldn't resist stepping inside for "take-out".
A good day, and right now, don't have anything scheduled for Thursday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Revisiting America

It's a wonderful town.  I've been before, but not quite like this.  To know we're here for thirty days!
First things first.  We rode and rode to find our apartment, we're in Brooklyn, on Madison Street ( not Avenue), in a black neighborhood, thousands  of brownstones, ours #395.  We were met by Roy who is the caretaker of this brownstone, he's been here since l955.  He's quite elderly, has COPD, and is unable to do much.  As promised, he recruited several people to help get our stuff up to the second floor.  I think we've caught on now, that we get someone's okay to help us before we show them the car and how much stuff we have to move.  David, the main one to help is our friend, and has given us very helpful advice about things to do, our safety, etc:  It didn't take too long but I don't know if he'll be around when we start to leave.
Our apartment, loft style, open floor plan, is about 1000 sq. ft., which is plenty of room, no partitions, bathroom in the hall, (it is private).  A bedrooom is on each end, Janie's in an alcove, with the sitting area by Janie's bedroom, kitchen area and two closets in the middle, my bedroom on the other end.  Furnished okay, except we eat on the coffee table, a two burner stove, only a microwave, everyone has laughed at us for "hauling" so much stuff with us, but the  toaster-oven and crockpot have already earned their place.  Two tv's, WIFI, which is a life-saver.  It's okay, and we did look for something else and for several more thousands we could have moved.  We made the executive decision to stay here and we're fine.
We're doing the same thing here we would do uptown.  I get up early every morning, eat my cereal, drink coffee, walk, make up my bed, think about what's for lunch.  The usual.
The weather has been wonderful, bright blue skies( hundreds of planes flying and they look so pretty against the blue skies), very cool in the morning, warm by noon, light breezes.  Just like in Chatom or anywhere else.
My walk, up Madison street, takes me past brownstones, deli's, schools ( I know "three school crossing guards by name already), many little plots in front of the brownstones planted with flowers, many with nothing but trash, signs saying keep your dogs leashed, clean up after your dog, adults allowed on playgrounds only if accompanied by children;  playgrounds well kept, one particular area laid with artificial turf, men sweeping and cleaning the spaces early each morning, many parents walking their children to school, buses flying by, (our street is like a speedway at times, I know cars are going at least 60 miles an hour), many older men out walking.  I walked Mother's Day morning and every older gentleman I met and even young men said, "Happy Mother's Day.  So, I feel quite safe.  We've been told not to be out after dark by ourselves, which we haven't, but common sense whereever we might be.
We are getting better at using the subway.  Our main problem is finding a spot to park close to the subway entrance (we're about 8 or 10 blocks from the subway entrance).  We take the A train ( remember the song?) which is an express to Times Square for our theatre performances, then yesterday to go to the Met we had to transfer to a local train, then a bus, than walk a few blocks. Our only problem is reversing that procedure, which did cause us a minor problem on the way home.  But we did get here okay, only a little later than we had planned. 
How do I describe our day at the Metropolitian Museum of  Art?  Well, it is beyond description.  We chose to view the Impressionists work, and that alone took hours, and maybe we didn't even see all of it.  There are over 2 million objects on display-paintings, sculpture, decorative art, photography, drawings, prints, musical instruments, costumes, and from around the world; family programs, family greeters, lectures, volunteers at information desks speaking Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portugeuse, Russian, Spanish.  Really, a world all its own.  I'm sure Janie will name many of the artists so I won't do that.
Another very special outing was to see the musical "Billy Elliot"- a brilliant, talented, 11 year old was Billy, and he carried the show, singing, dancing, acting.  It was one of the best shows I've ever seen-two hours and 45 minutes, non-stop entertainment.  I wouldn't dare tell you how much our tickets cost (from here on out we may have to limit our adventures), but it was worth every cent.  We did have wonderful seats, hence the cost.  Would go see it again if it were not so costly!
What did I just say?  Well, we're on our way today to see another musical, "Jersey Boys", and that's all I'm going to say about it.  I'll find some way to explain my way out of this.
Thanks for being so patient about our blogging.  We do get so busy, and it does take me a lot of time, because you are already aware of my limitations on the computer, spelling, phrasing, mis-information.  I do want to apologize to Kathryn Gaston for making an error in naming the church in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  The fresco was at St. Paul's Episcopal Church rather than St. Peter's Episcopal Church.  A reminder to check my facts before I write about them.  Thanks Kathryn.
I have to figure out something for lunch, so until the next time, know that we're okay, blessed to be doing what we're doing and can't believe we are in our 5th month.
Forgot to tell you about our church service Sunday, so I'll do it later

