Friday, March 27, 2015

An Easter Five on Friday

Easter is a little more than a week away, but we’ve just barely started our preparations! Here are the five things I’m thinking about as the holiday approaches;

1. Traditionally dyed Easter eggs. Latvians use onion skins and red cabbage to color their eggs, using natural ingredients before it was en vogue. If you would like to give au natural a try this year, my post Œufs blancs covers the onion skin method and Natural Easter eggs instructs on the red cabbage method. Either we’ve eaten fewer onions this previous year or I’ve been slacking on saving the skins, as my bag was far too empty for the deep brown color I strive to get. Yesterday was the day I rummaged through all the onions in the produce department earning strange looks from other customers and the cashier, but after I buy white eggs we’ll be all set to color our eggs next week.

2. Last year I couldn’t procure the necessary farmer’s cheese to make my grandmother’s paska (we were in Ohio and we must have called thirty stores in our search!), and so this year I’ll be driving to Spartanburg’s European Market to pick up the stuff; harder to find than morels in these here parts.

3. Our local Bi-Lo supermarket had pussy willow branches for sale on my last shopping trip, saving me from a mad last-minute search across the Upstate to be prepared this Sunday. I fully intend to be the first one up, earning the privilege to give all the boys a good apaļš kā pūpols, vesels kā rutks wake-up call! (Read my post Pūpolsvētdiena or Palm Sunday here if you're wondering what I'm talking about.)

4. The giant Easter bunny at the company Easter party doesn’t get any more normal-looking as the years go by; every year I think how different this human-size rabbit is from the more rabbit-sized one I imagined hiding all the eggs of my childhood. Eventually won over with the promise of securing bubble wands, the boys still had their doubts; good thing they were too busy admiring one another’s haul from the morning’s egg hunt to give it too much thought.

5. Easter egg baskets. Three favorite things to find in yours on Easter morning?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is home to University of North Carolina, forming the “Research Triangle” along with Durham (Duke University) and Raleigh (North Carolina State). Although we’ve been in/around Chapel Hill a few times while living in Greenville, I had never seen the campus. We explored the North Carolina Botanical Gardens one morning a couple weeks ago (operated by the University of North Carolina), and when Roberts was liberated from his work obligations we picked him up and headed to downtown Chapel Hill, a town founded specifically to serve the University.

Coincidentally we picked up a NC jersey at a consignment sale last month

Kenan Memorial Stadium is home to the North Carolina Tar Heels. There has been an unwritten rule since the Stadium opened in 1927; the stadium can never be taller than the surrounding pine trees. With a current capacity of 63,000, the largest number to ever fill the stadium for a game was (before the 2011 expansion) a standing-room-only crowd of 62,000, when the Tar Heels hosted the Florida State Seminoles in 1997.

Specifically chose this picture because you can't see Mikus isn't wearing pants

Adjacent to the stadium is the 172 foot tall bell tower. Dedicated to John Motley Morehead (class of 1891) and Rufus Lenoir Patterson II who funded the bell tower’s construction, the tower was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1931. Up in the belfry are fourteen mechanized bells, which replaced the carillon of twelve manually operated ones some time ago. Traditionally a few days before commencement, seniors get the chance to climb the tower, but on our visit the door was securely locked and we could only imagine the view of campus afforded from the top. Dr. William C. Coker, the first Professor of Botany at the University, designed the hedge and lawn surrounding the tower, with peeks of the stadium down the southeast hedge row.

Continuing north we came to Professor Coker’s legacy, the 5.3 acre Coker Arboretum. The boggy pasture was originally developed as an outdoor classroom for the study of trees, shrubs and vines native to the State, until the 1920’s and following decades when Dr. Coker added many East Asian trees and shrubs. Today the collection ranges from flowering trees and shrubs to bulb and perennial displays, featuring a 300 foot native vine arbor and a Metasequoia (dawn redwood).

After an ice cream stop for the boys we finished our UNC tour at Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery. The pub opened in 1994 and was one of the first microbreweries in the state, and these days is possibly one of the best places to be after a UNC win due to the view of Franklin Street. The infamous “bonfire” celebrations occur when students and fans spill into the street from the bars, restaurants and dorms along Franklin, resulting in occurrences such as after a 1982 game when the street was literally painted blue. In 2009 after winning the men's NCAA championship over 45,000 people crowded Franklin Street.

Top: view from Top of the Hill, bottom: a Franklin Street bonfire (source here)

All three Research Triangle teams are in the tournament this year, and all have fared well so far. Tomorrow UNC (seeded 4th) will face off against  Wisconsin, while Duke (1st seed) plays Utah and NC State (8th seed) upset Villanova for a game against Louisville on Friday. Maybe we’ll see them meet up in the semifinals or finals!

Top of the Hill mascot wearing #23

* A small part of me is cheering on University of North Carolina, just because that’s where my childhood home-town hero played three seasons of basketball. A couple years after his Tar Heels won the national championship in 1982, Michael Jordan joined the Chicago Bulls.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pelham Mill ruins on the Enoree

Happenstance brought us to another historic site in Greenville, this one under the radar of the majority of locals, even those living nearby. With old mill ruins, river shoals and a few acres of bottomland forest, in my opinion Pelham Mill Park is one of the coolest parks in Greenville County.

