Your Happy Place

april-26-2009-054-2There are some things that happen in life that make a lasting impression. There are good things and sometimes, sadly not so good things. You want to remember the happy, and enclose the latter in a vault inside your mind’s tunnels and passageways. Or that’s how I handle it anyway.
This weekend was another whirlwind travelathon to visit the offspring at their respective abodes. We began with Chickenpoet, mother of two rising baseball stars, after a too brief visit with friend Laurie and a stroll through the Spring Festival at Exchange Place, a restored small village of log cabins featuring crafts and gardens.april-26-2009-old-camera-baseball-022-2In the midst of Little League season with the brothers on the same team due to their close ages, nine and ten, luck was with us once again as we got to see them both pitch. The older, M.A. was the starter and did a magnificent job with several strike outs. After he tired a bit, G.A., above, the younger took over the mound. M.A. traded places with his brother to the shortstop position. It was a joy to see them play, and they played very well with good hitting and fielding in addition to the pitching. Alas they lost the game, but won our hearts, as always. We went to eat our favorite Mexican food together afterwards. Then it was on to the next leg of the Magic Triangle roadtrip. We wrote about that last year, click here to read about it if you want to learn more details.april-26-2009-025-2Asheville, North Carolina, home of the famous Biltmore Estate and The Hop Ice Cream Cafe was our next destination. We had our season passes to the big house and the plan was to visit first thing the next morning for the Garden Flower Festival was in full swing. A brunch with offspring Brokenbeat and wife, and the Gardoctor now living there as well was the plan for afterwards. april-26-2009-045-2The entrance to the house and gardens at this amazing attraction is a long winding road past mature stands of conifers and deciduous trees underplanted with flowering shrubs, ferns and wildflowers. It is well maintained and a joy to traverse. After passing by the house the curves take you through an archway that reveals the splendor of the intensively planted walled gardens and conservatory. You can see the arch in the right center edge of the wooden oval as we look through the opening of the long arbor that leads to the greenhouses and beyond.april-26-2009-039-2The upper tier of the drivethrough was planted with thousands of pink, dark purple and cream colored tulips. There were many people there visiting this day, and every one gasped with delight as the scene was revealed, for the walls around hid this sight from view until one had entered by car or on foot.april-26-2009-055-2The Financier had decided that the Fairegarden photography studio was in need of new equipment. A box containing the key to the holy grail, the pristine hummingbird shot, had been presented before the excursion to the Biltmore. Yes, dear readers, a new camera was added to the lot, a Canon Powershot sx1 IS. Many things are similar to our old faithful, the Canon Powershot A720 IS, but the new camera has many more features that we will need to study and practice including a 20x zoom. The owner’s manual was brought along as we took shots with both old and new cameras. Finally we found the setting for the macro to superfine and took the Abutilon shot in the conservatory. But we were on a mission and had taken enough photos of flowers.april-26-2009-058-2The shop behind the conservatory, A Gardener’s Place had been closed on our last visit. A phone call had been placed to make sure this dismaying state of affairs would not happen again. The place was open and we set immediately to perusing. The search was for a piece of hardscape for the Fairegarden, a bench preferably. Several were spied, but we settled on this one, minus the large assortment of garden accoutrements. It fit into the vehicle with no problem and we were on our way to the Brokenbeats, satisfied with the results of the hunt.
Once there we entered the house and were greeted as usual. There was a gift in the kitchen for it was my birthday that day. The Gardoctor mentioned that his gift was in the back bedroom if I wanted to check it out. I opened the door and out burst the rest of the offspring and their families. They had completely snookered me, for this was a birthday that ended in the digit nine, not the momentous digit zero. Totally, blissfully, tearfully surprised as they rushed out, with Semi and Chickenpoet elbowing each other to be the first ones out of the gate to yell surprise! We had just seen the Chickenpoet family the day before, but there they all were, and we were to stop at Semi’s on the way home and there they were as well. All surrounding me in a group hug yelling happy birthday. This is a moment that will never ever be forgotten, ever.april-26-2009-020-2april-26-2009-007-2april-26-2009-012-2picture20055-2The sun was shining and we had burgers and birthday cake under the shade of the old apple tree. The three young ‘uns were petting the fish in the pond with Semi and I both trying to capture the moment. Take note how she is crouched with one knee to the ground for stabilization.
LTB carried the birthday cake out as we sat on the new bench and sang the traditional song. A sweet moment indeed.
Brokenbeat’s garden was breathtaking, for he and the missus have accomplished much in the three years they have owned this house. Note too his gardening position, as he digs plants for his siblings to take back to their respective gardens. The blue forget me nots, that have traveled with us for more than thirty years are growing well with blue blooms and a scattering of pink.
The group shot under the old apple tree shows in the front: Gardoctor, M.A., Chickenpoet, birthday girl, G.A., Semi, Brokenbeat (nearly hidden) and Mrs. Brokenbeat. In back: Mr. Chickenpoet, The Financier, LTB held by Mr. Semi.
The title of this post is about those thoughts that transport us when things are rough, or when things are smooth. My dentist will say “Go to your happy place”, when a particularly difficult bit of dentistry is about to begin. The vision of my family bursting from the back room and surrounding me with hugs and kisses is such a place, so easy to return to again and again it makes my heart nearly burst with happiness. Do you have a happy place too? I hope so and would love to hear about it.