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Revisiting America

I haven't blogged in so long, it seems like the very first time (partial song lyric).  I'll pick up with our entry into Blowing Rock, NC.  The Friday afternoon, April 1, when we arrived, it had started to snow.  At first miniature flakes, then larger flakes, and lots of them.  When we finished grocery shopping and walked out, it was a full-fledged snow.  So exciting to us.  Maybe not so much to the folks who lived there and were probably tired of it.  We had asked the manager to recommend someone to help us move into the condo, and he called Warren Davis for us.  Warren met us at the condo, and we immediately liked him.  Tall, light-brown hair, ready smile, and a very engaging personality.  Also, a hard worker.  He had the car unloaded before we know what was happening.  He stayed and talked to us for a little while and invited us to attend Laurel Fork Baptist Church.
We did, and had lunch afterward at the church, with bluegrass music after lunch.  The Backroom Bluegrass Band was awesome.
When we attended church the following Sunday at First Baptist Church in Blowing Rock, we were introduced to Marshall and Doris Edwards, who became our Blowing Rock "Angels."  In this definition of angel, it is a person(s) who helps you to integrate yourself into a community.  Doris invited us to the Ladies'
Bible Study at the church on Monday morning, followed by lunch with her and Marshall.  We attended the Bible Study and enjoyed it very much.  Met Cathy Williamson who called Jeff Eason, a reporter for the Blowing Rocket newspaper, and he called us and arranged for an interview.  Jeff was very easy to talk to and a good listener (earmarks of a good reporter).  Jeff was a bearded man of medium height who lived in and loved Blowing Rock.  When he asked us what we had not done yet, but intended to do, we told him that Dena Lutes (a First Baptist Church parishioner), had said that we should not miss the local frescoes.  It sounded intriguing because who knew that there were frescoes in a small town in North Carolina.  Anyway, Jeff said that he was a friend of Roger Nelson, the fresco painter, and looked up Roger's number for us.
We called Roger and arranged to meet him the following Monday morning.  Roger is a handsome, charismatic man.  Long, curly dark hair, rimless glasses that don't hide dark, intelligent, very observant eyes.  He brought along his 8-year-old daughter, Rachel, a smart, pretty girl.  We piled into Roger's older Toyota van (over 300,000 miles) and headed for Tynecastle subdivision, on a neighboring mountain.  There we met up with Brett Schwebke who "is" Tynecastle Builders.  Brett built the three homes that we were allowed to enter to see Roger's frescoes.  The first house was my favorite - designed, built, and furnished by Brett.  If there was a piece of furniture that Brett had in mind, and he couldn't find it, he would design it and have it custom made.  That included light fixtures as well.  The house was one of the most gorgeous private homes I've ever been in.  Brett is an artist as well as a builder. 
Roger's first fresco was a a scene set in the mountains, a couple of men seated at a table with a woman standing by the table.  The fresco ended at the bottom with a trompe l'oiel border that continued the painting onto the tile of a beautiful sideboard.  When working on the fresco, Roger asked Brett what he liked for breakfast.  When Brett answered, "Eggs Benedict", Roger painted them onto the plate of one of the men seated at the table.  The people looked like they could step out of the painting and start talking to you.  The fresco was absolutely beautiful and we were amazed at the depth of Roger's talent.
The second house was larger than the first, and the fresco in this one was over the mantle in the living area.  The American Indian was the subject.  They worked with an Indian (Two Bills), who lived in the area, for several months to learn stories about his life and the life of his tribe.  He posed for several of the figures.  Again, an incredible fresco, that brought alive some of the history, religion, and art of the American Indian.
The last house was the largest of all and unfurnished.  There were 2 frescoes over opposite mantels, again in the living area.  One depicted Daniel Boone, the other his wife Rebecca.   Beautiful and very lifelike figures incorporated into the living conditions of the time, cabins, gardens, livestock, etc.  In the dining room, there was a third fresco with frontiersmen, horses, and mountains.  There was a spirit-like figure of a woman in the mountains with one hand raised, making a fist.  When I asked Roger what the figure represented, he said, "You have to answer that for yourself."  We felt special because we had met, talked with, and learned from two very creative men.
Will add more later because, right now, I am brain dead or, at the very least, brain fatigued.  But it is fun to remember all of the wonderful things we did in Blowing Rock and the fantastic people we met.  If you ever have a chance to visit Blowing Rock, take it.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Revisiting America

