Well, we made it to my sister Mary's home this evening in one piece, and after two nights in two hotels/B&B's, it's nice to be in a home again. Before we got here, we sure had fun at the Biltmore "House" and "garden." Yeah, that's the understatement of the year. Prior to hitting the Biltmore, we enjoyed a wonderful home-cooked meal for breakfast at The Sweet Biscuit Inn. After breakfast, the owner, Robert, took Ali on a little expedition in the front yard looking for 'critters.' Her uncle Mike the herpetologist would have been proud! They were plastic critters, but I taught Ali the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, and we determined the difference between snapping turtles and sea turtles. Good fun!
Once it was time to leave the beautiful Sweet Biscuit Inn, we headed for the Biltmore Estate, which was just a short jaunt from our B&B. Thanks again to the nurses Kendra and others who are running for Bella, Daylon, Jonah, and Tripp on Saturday in Asheville for putting us up! That was so nice!
Anyway, as soon as we drove into the grounds, I could tell it was going to be magical. The place was simply B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. I am super mad because I have a slide show with no less than 41 pictures I took and edited, and I can't figure out how to get the code on this page. Grr..... First I tried downloading smilebox, and it wouldn't install on my mac for some reason. Then, I downloaded Slideroll Gallery AV, no dice, and finally I downloaded Visual Slide Show. My three options are to publish to a local folder on my computer, publish to a FTP server, or insert to a HTML page. GREAT! I thought, except they mean an HTML page inside an html editor on my computer, which I don't use, thanks to google's blogspot online editor. FOILED! It's now after 2 am and I am just beat and frustrated.
Someone tell me what is a free slideshow viewer I can use with blogspot? I don't want the slideshow in the sidebar, I want to insert it like a photo or video write in the blog entry. Thanks!
The Biltmore was wonderful. The gardens captivated me. I have really fallen in love with:
1) photography, and
2) simple things
My brain lacks the ability currently to grasp complex things. I find beauty in simplicity these days. The sky, a tree, grass, falling leaves, flowers. Not a day goes by that I don't stop and marvel at one of these things. It reminds me of God's promise to Noah when He sends Noah a rainbow. I feel like all these objects in nature are like that rainbow. They are God's messages saying, "Hey, I know you are hurting, so I sent beauty to surround you wherever you go. All you have to do is look for it."
It's that second sentence where a lot of people get tripped up I think. Folks, the beauty IS all around you RIGHT NOW, it simply requires effort on YOUR part to look for it. It is not handed to you. You can walk down the street looking at your feet or the concrete and never notice the sky. You can put on your ipod and miss the sound of wind chimes singing to the whim of the breeze. You can dart home from work every day as fast as you can and miss the beauty of a tree-lined side road that is simply glowing from falling leaves.
At one point, I crossed simply the most beautiful set of wind chimes while we were in the garden store. They were nicknamed, "The Stratavarious of Chimes," and they were simply hypnotic. I couldn't stop playing with them; they sounded more like quartz toning bowls than wind chimes. They were also GIGANTIC. Amazing, soothing, deep, rich tones emanated from this chime. It was like the sound of heaven for me. I could hear Bella in the hum of the harmonious tones vibrating gently into my very soul. It made me really sad, and I needed to sit down and grieve for a little bit, but the pain had a beautiful, almost exquisite quality to it.
I was healing.
Just a little.
I'll take it.
Can't wait to meet all y'all who are comin' to the shindig at Bolton Park in Winston-Salem tomorrow. I am too tired to continue. Remind me tomorrow to tell you more about Mary's awesome family, okay?
P.S. Important info regarding memorials... start times have changed everywhere except here in NC:
TX: 5 pm on Tuesday Nov. 2 ???
AZ: 5 pm on Friday Nov. 5 (hopefully) at The Franciscan Renewal Center ("The Casa")
CA: 2pm on Sunday Nov. 14 at Chapman University Wallace Chapel
Please make a note of it! We are STILL working on locations for TX and AZ, please be patient! It will hopefully be in the north Dallas area in TX and in Paradise Valley in AZ. Thank you for your understanding!
P.P.S. I almost forgot! I will be selling and signing copies of "Bella's Blessings: a Humble Story of Providence" tomorrow at the NC gathering. Books are $20 in person, so take this opportunity to pick one up for you, and one up for a friend for Christmas!
I never get tired of looking at those eyes, do you?