Home to the first textile mill in Greenville County outside of city limits, there are scenic and historic elements that liken it to Falls Park downtown. The Upstate was largely shaped by the textile industry, and just as Falls Park contains the ruins of a mill, Pelham Mill Park contains the remnants of a cotton mill. The evidence of a complex series of stone and brick foundations spanning the floodplain, shoals and terrace overlooking the Enoree River are accessible to visitors; though, be warned - with steep, muddy footpaths, tall grass and an unfortunate abundance of trash, extreme caution should be exercised when exploring the site.

The Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission donated the thirteen acres to Greenville County in 1988. Seven acres have been added through a partnership with Western Carolina Regional Sewer Authority, and the master plan for the park includes eventual interpretive signage, picnic sites and a walking bridge spanning the river that would provide access to trails along the Enoree River. One aspect of the plan which has been completed is the dog park, and a second that is currently in the works is restoration of the former Pelham Mill Post Office.

In 2008 (source here) and now 

The building was built in 1870 as Pelham Mill’s office until the textile plant closed in 1930. It became a post office until it was closed in 1996, and when Highway 14 was widened in 2002 it was moved to its present location. Greenville Rec is restoring the historic structure for use as a community building with help from Western Carolina Regional Sewer Authority and Greenville County.

source: here

Other features of the park include a paved path leading to the historical 19th century stonework dam. An overlook provides a view of the dam, architectural remains of the mill and shoals on the Enoree River. Crumbling walls, foundations and depressions give evidence to what used to stand on the site: two steam smokestacks, underground pipes, drains, turbines, nine brick pilings, the mill’s main powerhouse and steam generator, and finally the large mortared stone dam with six sluice gates spanning the Enoree River. The Mill burned down in 1943 (except for the mill office), as the only fire trucks available had to come all the way from Greenville and Greer.

Pelham Mill is recognized by the Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission as one of 11 historic sites in the County.

On a related note, the Enoree river served another important purpose a few hundred years earlier. In 1766 NC/SC negotiated a boundary between ‘Indian land’ and their new settlement with the Cherokee. This line extended from Honea Path across the Reedy River all the way to Virginia, but today there is nothing to remind us of this aspect of southern history except a few historic markers. If you do stop at the marker, make sure to find the nearby geocache

Friday, March 20, 2015

Celebrating the first day of spring with a festival of color

Spring is here! Although today is officially the spring equinox, spring temperatures have been with us now for a few weeks. We’ve been spending as much time as possible enjoying the sunshine and warm weather before it gets hot, although some afternoons it seems like we once again went straight from winter to summer in terms of temperatures. Nonetheless, we’re excited about the new seedlings growing in the garden and all the beautiful blooming trees and shrubs, and a few weeks ago joined our friends for a Holi celebration.

Holi is also known as the festival of colors or the festival of love. This ancient Hindu religious festival has become popular across the world due to the festival’s vibrant colors and playful nature. As with many spring holidays, the festival signifies not only the end of winter with the arrival of spring, but also the victory of good over evil.

Traditionally Holi starts with a Holika bonfire on the night before where participants gather together to sing and dance. The next morning the color festival starts; participants carrying color powder, water guns and water balloons filled with colored water roam the streets throwing color at people. Groups carry drums and musical instruments from place to place, singing and dancing. In addition to color throwing, people will share conversation and Holi delicacies, and the holiday stretches into the evening when people will dress up and visit friends and family.

Our Holi celebration took place in Conestee Park with color powder we had ordered online. I had tried an online recipe utilizing flour and food coloring, but in the end it was worth the money to order a set, as there were a dozen bags of different colors with none of the mess making it at home entailed. I was surprised at how easily the powder washed out of all the clothes, but be warned – showers beat baths, and the water running down the drain can be quite shocking, especially if you were throwing a lot of red powder! 

Wishing you a happy Holi and a wonderful spring! 

* In parts of the world today there will be a solar eclipse and a supermoon in addition to the spring equinox! The Faroe Islands and Svalbard (Norway) will see a total solar eclipse, and Europe, northern and eastern Asia and northern and western Africa will see the partial eclipse. A Supermoon refers to the full or new moon on its closest fly-by of Earth, making it look bigger than it normally does.

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The green in Greenville

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Greenville’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has come a long way in two years. We last attended in 2013, when daylight savings time threw the start time off by an hour making the wait longer than the parade. This year we were not completely sure when the parade was set to start and arrived a bit early on the morning of Sunday the 8th. The boys headed into Fluor Field to check out the scene while I staked out a spot, and before we knew it the parade was on!

This year the parade route was three times as long as on our last visit, starting at 1:30 at the intersection of Coffee & Main Street. We caught them at the very end of the parade route, at Fluor Field. Upon finishing, the bagpipers and flags made a circuit of the green.

A larger to-do also meant larger crowds. It was nearly impossible to navigate the mass of people inside the stadium with the stroller, and forget the children’s activities – the lines were hours long. Although some of the Irish fare sounded appetizing, the more popular items quickly sold out and so we settled for some cotton candy.

It’s great to see Greenville get into the spirit. On this day I hope you enjoy your green eggs and ham, your green beer or your green Chicago river, and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

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