Finally.  Pictures from South Carolina.  Enjoy!

Inside the cottage on Greenlakes Drive, Kiawah Island, SC.

The Angel Oak on John's Island, SC (between our cottage and Charleston).

Magnolia Plantation outside of Charleston.

The whole reason for the trip.


Atlantic Ocean near our condo in SC.

Lou and Janie

Revisiting America

I keep thinging of things I should have mentioned in the last blog but because of poor note-keeping I didn't mention them.
One, our landlords were so extremely nice and accomodating.  The condo had everything we needed and more, plus the fabulous views.  Would love to spend more time there.  Thank you Susan and Blake Shirley!
And, another of our serendipities-we were sitting in Kojay's (remember we had to go there to be connected to WIFI and Phyllis and John allowed us to use the porch or even go inside when closed to the public) using the computer when a couple( Kitty and Harley Gaston) came in and sat next to us.  We began talking, they were from Charlotte, but  owns a house in Blowing Rock with her brothers, and we mentioned our trip (we always have our Charles Kuralt book out on the table in plain view).  She said,"Oh, I knew him in high school, from junior high on.  He was several years older and in one of my brother's classes."  She shared more about Kuralt with us-after college he performed in "Antigone", he was the chorus; Charlie, as she called him, didn't play sports, was a good scholar, and was born with "that voice"; interested in journalism and worked with local newspaper while in school. We have found that anyone who knew Kuralt loved him and speak highly of him. We were so glad to have Kitty share with us.  
Janie has mastered putting pictures on our blog, so we will include them from now on.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Revisiting America

The Mile-High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina

Gedney M. Howe, III, the man who restored the Calhoun Mansion in Charleston, SC

The pineapple fountain in Battery Park in Charleston, SC

The pictures above are a test run for the blog as promised long ago.  If this works, there will be many more.
Please comment.

