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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another Christmas

It seems these Christmas entries are getting closer and closer together. Wasn't it just a few months ago I re-posted a picture of the lights on the trees? Here in the south, except for the recent freak storm, they don't usually get much snow. Temp's in the 50's lured me out into the winter sunshine for my first area bike ride today. Great to be enjoying fresh air and outdoor activities.

I just want to wish any readers a very Blessed Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year. Thanks for your continued interest.

Dunbar Cave

After spending almost two weeks unpacking and getting organized, I contacted a local hiking group and joined them for a short jaunt through the woods near Dunbar Cave. I liked the area so much, I returned the next day- with a camera. This tree was growing on rocks, against a rock wall. "Between a rock and a hard place."




There's quite a history of this geological site. In the 1930's, big bands and musicians from the Gran' Ole' Opry used to perform on the stone steps, and dances were held on the wide open area which was actually built above the cave entrance. There is also a balcony overlooking the dance floor, where ladies reportedly had tea.












Over 8 miles of mapped passageways extend under the wooded cover. Guided tours are not available during the winter months so the bat population can hibernate undisturbed. I took this shot of the cave entrance through the barred gates. A vacant concession stand appeared to be walled with sections of stalactites and/or stalagmites, possibly rescued after vandals destroyed some of the property. On closer inspection, I noticed fossil conglomerates (with embedded sea sponges) and fossilized groups of coral-like creatures.












This red and white rock really caught my eye after I had the pictures made up. Click on it for a larger view. If anyone ever says, "You can't get blood from a stone," show them this sample. Unusual, to say the least.








At the upper level near the bandstand is an alcove. These steps emerged from a rock wall, and descended into a small grotto filled with water. "Stairway to Nowhere".















And for my next adventure...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Moving Experience

Just over two weeks ago, I drove a loaded "22-foot" (that's just the back part!) diesel moving van over 300 miles across state to my new location. It's a long story, filled with all the sordid details we normally omit when someone asks, "So, how ARE you?"

After some time on the main highway, I no longer felt the size of the truck, I just focused on keeping the windshield centered in the lane. It was kind of like I imagine a video game might be. Almost an automatic action.

Until we pulled off the highway for supper. In the dark and drizzle. And I tried to back the truck into a parking space at an angle. And didn't see the cute yellow VW bug that had been situated at the very back of the parking lot to keep from being hit. Crunch. I felt just awful about knocking out it's lights. When I read "Fellowship of Police" on the license plate, I thought to myself, "Sister, if you're gonna' mess up, do it good!"

Two points of consolation later: a friend reminded me that professional truck drivers spend many training hours learning to back up their rigs, and, two unrelated people mentioned that with the size (and engine noise level) of the truck I was driving, I could have run over the little car without even knowing it.

Fortunately I had signed up for maximum insurance coverage before the adventure. Phew! And now I know for certain sure, I'm not interested in being a truck driver for hire.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

As Autumn Goes...





Autumn has come boldly now;

her icy cold rains warn of snow.

Brillina colors, flame-inspired,

paint forest edges near barbed wire.

Driven flocks of geese press on

toward southern goals so far beyond

with thrusting wings and echoed cries.

The air churns with their loud goodbyes!

1/17/2002









Tall tree trunks dark with autumn rain

stand stark against orange leaves of flame.

The woods appearing thin and bare

will soon a fluffy snow-coat wear.

10/25/2001


Bright autumn trees have turned to brown

Like loose confetti leaves drift down

and frosted country fields lie bare.

A fragile crispness bites the air.

The paler sun breaks through the haze.

These are the last of autumn days.

10/27/2006

Monday, October 26, 2009

zoom zoom


My b-i-l decided that some of the women in this household should learn to ride the scooter today, so we focused on the sequence: brake on, key on, push start button, lift off kickstand, throttle, brake... Yikes! I actually went zipping up this little dead-end road on that bright red two-wheeler and turned around without tipping over.
Deja vu : twenty-five-and-a-half years ago I found myself on a scooter in Bermuda, only the outcome was not so pretty. As I remember it, I was given no orientation. Following the hot shot ahead of me, I rounded a curve too fast and in a flash of uncoordination-probably grabbed the throttle instead of the brakes; smashed into some coral cliffs, and received not only serious scrapes on my knees but also grill marks from the exhaust burned into my legs.
Well, maybe I can try again only safer this time, in order to have transportation in case of emergency or necessity. To take inspiration from a post carder acquaintance in Minnesota, I should wear a long bright-colored feather boa while riding. Or something. "Hey world, look at me!" Sound effects: very large mosquito. Scooter 101 for Beginners: A-O-K!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A closer look

Outside my cellar window the Doodlebugs dwell, rounding out their pits, traps for the unwitting ant scurrying by... Yes, there actually are Doodlebugs, a.k.a. Ant Lions, and I've enjoyed watching their antics as they burrow and fling sand out of their carefully configured snares. Someday those ungainly creatures will sprout wings and fly away.