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32 Responses to Your Happy Place

  1. Phillip (UK) says:

    What an amazing trip!
    Though why you prefer baseball to cricket is beyond me.

    Hi Phillip, thanks for your input. We would not even know how to begin to play cricket, but baseball is in the genetic pool. Both are highly satisfying pursuits, I am sure. πŸ™‚

  2. commonweeder says:

    We have many happy places here at The End of the Road. There is the Frog Pond where the little boys spent many hours catching newts. The kitchen where boys and girls have baked prize winning cookies, saumon en papillote, and stirred up stews and raspberry sauces. There is the Cottage Ornee across the lawn for quiet solitary happy space as well as riotous celebratory space for family and dear friends. There are couches by the fire for Reading Aloud to children, and with the grown ups, too. The Rose Walk is a happy place on early June mornings, or when filled with friends for the Annual Rose Viewing. We are both lucky to have so many happy places. Such space and glamor as the Biltmore estate is not necessary, just loving , caring family

    Hi Pat, what wonderful happy places you have to bring smiles all around. Family is the top of my happy list too. Thanks for sharing yours. πŸ™‚

  3. Janet says:

    Green with envy on season passes to the Biltmore. Lovely shots, and great family time!

    Hi Janet, thanks. The passes were a bit of a splurge, but we will go many times since we travel to Asheville often. We used to have them, then dropped that expense, and regretted it. Better to bite the bullet and pay once a year to have that luxury of going whenever we want to.

  4. Phillip says:

    Sounds like a great weekend! I love the Biltmore and if I lived close enough to it, I would have a season pass. The wisteria shot is stunning!

    Hi Phillip, thanks. This was a perfect weekend to visit, the tulips were spectacular and the azaleas were in full blown bloom, lots of color in the grounds.

  5. Pam/Digging says:

    Thank you for sharing your happy day with us, Frances. You are fortunate to be surrounded by so much love. Happy birthday to you, and I can’t wait to see what you capture with that birthday present from the Financier, who clearly knows how to treat his blogger-love right.

    Hi Pam, I appreciate your analysis of the gifting. πŸ™‚ I am beyond lucky to have such a wonderful family that loves being together and living in places where it is possible. The new camera offers much more than the old one, the most important for me is that added zoom. My goal is the hummingbird captures. The feeders are hung and the birds visit many times during the day. The stage is set.

