You Capture Spring

I’ve been participating in a photo forum on Thursdays. Brought to us by Beth, at I Should Be Folding Laundry (me too, by the way), it’s called You Capture. Every week there is a new theme. This week it was “Spring.”

Spring is here in southeastern North Carolina, and with it comes days warm enough to finally return to the beach, strawberries to pick at the local fields, nights warm enough to finally sit outside on the patio and enjoy a glass of wine, our annual Azalea Festival and spring breaks.

I took a vacation from work (and blogging) and spent the last two weeks having the whole family over for an authentic southern meal (fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, butter-beans with pork neck bones, fresh tomato salad and sour cream pound cake) for my youngest son’s birthday, rushing to the emergency room right in the middle of beating the eggs into the pound cake batter because my mom passed out from not being able to breathe (she’s fine now and getting treatment), driving to and from New York in two days to pick up two giggly fifteen year old girls (my step daughter and her BFFL)  who spent their spring break with us, dragging the two girls to an Azalea Festival Parade, street fair, fireworks,  garden tour, the beach, a “girl day” complete with mani-pedis and mimosas, going out to dinner several times (which added another ten pounds to my already disgusting weight gain!) and visiting a couple of local garden centers to pick up hundreds of dollars worth a few flowers to plant in my flower beds.

Whew! Did I leave anything out? Probably, but you get the general idea.

Of course, I toted my camera everywhere with me, snapping  hundreds thousands of photos of just about everything! Because everything around here is just so darn gorgeous right now, y’all!

Azaleas and dogwoods are the stars of the festival.

Along with the Azalea Belles!

The North Carolina Azalea Festival is held in April every year in Wilmington, NC. It’s a celebration of everything exceptional about Wilmington: artwork, gardens, rich history and culture.  It is a grand party, southern style, that includes entertainment, a parade, a street fair, a circus, several concerts, pageantry, and of course, authentic southern belles in a variety of pretty costumes.

I have so many gorgeous photos to share, that I’ve decided to start posting again in my other blog, Wilmington Daily Photo, which I have neglected since (gasp!) spring of last year!

Next week’s challenge on You Capture is “Pink!” I will definitely be back to post lots of pink flowers, dresses  hats and poodles from my collection of hundreds thousands of springtime photos!

Going Home

This is my home, Wilmington, North Carolina. I was born here, but I haven’t always lived here. My family relocated to Florida when I was five years old. But Wilmington was always home.

Most families leave home to go on vacation. My family’s vacation was to go home.

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.  ~Charles Dickens

Yesterday’s challenge on the Daily Word was What is your favorite word? Why?

“Home” is the best word to my ears. It conjures up comfort, warmth, familiarity, love.

My family moved a lot when I was a kid. I went to thirteen different schools in twelve years. Some years, I went to different schools in the same year. It was hard to feel like you had a “home” when your home kept changing from one rented house to another every few months.

I guess that’s why “home” became so important to me. I needed, desperately, a place that I could feel connected to.

Every year, in the summer, my parents would pack my brother and myself into the back of whatever car we happened to have at the time, from whatever city in Florida we were living in, and they would say, “We’re going on vacation kids! We’re going home.”

It was a good twelve-hour ride in the back-seat of the car, cooped up with my younger brother, and books and toys that were supposed to keep us occupied. There was also no air conditioner in the cars in those days, so it was hot. My dad liked to get a good early start, which meant getting up at three am so we could be on the road by four.

After a long day on the road, enduring the heat and the constant bickering with my brother about who was taking up more room, the best part for me was driving over the Cape Fear River and my first view of home.

My dad would say, “Look, kids! We’re home!”

I would get a lump in my throat. I would crane my neck to look out of the backseat window, so I could get a view of the familiar Wilmington waterfront – the church spires, the boats in the river including the majestic BATTLESHIP NORTH CAROLINA, the quaint historic buildings.

Going home meant visits with friends and relatives; aunts and uncles, cousins, both grandmothers. It meant playing on my grandmother’s front porch, eating from a huge pot of goulash that was prepared by her loving hands, going to sleep on the back porch with my cousins, listening to the crickets, giggling under the covers.

Going home meant spending the day under Johnny Mercer’s Pier at Wrightsville beach, slathering on Coppertone, eating hot dogs with chili and  coleslaw, riding the waves on rented canvas rafts, walking on the beach listening to the seagulls screams mingling with the joyous cries of children playing in the surf, smelling cotton candy and popcorn and salty air.

Going home meant listening to my parents laugh, watching them try to dance the shag and cut up with their friends from high school, getting up early to eat scrambled eggs and taste sweet coffee in my grandmother’s kitchen. It was listening to old stories about how things used to be. It was belonging somewhere.

Now I am 53 years old. I have lived my entire adult life back in, or near, my hometown. There is no one house that I can point to and say – that was my home. I have adopted the whole city as mine. Today, driving over the bridge and seeing my precious city still brings tears to my eyes.

I’m still happy to be home.

