The Dracaena, derived from the Greek word for female dragon, and also known as the “spirit of the dragon” tree, has brought me comfort through dark times. She reminds us that chaos is necessary in bringing about positive change quickly. This tree supports us during conflict, and encourages us to turn inward to find strength and solutions. She is the perfect Christmas tree for 2020!
I started Collecting Firsts years ago, when I was weary of the same house, job, drive to work, etc., and I decided if life was going to be more varied and vibrant, it was up to me to take a more creative and proactive approach. It never occurred to me that my ‘first’ plague was in the future, or the first time watching my youngest daughter struggle with Covid 19.
On a brighter note, as she began to slowly recuperate, inspite of on going after effects, she asked me if I’d like to participate in the virtual Baltimore 26.2 mile crabby walk. At 70, I knew it would be a challenge as it was my first, but wanted to support her, so I agreed.
On Saturday, October 10, we completed our required miles and yesterday our t-shirts and medals arrived so we opened them together on a Zoom call!
We’re planning to do the turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day and run a marathon in the spring. Setting goals together has helped to make this bittersweet year a little more bearable. Even during a pandemic, there are ways to collect firsts. I hope you are all setting goals and making wonderful memories.
From May 18, 2014
On the morning of the race, I felt well prepared. I had purchased my hat for the Preakness weeks before the race at the Downton Abbey exhibit at Winterthur in Delaware. I waited until the day of the race to purchase the flowers to decorate it, hoping for them to be as fresh as possible. The Black-Eyed Susan is the state flower of Maryland, as well as the official flower of the Preakness, so I was certain that local florists and farmer's markets would be abundant with fresh blossoms to adorn my hat for the day's race,. There wasn't a Black-Eyed Susan to be found. Well, at least not of the floral variety.
There weren't even any silks available. I purchased a garland of daisies and hurried home to paint the centers with acrylics, thankful that it was a quick drying paint. Next year I'll be prepared, and may even try to force some blossoms for the event.
Even California Chrome, the winning horse, was deprived of the thrill of wearing an authentic garland of the official flower. Instead his 10 foot long, 4,200 bloom blanket was made of golden yellow chrysanthemums with black in the center.
Numerous people, including a local florist, told me as recently as the day of this year's race, May 17, 2014, "the flowers used for the race and the blanket that covers the winning horse are daisies with the centers painted with black lacquer or shoe polish." However, more reliable sources state they haven't used that technique for over fifteen years.
Susan Reimer, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, noted that the archives of the Sun first mentioned the Black Eyed Susan taking the place of the rose blanket for the Maryland Preakness race in the late 1930s. "In 1939 the Sun described what it said was a blanket of black-eyed Susans gracing the neck of Preakness winner Challedon. Racing writer Jesse Linthicum said the change gave the race 'a real Maryland flavor'."
As far as the origin of the daisies with the centers painted black, Reimer reveals the beginning and the end of the mystery. The Black-Eyed Susan, a wild flower too delicate to hold up to the technique of being woven into a blanket and remaining fresh and hardy for a couple of days, doesn't even bloom until late June. "It was Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Price Day, writing in The Sun in 1946, who revealed that florist and devoted horse lover George Cook had been painting the center of yellow daisies with shoe black for years. He'd made every blanket from 1928 to 1953, and he died just days before the 1954 race."
The choice of the Black-Eyed Susan is in honor of it's position as the official flower. The state legislature of Maryland officially endorsed the Black Eyed Susan as the Maryland state flower in 1918. There are thirteen petals, as there were thirteen original colonies which included Maryland, and the black and yellow beautifully represent the colors in the Maryland flag. Admittedly, other than its untimely debut and fragile nature, it is a worthy choice for the official Preakness flower!
Mycenea brought me a gorgeous bouquet of roses!
"Orange roses - a literal mixture of yellow and red, orange roses were seen as a bridge between friendship symbolized by yellow roses and love represented by red roses. They can be an expression of fascination, or a gift to say 'I'm proud of you." Aw! Hope so!