  6. Dave says:

    You had a great weekend! Happy Birthday again! The Biltmore is a beautiful place. We need to go there soon.

    Hi Dave, thanks so much, and again for the birthday wishes. This last weekend had the tulips planted in the walled garden, the big showpiece of the grounds, at peak. There were many people in odd positions taking photos of the flowers, so fun!

  7. Catherine says:

    That seems like a fantastic way to spend your birthday weekend! Sounds like you have a family that loves you very much!
    I love all the pictures from the Biltmore!

    Hi Catherine, thanks. It was the best birthday ever.

  8. Victoria says:

    What a great day for you! Happy Birthday!

    Hi Victoria, thanks so much. I am very fortunate in so many ways.

  9. nancybond says:

    What a lovely weekend you had, Frances! How ever did I miss that it was your birthday?! A belated — but no less heartfelt — happy birthday to you, my friend. I’m glad you had such a wonderful time. Yes, I have many Happy Places, thank goodness, for there are days when I think I may need them all! πŸ˜‰

    Hi Nancy, thanks so much. We do all need our happy places, and anytime we can add to their number is a good thing. πŸ™‚

  10. gittan says:

    Such a happy day to remember! Thanks for charing with us. Having the hole family around at the same time – that’s our happy places. So we had last friday the 24th when the Carpenter had his birthday / gittan

    Hi dear Gittan, thanks. A very happy birthday to the Carpenter too. Family makes the happy places happy, it’s true! πŸ™‚

  11. tina says:

    Happy Birthday to you! My mother reminded me yours was coming up (she’s so good!) so I am glad I can wish it to you here. Looks like an awesome travelthon and weekend! I love Biltmore. The tulips are quite grand. I have plans to visit it next month. My fondest wish is to see all the azaleas and rhodies in full bloom. Hope so. Happy Gardening to you and the Fairegarden clan!

    Hi Tina, thanks so much to both you and your on the ball mom! The azaleas were spectacular while we were there, the rhodies not quite open yet. This crazy super warm weather might speed things up. I was not expecting them to be as far along, usually they are two weeks behind us. 90 degree days takes the garden along way too fast for the flowers to last. Hope it cools down soon, back to normal, for your trip. πŸ™‚

  12. Hope you had a happy birthday! 20x zoom? Wow, I’m dizzy thinking about it! Now, you said you visited Biltmore and Hop Ice Cream Cafe, and then showed quite a few photos of Biltmore, but what about the ice cream? I want details! πŸ™‚

    Hi Monica, thanks so much. The zoom is amazing. I hope to get some better bird and maybe butterfly shots with it. I’ll experiment to see what other fun things can be done with all the doodads on it. You noticed that there were no ice cream shots, I completely forgot in the fun with the whole family there eating their favorite flavors. I will say, the honey and cream, made with local honey was unbelievable! Mrs. Brokenbeat, maker of all the ice cream, said it has been very popular. The older boys went for Grasshopper, a mint chocolate chip. Daughters had birthday cake flavor and the little guy fell asleep in the car on the way over. Mr. Semi had Death By Chocolate, don’t know the rest. Hope that satisfies your curiosity! πŸ™‚

  13. Hello Frances

    You did indeed have a happy birthday.

    This new bit of camera kit:) Am I right in thinking we’re going to see even better shots?


    Hi Rob, thanks, yes it was the best one ever. As for better shots, it can be expected to produce much better bird shots with that zoom power. So far the old Canon is still the macro king, but I have only had the new camera one day. It took me six months to figure out the old one. I have already gotten the users manual online for the new one, so much easier to read with the camera in hand to fiddle with the settings, etc.

