find a rink near you and choose the correct skates

Ice skating is a fun way to spend an afternoon. In some cities, you can skate all year round and in others, rinks pop up for the winter holidays. One can also skate outside on a frozen pond but this takes a seasoned pro to know when the ice is thick enough to be safe. I have skated on a frozen pond and a frozen reservoir in a tucked away cove, but the ice has always been tested with a drill to measure the exact depth of the ice. Even with the ice depth tested, each person always skates with an ice hockey stick as a precaution – just in case the ice were to crack.

choosing your skates the first time

If you are a beginning skater or have a new skater with you, wearing figure skates until you have the basics down is a good idea. Figure skates have a long, flat blade that is pointed on the back with a toe pick on the front. Ice hockey skates have a rounded blade that is curved on both ends. I have often seen ice hockey skates being given to a new skater and have watched them fall backward over and over because of the rounded blades. If you have a new skater start with figure skates.

One other tip – a great way to start out as a new skater on the ice is to march – yes march! If you are taking steps up and down then you aren’t sliding out of control. You transition from marching steps to a gentle glide. From there, the gliding becomes skating.

A quick search on the term – “find an ice skating rink near me” – should locate a fun place to skate. Pack your warm gear and head out for a day of ice skating.


Architectural details, flowers, and decorative elements

While you are moving through the world, pause to look at the small details that surround you.  Whether you are on a vacation or a business trip, or simply walking around the place where you live, slow down and see all that you can see.



A trip to the Orchid Garden in Singapore

Singapore is absolutely beautiful. I have been three times but I haven’t really even seen this amazing island country in Southeast Asia. Each time, I have been on a business trip with little time to explore the island. On my last trip to Singapore, I made sure to give myself an hour and to visit one small wonder in Singapore. It was the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The Gardens were amazing. To see orchids thriving and arranged in so many different ways was remarkable. To highlight how wonderful it is, the Botanic Gardens was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. The Gardens is the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. There are so many amazing gardens around the world, so this is quite a feat.

Look for a botanical garden in a city you are visiting and spend time enjoying the flowers and designs, you won’t be disappointed. Here a few to consider that I have visited:

Hampstead Heath, London, U.K

Jardin des Plantes, Paris, France

Singapore Botanic Garden, Singapore

United States Botanic Garden, Washington DC, U.S.

VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, British Columbia

Trail hiking and fishing in Virginia

One of the great things about the Charlottesville, Virginia area is the variety of outdoor activities that are available. We have mountains to hike, rivers to raft and beautiful state and local parks to explore. Walnut Creek Park is one of the many gems in the countryside that you should definitely visit. Walnut Creek is in Albemarle County, just a short 15-minute drive south of Charlottesville. You can rent a canoe, play frisbee golf on a large course or swim in the lake during the warm months of the year. There are miles of mountain biking trails for riding enthusiasts. The bike trails are also great for walking, but you do you need to pay attention and be ready to step aside when bikers are coming.

I have recently been spending quite a bit of time at Walnut Creek Park. The park is a great place to take a dog for an on-leash walk. You can walk through the woods on different trails that are tagged based on their difficulty. You can also walk on a lovely trail that winds its way around the end of the lake.

If you are a fisherman, you need to bring your rod and reel out to Walnut Creek Park. I have seen folks fishing from the sides of the lake, as well as from boats that they have launched themselves. You could also fish from one of the many canoes that are available for rent.

All in all, Walnut Creek Park is a great place to spend an hour or an entire day.

Fog on the water at Walnut Creek Park, Charlottesville, VA


It’s cold down there

I hadn’t visited a cave since I was really little and loved a recent trip to Luray Caverns in central Virginia. My breath was truly taken away by Mirror Lake in the caverns, where a few inches of water reflect the formations above it with such clarity that the lake appears to have no bottom. It is amazing!

We went a nice warm day, but I wished I had known to bring sweaters for the kids. I learned that caves stay consistently chilly since the earth insulates them. I had a wrap with me, but 10 minutes into the tour it was on my daughter and I was cold for the rest of the time.

I also learned that there is a serious problem is affecting and killing bats in caves in the eastern portion of the United States. I saw a request that visitors to caves should not wear the same clothes if they are planning to visit two different caves in one day. This is a small way to help keep bats healthy.

With caves and caverns in states across the country, it is easy to find one near you and take a trip down into a beautiful new, if not chilly, world.


Mirror Lake

Sharks’ teeth come in all shapes and sizes

I learned something new at the beach.  I learned how to easily find sharks’ teeth.

I have to confess that the first tooth I found literally washed up to my feet as I sat watching the kids play in the ocean. From that one tooth, a bit of an obsession formed.  I looked for small black teeth on the beach from then on.

Why do we find sharks’ teeth on the beach: 

Sharks continually shed their teeth, and some shark species can shed approximately 35,000 teeth in a lifetime. In order for these teeth to fossilize, they must sink the seafloor and be quickly covered by sediment. Rapid burial is important for fossilization for a number of reasons. First, the sediment acts to protect the teeth from the weathering, abrasion, and scavenging that could occur if they were exposed to open water and currents. Secondly, burial also limits exposure to oxygen and bacteria which are responsible for decay. The process of fossilization is a slow one that usually takes thousands of years. Depending on which minerals are present teeth can be found in a wide variety of different colors, ranging from blue/grey to black to orange/red to white to green. Fossilized shark teeth usually have a black root with a grayish crown.  Fossilized shark teeth can often be found in or near river bed banks, sand pits, and beaches. If the tooth was found in a creek 50 miles from the nearest ocean, it is safe to assume that the tooth is a fossil. When you find a shark tooth at the beach, you may need to look at its color to figure out its age.

How to find sharks teeth: 

Walking along the ocean’s water line, as the waves are rolling in and out, I look for a little black “ T ” or “ Y ”among the small broken shells.  The black fossilized teeth really do stand out against the yellowish sand and once you find your first tooth, it’s easier to know just what you are looking for. I did realize after a while, that I couldn’t find any teeth on days when the shells that were rolling in were large. I only found teeth when small broken shells were coming in and out with the tide. I think this has to do with the weight of the teeth, but that’s just my guess.

So next time you’re at the beach or even near a river, keep an eye out for sharks teeth. Happy hunting!

You can find big and small sharks teeth at the beech.


Care for the land today for tomorrow.

April 22nd marks Earth Day in the US. This day is about raising awareness of environmental issues and how we can each make changes – both big and small – that will make our world a better place. There are celebrations in communities around the country.

With Earth Day around the corner, I’m still not sure what we will be doing. Maybe we will stay close to home and do something that is simple but has an impact, like putting up bluebird boxes or maybe the whole family will eat meals only made with only locally grown produce from our farmers’ market here in Charlottesville.

You have time to find an event near you or to create your own way to honor Earth Day.