You Capture Still Life

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I found a new photo blog to participate in on Thursdays! It’s called You Capture. Every week there is new theme. This week’s was “Still Life.”

Click on the link here to read about how to play along. Then, do your best to visit the other participants’ site – everyone loves the traffic, the comments and the feedback (not just you!) Next week’s photo challenge is Technology. I’m not sure how I’m going to tackle that one!

These are some of the photos I captured on a recent lazy afternoon we spent in downtown Wilmington, NC.  Wilmington is a beautiful city, rich in history and natural scenery. As a Wilmington native, I am always jumping at the chance to show off my hometown.

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The downtown area offers a wide variety of restaurants, bars and shops that are unique, interesting and full of character. Outdoor dining is a pleasant way to spend a few hours. You might even spot a Hollywood star while you’re lingering over your dessert!

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To see more photos of the historic Wilmington, NC  area, visit my photo blog, Wilmington Daily Photo.

Shadow Shot Sunday – Oak Trees

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I started a new blog, called Wilmington Daily Photo. I post a picture daily, of my beautiful, historic, riverfront hometown of Wilmington, NC. This is to participate in The City Daily Photo, which showcases photos of cities all over the world. Nobody was doing Wilmington, and I have a TON of good photos, so I thought, “Why not?”

And I love to log onto The City Daily Photo and see my daily picture of little old Wilmington, NC, right next to the likes of Paris, France, Kuching Malaysia, or Hove, UK. Pretty cool, huh?

So now, everywhere I go, I’m on the hunt for a picture. Because having to have something to post everyday is a daunting task, y’all. In this shot, I was riding in the car, trying to get a shot of some of the old homes downtown. Wilmington has a lot of centuries old oak trees and the shadows they cast are wonderful.

shadow-shot-sunday-logo11Shadow Shot Sunday is a cool idea for a meme that has folks posting photos of shadows, and then linking back to Hey Harriet’s blog so everyone can visit each others pictures. (And leave comments -it’s the blogger’s crack.)

A Wilmington Landmark for Blue Monday

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This very blue restaurant sits at 2 Market Street in Wilmington, North Carolina. It was the Union Restaurant, back in the 1920’s. In the 1980’s, it became famous as Roy’s Riverboat Landing. Today it is The Union Cafe. Whatever it’s name happens to be, y’all, there is no other place quite like it. Yes, you can actually dine upstairs on the tiny balcony, at a tiny, romantic table for two, overlooking the Cape Fear River.

downloadThis photo is for Blue Monday, a meme started by Smiling Sally.

It’s easy to do, and pretty self-explanatory. Post a photograph of something blue, go to Blue Monday, here, and add your blog. Then sit back and wait for the comments to roll in! Oh yeah, and it helps if you spread some bloggy love, by commenting on all the other lovely blue pictures.

Ten Reasons Why Wilmington, NC is my Favorite Hometown

This week’s spin cycle, brought to us by Sprite’s Keeper at  www.sprteskeeper.com is about favorites. We were supposed to go through our archives, find our favorite blog and post the link or copy it into a new post, or something equaly mystifying, but since I’ve only been blogging for a few months, and since I don’t know how to work the link thingy, I decided to write about one of my favorite places, WIlmington, N.C., instead.

So here are ten reasons why I love Wilmington. I’m going to let the pictures do the talking, since they can say a thousand words, silently, without any typos.

1. The Battleship North Carolina makes her home here, the centerpiece of the Wilmington Riverfront and a living Memorial to the men and women who fought in the pacific theater of WWII.

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2. The HENRIETTA III, a steamboat on the Cape Fear River.  A trip on the HENRIETTA III is a scenic experience, complete with dinner, dancing and narration by Captain Carl Marshburn.

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3. The Waterfront, along the Cape Fear River, filled with charming historic buildings, homes and the churches that gave Wilmington her nickname, ” The City of Churches.”

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4. Horsedrawn Carriage Tour’s impressive horses and costumed drivers narrate the journey, as passengers ride past the stately mansions, impressive restored homes and the cobblestone and brick streets of historic downtown Wilmington.

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5. Johnny Mercer’s Pier, the gem of Wrightsville Beach. It used to be made of wood, before being destroyed by Hurricane Fran in 1996. It was rebuilt in concrete in 2001, and is considered one of the most popular attractions in southeastern North Carolina.

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6. Every year, in April, Wilmington is home of the Azalea Festival, which includes a grand parade along the riverfront.

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7. Southern Belles in the Azalea Festival. These local beauties wear authentic antebellum dresses and have come to symbolize the Festival season as much as the flowers they represent.

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8. The incredible beauty of our beaches. This is a rocky stretch near Fort Fisher, and a favorite spot for fishermen.

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9. Summer Rest Road, a little slice of heaven on earth, located along the scenic Intracoastal Waterway. The mature live oaks and the dangling Spanish moss make this one of the most tranquil spots in the area.

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10. Wrightsville Beach, in the fall, at sunset. There is no better time, and no better place on earth to relax, unwind and reconnect with nature.

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