  14. Gail says:

    Frances, Your birthday was even better then I thought it would be! What a wonderful surprise they pulled off; no way would you have expected it. They are a clever group! The Financier is good! That may be the perfect camera for you to capture the Holiest of Holy Grail shots. Keep those feeders full. Love the new bench…did I miss where it will be placed in fairegarden? LTB is growing up…gone is the sweet baby face! He’s still adorable. Happy birthday one day later! Gail

    Hi Gail, thanks my dear, and yes, it was a total surprise, with Semi Chickenpoet figuring about doing it this year instead of next, knowing I would be looking for it then. The Financier is a couple of years older than me, and they did a big surprise thing for him at Semi’s house when his ending in the digit zero birthday came up. Kudos for the thinking ahead, clever indeed, and very sweet. If the holy grail cannot be had with this camera, it is out of reach for me. The hummers visit often, and today a husband and wife bluebird duo were in the birdbath together. I didn’t have the tripod setup, and was waving all over the place with the heavy camera, and still managed a decent shot. HA

  15. Brenda Kula says:

    Well, a Happy Birthday to you, Frances! I’d love to visit the Biltmore some day. Thanks to you I got to see their lovely tulips today. I guess my happy place is mostly when it’s just me and the pets out in the garden. I’m a solitary sort of person and the silence is just my favorite music.

    Hi Brenda, thanks so much. I do hope you get to visit the Biltmore, you would love it. Your happy place sounds wonderful to me too, sometimes, well lots of times, I need that solitary time in the garden. πŸ™‚

  16. Happy Birthday, Frances. Sounds like a great weekend.

    It really was, Carol, thanks for the good wishes.

  17. Frances — what a delightful family and outing! I have the sister camera (yours has the more powerful movie potential), Canon SX10 IS. You’ll love the 20x zoom! I switched out my strap to a PacSafe (since I take mine to seedy places where I have to watch for pickpockets) and got a neoprene glove for it so that I don’t have to carry a case when I’m wearing it around. Be sure you try the “sports” setting and you’ll think you’ve got the fastest motor drive around for action shots.

    Hi Cameron, thanks, and thanks too for the camera info. I need all the help I can get! It will be fun to fool around with the settings, the sports one sounds like a winner. Fast is good! πŸ™‚

  18. mothernaturesgarden says:

    Lots of happy faces in your happy place. Happy Birthday!
    Life is really good isn’t it?

    Hi Donna, thanks for all that. Life is great and happy faces make it so. πŸ™‚

  19. Happy Birthday! What a great weekend you had. Not only seeing the offspring, but visiting the amazing Biltmore. Fantastic!

    Hi MMD, thanks so much. We went to the Biltmore at a perfect time with those tulips at peak. So many people were all over the place taking photos of the flowers, you would have thought it was a photographer’s convention. I guess it was. πŸ™‚

  20. Dawn says:

    Happy Birthday, Frances. Looks like you were surrounded by lots of love and beauty. You certainly deserve all the happiness in the world.

    Thanks, Dawn, what a sweet and kind thing to say!

  21. Lola says:

    Happy Birthday, late. Sounds as though you had the perfect weekend. Surprises are nice sometimes.
    Love that Biltmore House. Been yrs since we were there.
    You have a very lovely group. I’m so glad for you that all were present.
    I was gonna say you didn’t walk out without that gorgeous bench. That is to die for. Where will it be placed?

    Hi Lola, thanks so much. That was the biggest surprise ever, they really nailed it and were so tickled to have done so, for I am very suspicious! HA The bench is under the arbor right now. I need to make a cushion for it, the metal is not that comfy. It looks great though. πŸ™‚

  22. teza says:

    What a wonderful weekend surprise! Family never cease to amaze at the perfect time. As for the gift from the Financier…. just when we thought the photo’s couldn’t possibly get any better….. I smell a coffee table book in the making!

    HA Teza, thanks, you are so sweet! The new camera needs some study, although I have taken several pictures with it already. It is the hummingbird shot that I really wanted it for.

  23. Rose says:

    Well, I was in a happy place, Frances, when I saw that field of tulips–simply breathtaking! But I think being able to celebrate your birthday with all your family tops that any time. I’m glad you had such a wonderful weekend.