Today ladybugs swarmed through the warm sunny air and infiltrated the house. Their flight is so different from that of a bee, wasp or fly. It's kind of a loose weaving or wandering pattern. I didn't realize how many had made their way past door and window until I turned on a lamp against the encroaching darkness, only to find about twenty of them on the ceiling. "Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home..."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sky Spectacular

When I was much, much younger, while we were visiting relatives, my cousins and I lay on our backs on the large open lawn in the dark, watching for the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). The phenomenon gracing that late summer sky impressed me enough to be fresh in my mind over forty years later.

Glimmering green bands radiated from a central point above and shifted round and round. It seemed as if we were under an inverted bowl of shimmering fluorescent stripes. I can not describe it adequately, but I am so glad I didn't miss that experience. I wonder if they remember...

Tonight we have opportunity to witness a light show, as multitudinous bits of debris from Halley's Comet interact with Earth's atmosphere. The Orionid display is supposed to be most intense between 1 a.m. (Wednesday morning actually) and 6 a.m. I'm not so sure I could stay up that late or even wake up during the heaviest fall-out band, but I am reminded of another night when there was activity in the Leonid Comet trail. This is what I wrote:

Leonid Interlude
Comet trails across the sky:
fluorescent streak-marks way up high.
First one, then two, and then- a score.
Another one... 1-2-3-4!
Try not to blink for fear I'll miss
a greater show of sparks than this.
Head tilted back, mouth open wide,
I'm drinking in this thrilling sight
and watch for shooting stars until
cold dawn comes creeping o'er the hill.
Black velvet curtain slowly fades
as morn' with bleaching light invades.
My cheeks are rosy, legs like lead,
so I retreat to warmth and bed.
11/19/2001

Monday, October 19, 2009

today

This is the last day in my life when my age, my height and my birth year will all be the same. So much for that coincidence.

Looking back, looking forward

I am at a crossroads in my life, long story, maybe for another time. This place and time is a reprieve for me, a retreat not of my choosing. I finally realized that hiking in the woods and mountains is not only a stress-reliever, it is a restoration of my soul. I am so fortunate to be able to be here, near the mountains, near the rivers, near the Appalachian Trail along which I lived for almost four months twenty-nine years ago. As I retrace some of my steps, I ponder how life is different, I am different, even the Trail is different.

One of my "original" analogies is that life is like a room with layers of wallpaper. Experiences and years are laid over what went before, and we can't or don't usually peel back the layers to see what is underneath.

Having so many memories stirring makes me sympathetic to the stereotypical "old-timers" whose main delight is in rehearsing the past. There's a saying "You can't plow a straight furrow looking behind you" but what if the past is better than the present, and the future is so obscure we can not even imagine how it will play out?

This pondering would normally lead into sharing another poem, something about no blemish on tomorrow waiting unseen beyond the corner.(and trusting).. but most of my poetry turns around and points its finger right at me. That might explain why I'm not in the mood right now.

Just some mental meandering which I will probably delete next time I'm back here...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nip & Tuck

Today I joined some members of the MAHC doing maintenance on part of the Iron Mountain Trail which used to be AT (which I hiked in 1980). It was about 34 degrees with mist, snow, sleet, and ice shards falling on us but we all stayed pretty dry. I helped nip and trim rhododendron branches which were encroaching on the trail, and a troublesome vine-type plant called green briar. It travels underground only to resurface elsewhere and can trip up an unsuspecting sojourner.

A confetti-like assortment of yellows and reds carpeted the ground under the few sugar maple trees. Beautiful! Two purple gentians bloomed and the ferns were still green. The woods are so lovely in autumn. I enjoyed the day and hope to participate in more group outings like biking and hiking, as well as future trail maintenance on other mountains. I'm very tired, but it's a good kind of tired. Now for a cuppa' hot chocolate- mmmmmmm!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Inspired by The Little Things




Having just been refreshed and amazed by a visit to Bird's Eye View blog, I remembered a poem I wrote while propping my feet on a cabin railing, looking out over an Adirondack lake:

Every fine detail of the pine's needle,
every delicate vein in a bug's wing,
each hollow fiber of a bird's feather,
each sparkling drop of water in the sun-lit lake
all were ordained when God spoke the Word.
Creation fleshed out His Desire
and we are here, by no power of our own
to worship, praise, adore and return unto Him
just a small portion of the love
which He so freely gave to us.
8/30/91

Hanging On/Letting Go

"Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go." Herman Hesse.........................................................


All my life I have had to let go. Things have been lost or taken away. People have drifted in and out of my life. Relationships have broken. I've wanted something, someone to hang on to. Some sense of stability, continuity, security, connectedness. But maybe I hang on too tightly, try too hard, expect too much. Look in the wrong places. This year I'm experimenting with letting go, and hoping the lessons learned will strengthen me instead of destroying me. Maybe letting go requires the trust and hope that somewhere, sometime, something better will come along; as the saying goes 'When the Lord shuts a door, He opens a window.' Time will tell...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Buck Stops Here...