Lou and Janie

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Revisiting America

Attending the Bible study class on Monday morning we were introduced to Kathy Williamson, owner of the local ice cream parlor-chocolate shop.  She suggested an interview with Jeff Eason, editor of "The Blowing Rocket".  He called, came over to our condo, interviewed us, and we made front page news.  He said it really was because there were no murders that week.  We expected several paragraphs, but were given space on two pages.  We were talked to by some in town who read the article.  There are no more copies,
 we bought them all. Don't know whether one made it to the Washington County News or not.
Meeting and talking with Jeff led us to two more wonderful people-artists
We were told by Dina Lutz, another wonderful lady we met at church, not to leave Blowing Rock without viewing some fresco paintings by Roger Allen Nelson.  We were given his number, we called and he invited us to meet with him on Monday at 9:00 and he would take us to see some of his work.  Well, that turned into a whole day of winding mountain roads, in Roger's Toyota van(with 300,000 miles on it) going it felt like 60 miles an hour, maybe not quite that fast, but he did know the roads.  What a special gift.  He is truly an artist beyond any thing I could have ever imagined.
Roger is an accomplished artist, trained in classical realism, led by his talent and passion into the demanding, meticulous medium of fresco.  Earned degrees in Fine Arts/Art History from the University of Minnesota, he first studied under Richard Lach and Ives Gammel and began developing a taste for larger work and public art, when commissioned by the City of Minneapolis  to design and paint murals.
After buying land and a home in North Carolina he turned toward carpentry and renovation, then plans, renderings and elevations for local architrects, then set designs and drawings for movies.  All of this led to the turning point in his life, when he met the world-renowned fresco master Ben Long.  Roger signed on as a volunteer assistant to work  on a fresco already begun at St. Peter's Church in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  This led to Roger being named Chief Associate Artist to Long, working with him on frescoes in North Carolina and France, also becoming an instructor at The Fine Arts League of Asheville where he teaches Artistic Anatomy and Life/Figure Drawing.  Roger began accepting solo commissions in 2000.
Fresco painting is said to be the most ancient of art forms, and perhaps the most arduous.
Pre-dating recorded history, fresco came to be known during the Renaissance as "The Mother of All Arts"
because learning to master the pure pigments and natural elements of fresco painting gives the artist insight into every aspect of art.  Fresco means ":fresh" in Italian and refers to an art form with a canvas of wet plaster.  Pure pigments, suspended in distilled water, are drawn into the surface as the plaster dries.
Though refined, the methods used today are similar to those that have been practiced for many millennia.
Lime is quarried, kiln-fired, slaked, and applied to the fresco.  Soon, a chemical reaction takes place between the calcium hydroxide plaster and the carbon dioxide in the air.  During this time, the colors must be applied, since they will adhere to the new limestone crystals that are forming.  The lime then dries, sealing the pigment in as it reverts to its original rock-solid state.  Before any work proceeds the artist spends many months planning and committing the design to paper. 
Figure studies, cartoons, figure types and poses all must be meticulously executed along with the overall logistics and preparations.
Depending on their size, frescoes are painted in sections with each portion completed in a single day.  Being an unforgiving medium, if mistakes are made, the plaster must be removed and the entire section begun again.  Many frescoes are created by a team of collaborators because of the multiple steps in the process, the magnitude of work, and the importance of timeliness.  This could include the artist, an assistant, an associate artist, the mason, and the architect.
When completed, the fresco is "married", so to speak, to the building that houses it, creating a permanent masterpiece for the ages.
The nearly 20-year restoration of the Sistine Chapel at the end of the last century brought renewed interest in fresco painting.  The technique's skill level and use of natural materials is appealing to new generations of art lovers. 
Roger believes fresco is the best medium for painting on a grand scale.  Vast surface areas can be covered.  Because of the fundamental plasticity of the lime plaster it conforms to many platforms, such as curved or domed surfaces, flat walls, or odd shapes.
Modern building methods and materials have greatly improved the stability of the fresco wall, preventing cracking and moisture problems.  Also, new pigments have greatly enhanced the colors of the fresco artist's pallet.  Today's heating and air conditioning, and air filtering systems provide the ideal environment for fresco, something unknown by the masters of the past.
Now to  another part of the story.  We were able to view a fresco in the chapel at an orphanage in Crossnore, then on to frescoes in private homes, built by a friend of Roger's.
Brett Schwebke, a builder of Tynecastle Builders, and Roger are friends and artists together.  Brett builds homes on a mountain of about 500 acres, owned by his family now into the third generation.  Having spent the better part of the last three decades in the mountains, Brett sees the mountains, still, through a child's eyes, sharing with everyone about the enchantment of the land.  Tynecastle, tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains between Banner Elk and Linville gives the builder challenges unlike any other building process.
Brett considers timing the key to his building-a shorter building season, months to get the foundations to grade, choosing a proper sight and orienting the house properly, and most of all, understanding the lifestyle that the owners' desire.  The many craftsmen and artisans in the area give Brett and his team the opportunity to offer their client a home limited only by their imagination.  Each home is entirely unique.  Centuries old timbers, native materials, Old World style frescoes, hand-forged, iron, custom, one-of-a-kind light fixtures, and custom cabinetry give the owner this uniqueness.  Brett says he builds only one home at the time so he can devote all of his time to the project.  We were taken into three privately owned homes by Brett to see the frescoes painted by Roger.  I can't describe the beauty of the homes or the paintings but hopefully some pictures will be forthcoming.  Brett designs much of the furniture, or shops for it, designs the light fixtures, the whole package.  After viewing the homes they  took us to the top of the mountain, the highest peak in the area, which is in the Tynecastle estate.  Brett's grandfather owns a barbeque restaurant on the property, so we were treated to lunch, wonderful barbeque and banana pudding for dessert. 
My, this was an experience.  Janie and I "oohed" and "aahed" until we were tired, and never did come up with adequate words to express what we had seen.
And that wasn't all.  We then went to Roger's home and studio where he again explained the process of fresco, showed us many of his paintings in progress, and allowed us to ask many questions. 
We were home, finally, around 4:00, absolutely worn out, amazed at what we had seen and heard, realizing too, that we were the only two people that had ever been given such an awe-inspiring gift.  We will certainly remain grateful for the time these two talented artists spent with us.
Now you can see why we were reluctant to leave Blowing Rock.  Our time there was truly unblieveable.
Can't imagine we will ever forget the people or the places .