    Oh Rose, what a nice thing to say, thanks! My family is first in my heart, and we all enjoy gardens and gardening, a wonderful love to share. πŸ™‚

  24. Racquel says:

    I’m glad your family bursting out to wish you b-day wishes has become a happy place for you Frances. What a nice way to remember your special day. Can’t wait to see the new bench in the garden. You are one lucky lady! πŸ™‚

    Hi Racquel, thanks. I am so very lucky, my arm gets pinched all the time to make sure it is not a dream! πŸ™‚

  25. Robin says:

    Happy Birthday, Frances! Congratulations on the new camera! The tulips at the Biltmore are magnificent! Love the picture of the mansion with the green grass and blue sky; looks like a post card!

    Hi Robin, thanks so much. I need lessons with the new camera! I can only hope to come within a fraction of your wonderful photos! That Biltmore is wonderful, you should have seen how many people were taking photos all over the place, like a convention of photographers. They were laying down, squatting, many had tripods. Cool.

  26. Jean says:

    Your birthday sounds like it was splendid. I’m also glad you got to indulge in some garden peeping. I see you captured a photo of the abutilon I recently bought, “Patrick’s Abutilon”. And the tulips were breathtaking. But most of all, what a beautiful, heartfelt post and a beautiful family you have!

    Hi Jean, thanks. It was the best birthday I ever had! Glad to know the name of the Abutilon too, it was a tree in that greenhouse and the blooms hung down over our heads. Gorgeous!

  27. ourfriendben says:

    That photo of your family all together brought tears to my eyes, Frances! A birthday to cherish for sure!!!

    Oh that is so sweet of you, OFB, thanks. I had tears when they all ran out and made a hug circle around me, it still is such a moving memory, one that will get me through the tough times for the rest of my life. That is why it is my happy place, I cannot imagine anything better. πŸ™‚

  28. Semi says:

    We are a sneaky lot! I can’t take credit for the pre-zero surprize that goes to CP. We had to change plans several times, but dad came through with the final plan! I am glad had a good day. We all love u and are thankful for everything u do for us! OMG those tulips!

    Dear Semi, you are the best, all of you! It was Brokenbeat? or someone told me it was your idea. CP makes more sense though. HA I never suspected a thing, you guys and Dad really pulled it off. My ESP must be failing! The Biltmore gardens were incredible.
    So much love,

  29. This has to be one of your most memorable birthdays ever. Happy belated birthday Frances. Nothing better than family. What a great gift of them all together in your honor. Your new bench looks great too. I can’t wait to see where you place it.

    Hi Lisa, thanks so much, this was the best birthday I have ever had. The memory of it will get me through many a dentist visit. That is the best present too, for us to be together and on such a happy occasion. The new bench is under the arbor at an angle at the end and looks pretty good. I will make a cushion for it.

  30. Lisa says:

    What a great day! Thank you for sharing the pictures of your happy place! Happy Birthday!

    Hi Lisa, thanks. If only there had been a photo of the group hug, but there was no one left out to take the photo! πŸ™‚

  31. linda says:

    What a wonderful way to spend your birthday weekend Frances, and what a beautiful, loving family you have.

    Hi Linda, thanks. I am so very fortunate and thankful for my family. πŸ™‚

  32. chickenpoet says:

    In a deep sinister tone: HA HA HA!!! Glad we got you, we were all worried we wouldn’t pull it off; it was a great group effort. I love you mom.

    Dear Chickenpoet, I love you too. Your sinister mind is the one that figured a way to trick me and it worked like a charm, a very nice charm that is. Semi told me the on again off again problems with the logistics, you guys are the best in the world. It was the most wonderful birthday I have ever had. What’s going to happen next year, I wonder? Nothing more would be necessary for the rest of my birthdays, I can just think of your smiles as you barged out of the back room, my happiest of happy places. πŸ™‚

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