Mycenea, Nancy and I met for dinner at Rockbass and shared appetizers and desserts as well as lively conversation. The food and view were divine. It's one of my favorite restaurants in Harrisburg.
The Millennium Music Conference featured almost 400 artists and bands through the Harrisburg area. Mycenea's band, Pleiades, with Ross Kennedy and Chuck Kembring, was featured at 10:00 p.m. at the Coliseum on my birthday! A once in a lifetime gift and a memories I cherish!
Our trip was overflowing with fun that ended much too soon! Thank you to Nancy for planning weeks ahead to ensure that my birthday would be filled with memorable moments!
The festivities continues when I returned home! Mycala took me to the Melting Pot for a full course fondue experience! We had cheddar cheese fondue with veggies, breads and applies followed by the house garden salad. Next came surf and turf with a variety of vegetables and six sauces. The meal ended with Pure Chocolate fondue with cookies, cakes, marshmallows, strawberries, pineapple and bananas. Bliss!
This morning I journaled on my new couch, enjoying my roses! One of the best parts about going away is coming home!
Last evening Mayor Catherine Pugh welcomed the Sweet Silver Bells at City Hall to be part of Baltimore's tree lighting celebration. But as you can see in the news broadcast below, the evening was about much more than lighting a Christmas tree.
Recently we attend the phenomenal light show at Longwood Gardens. We arrived early and set up our chairs in the front row, very close to the center, so this display is very similar to the one was viewed. i was much too captivated with the experience to record the show so was delighted that this 'sneak peak' was so similar. The background music for the evening we attended was jazz, and if you follow my blog, you'll know I was delighted! This will give you an idea of the spectacular event, and hopefully it will inspire you to check the Longwood Garden site to check their schedule, purchase tickets and attend!
While we were at Longwood Gardens, I heard it referred to as "America's Versailles". I disagree. The variety of plants, artistry of presentation, reverence and dedication to nature and seasonal displays make Longwood far superior. The Versailles gardens were such a disappointment, but isn't it delightful to know we can save the airfare to France and have a much more delightful experience here? For those who are more interested in the history, architecture and furnishings at Versailles, it's worth the trip, but if you are going for the gardens, you may want to reconsider and head to Kennett Square, PA.
We passed this sleepy tree on the way in, already yawning by late afternoon. He probably didn't stay awake for the light show, but he's undoubtedly seen it many times!
We had a leisurely dinner at 1906 while we waited for dusk. Everything there is a step above what is expected. This is their shrimp appetizer - jumbo shrimp served on a square of tomato aspic with sorrel and touch of horseradish. Not only delicious but a work of art!
Although I've been to Longwood Gardens many times over the years and experienced each of the five seasons - spring, summer, fall, holiday and winter - at least once, this was my first after dark experience light display. I'm adding it to my collecting firsts!
Visiting the Lexington Market has been on my wish list since I moved to Baltimore and I finally made it! What a delightful experience! The sounds of the steel drum band added rhythm and beat as moved from stand to stand. There were oranges, lemons, limes, grapes and strawberries in vibrant jewel tones.fish and shell fish in iridescent white, silver and pinks. Scrumptious cupcakes, pineapple upside down cake, cinnamon rolls, and breads of every size and shape, color and texture. Something for everyone and the prices were fantastic! We would have stayed longer but we had too much to carry!
Today's treasure is a Facebook post from friend and author Floyd Stokes -
TBT - seconds after Olivia was born July 2008. I decided to post this because earlier this week, someone asked me, “When should I start reading to my baby?” We should start reading to children when they are in the womb. If we missed that, we can always start today. Reading and talking with our new born is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. And it’s so much fun!
Floyd's comment from Facebook -
MIkell, this was taken one day before our release party. It was a crazy good time in my life. You did an amazing job capturing my vision for the book. We are making a difference. I read it yesterday at a summer camp to children in Hburg and they are still in awe of the illustrations.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!