Revisiting America

Lynn Lawrence of the mother-daughter duo, is First Baptist secretary, the mayor's wife, coordinator of many community activities, so attractive, likeable, funny, and a walking-talking guide about anything pertaining to Blowing Rock.  As the mayor's wife, she's out front when things are happening in her town.  She's a special friend of Jan Karon, author of the Mitford series, who wrote the books in Blowing Rock and used many people in town as characters in the series, of course, the names are changed.  Betty Pitts' home is next door to Jan Karon's home.  Lynn called  Jan and told her about our trip and she said a special "hello" to us and wished us well as we continue the adventure.  Jan is in town many times during the years for different fund-raising events and will be there the first week in June for lectures and gatherings.
Lynn wrote and narrates a Mitford tour and we were fortunate to be able to enjoy this with Lynn and mom, Betty.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Revisiting America

It has been too long since I've blogged-- I really don't know where to start.  Haven't taken very good notes or journaled daily so this will be a big jumble of happenings, probably not in order.  But, I 'll do my best to share about an incredible month in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.  All excuses aside, here we go.
My first blog in Blowing Rock did describe scenery out our doors facing the mountains.  The view seemed to get prettier with every passing day;   like a different place every hour with the mix of clouds, wind, and rain. 
We teased that we moved our church letter to First Baptist Church, Blowing Rock because after the visit to Laurel Fork that first Sunday we frequented First Baptist.  On the 10th we attended the 11:00 service and met wonderful folks, were invited to Monday a.m. Bible study where we met with ladies.  We were singled out by several of the ladies who tried to include us in everything.
Marshall and Doris Edwards took us to lunch at "Canyon's restaurant, good food and beautiful views of the mountains.  Doris and Marshall met at Baylor University, he a divinity student, Doris a music major(she is pianist at First Baptist).  They've been in Blowing Rock for 11 years, own their home, and are very active in church and community.  There is a joke about Marshall-he's called "The Reverend Holy Rascal" and anyone new in the church he takes them on a tour of the village, not stopping and letting them out of the car for two hours.  Well, we got the narrated tour and were thrilled because we saw and heard about so many places and people we wouldn't have known about otherwise.  Marshall began his ministry in Batesville, Texas, spent time also in Waco and Austin, is now retired and is Pastor Emeritus at First Baptist.  Doris leads seminars, leads groups of missionaries in English classes, and devotes her time where ever she's needed.  They have a son, Scott, an attorney in Dallas, and a daughter Cindy, and there are grandchildren.  We were fortunate to spend more time with them, we had them for coffee at our place, and were involved in other things together.
My TWO DARLINGS SISTERS, Janie and Shirley, conspired with Doris, and I was asked to play for church on Easter Sunday.  Not having touched a piano for months I was quite uneasy, so I spent time at the church practicing.  I played for the Thursday night Maundy service and the Sunrise(6:30) and 11:00 morning worship services.  I was relieved when I was through, and I didn't embarrass myself or anyone else.  It did feel rather good to be playing again.  There is a good music program at the church, involving all ages.  The youth play for the contemporary worship at 9:00 a.m.. 
   We really liked the pastor, Rusty Guenther.  He preached wonderful messages, very well prepared each time we heard him.  It's a very busy, wonderful, caring church- ministries for every age and need. 
Linda and Robert Chastain, from Birmingham, own a mountain, it's been in his family for years, and they've built a beautiful, large home right on the top.  We were able to visit and attend the WMU meeting for April in their home.  We've even been invited to stay wit them when we're in Birmingham.  You can see we didn't neglect our church activities at all during April

We were fortunate to be adopted by Lynn Lawrence and Betty Pitts, mother and daughter.  Betty is the one we understand that people go to when they want things done.  She and her husband, Hayden Pitts (deceased) grew up in Blowing Rock, owned several businesses, he was mayor for many years, and she is still writing a newspaper column started many years ago, and has never missed an issue.  She knows all about everyone and so wittingly tells stories( good stories) about them.  We did get to eat "left-overs" from Easter dinner at her house-Such fun to be with her and be in her home.
The week of Easter we attended Community Holy Week services at St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church,  Monday through Wednesday, with a different speaker each day, and a different church furnishing a meal.  We met so many other people, not Baptist, that we wouldn't have met otherwise;  Meg and Frank Fary, Margaret Joffrian and husband, Luella Rundel, members of the Rumple Presbyterian  Church,and so many more whose names I didn't write down, and have forgotten.  It gave us a chance to see the beautiful churches.  Then on Easter Sunday morning after the Sunrise service the men of the church hosted a community breakfast, which we attended, loved the food, and again met more nice folks like Jack and Lori Sharp, cute young couple, expecting their first child.   He's a civil engineer, in construction and I didn't ask Lori-they own property which at one time was a camp for handicapped children, and their hope is to get the camp up and running again.
A very  special surprise was when Paula Beech from Chatom called and said she and John would be in the area for Easter and the week after, so they came and attended church with us Easter Sunday, then we had lunch together at a very expensive restaurant in an exclusive resort.  We never intended for them to buy lunch for us or we never would have suggested such an expensive place.  Anyway, they bought lunch, which was a wonderful buffet, and we apoligized profusely. It was so good to be with them and talk about their family, and everyone in Chatom.
The resort is called "Chetola" and is owned by Kent Tarbutton who has a marvelous "rags-to-riches" life.  Born in Norfolk, Va., ran away from home at 14, later obtained GED, and a college degree in Psychology.  Worked with autistic kids, then with addicts, and prostitutes.  Aided in his search for himself by an uncle.  Moved ti Blowing Rock as a single dad with his 12 year old daughter.  Considers Blowing Rock a "village", and works hard to keep it that way.  His vision and motto for Chetola, "Make Memories".  It's a beautiful resort, with 48 time-share owners, 226 whole0owned condos of 1 to 5 bedrooms, many of them for rent.  The grounds are landscaped with every kind of tree, flower, and shrub. a huge lake with swans gliding about, a gazebo used for many weddings and affairs, old stone buildings, cobblestone walkways-a beautiful place.
We were told about Kent and were able to call for an interview-We talked for several hours;  he has a wonderful testimony-teaches a men's bible study, has staff prayer meetings, and encourages the women in his workplace to have bible studies. Most of his staff has been with him since the beginning of Chetola. Kent called the Indians who were first in the area of Chetola the first "snow birds".  Kent mentioned many projects he's involved with or has helped with in the past.
One especially was the Cone Mansion, sitting on a hill that overlooks BR.  The Cones fortune was made in textiles, they had no children, fed and clothed many in the area when they were down on their luck.  The house is not furnished anymore, but is maintained by the Park Service.  The story is told that when the Cone's would come to spend the summer, or any other times at the mansion, people would run ahead of the carriage and clear the trail of rocks or debris so the carriage would not be jolted.  Another cause is the fire department-"why would you want them to show up at your home with old, faulty equipment," he said.
After being in Blowing Rock only 2 1/2 weeks his security asked why he picked his daughter up every day after school.  He said she could go to the park, play with her friends, eat greasy hamburgers and if there was a problem someone would call him.  That's the kind of place he wanted his daughter to grow up in.  Morgan is now 27,  a graduate of ASU, taught English in  Japan for 7 years,  loves photography, has traveled extensively.