He came to the door this afternoon, soaked with rain. The young man in a camouflage suit said he had shot a large buck with his bow two hours previous and had been tracking it, and needed permission to search here. An hour later he found the arrow near the driveway, minus the point. Three hours later he and his buddy gave up the search and drove off in their pickup trucks empty-handed. Somewhere in the night- on the hill behind, in the brush by the creek bed, or on the mountain top, there is a wounded animal suffering and perhaps dying with no chance of recovery. Struggling for breath. Shuddering with pain. Next year it might be the little fawn we have watched grow up this summer. Sure, I eat meat. I just don't like the thought of animals being hurt for sport. But who asked me???

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And on and on I go...











Today, the 13th, was my 12th day hike on Roan Mountain in NC. White froth whipped up in the valleys raced over the balds as I walked. The forests below are glowing with reds and yellows, burnished golds. Such a lovely patchwork of color.


Where clouds are born
and goats have fed
the cheerful bluet
blossoms still.
That's where I'll be-
out on the Trail
traversing each
dear mountain hill.

Blueberries still cling to the bushes, which are now mounds of fushia and burgundy. I've never lived anywhere where I could pick blueberries in October! What a treat...






I found evidence of bear along the trail Sunday, also heard and saw six ravens with their various calls, gliding, soaring, diving on the updrafts. In a muddy place what looked like wild boar tracks were sunken deep, as I had seen on the hill behind the house last week.


Mountain Balds
shrouded in mist:
dragons' breath
rising from some
primordial lair;
exhale of dinosaurs;
ancient snows' droplets
cling to grass and branch.
ethereal other-world
guarding secrets
yet to be revealed.

What a lovely autumn we are having and I am blessed to be here at this time.

Colors fading
leaves swirling
bold wind
takes them
where it will
leaving bare hope
of tender sprouts
after the cold
of winter.
and one more inspired by that magical place:

Whispers of memories
from yesteryears
echo off rocks,
wrap like wraiths
around tree-shadows-
curling, clinging,
shifting substance-
here and then gone.
Nothing to hang on to.
Why look back?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Herding Goats

I was intrigued to learn about the grassy bald restoration project and volunteered to help herd the goats off the mountain for the winter. Saturday's move was only a few hundred feet to a new, lower paddock. Clouds and mist gave way to a cold, sideways pelting rain which soaked me to the bone. The next Wednesday about fifty helpers showed up, again in the mist, to escort the goats down to a trailer at the road crossing. At least that's how I thought it would work. Actually, the goats ran the whole way following the goatherd with his jug of dry corn. Volunteers also ran, trying to keep the herd from fanning out or breaking up into smaller groups. With minor incidents, the event was successful. Afterwards, the sun came out and I took a break, resting on the rocks, having a snack and enjoying the view (see top of blog page). More photo's to follow...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fawn Gambol

A few weeks ago, I watched a spotted fawn browsing across the lower yard with two does. This young one was very playful, stopping to inspect something in the driveway, sniffing the mailbox, wandering into the middle of the road to eat a fallen leaf. They moved up the hill by the side of the house. Little fawn approached the porch where I was standing. He was fearless! Then mama gave a "MOO" (what a shock, to hear a deer sound like a cow!) and off they went trotting into the brush. We didn't see them for a while, and I worried that a cougar or coyote might have eaten the fawn for a snack.

This morning, something charging down the back hill caught Sis' attention. She and I watched an interplay between two young bucks, one doe and the fawn who is getting long and lanky. The adults are grey, the fawn is an orangy brown and losing his spots.... (It could be a female, but oh, so inquisitive- I've dubbed him "Curious George.")

Curious George approached one of the bucks. They were nose to nose. The buck didn't like it. The fawn persisted. The buck smacked George with his head and George backed off. Then the fawn went for a rear inspection. The buck seemed to resent having a fawn nosing his tail end, whirled around and lashed out with a front leg. I'm quite sure he connected.

Undaunted, Curious George tried to cozy up to the other buck, who also was having none of it. Nose-to-nose and then WHACK! CG got hit with another hoof. The female wandered in one direction, the two bucks and CG went the other. I wondered if they were annoyed with this youngster hanging around.

Sis and I ran to the opposite side of the house to watch. The fawn must have heard us. He kept looking in our direction, getting closer and closer. I was thinking, "Little one, your curiosity may get you into trouble!" Hope not. Last minute he changed his mind and frisked up the hill after the disappearing bucks.

I figured it was a gift, getting to see wildlife in action right outside the window. A nice start to a cool, breezy day in the mountains of Tennessee.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Photo Fun















Fishing and hiking adventures lend themselves to "photo op's" and I enjoy using the digital camera. I hope you like these pictures.

Late Summer Dayhike







................The pictures were taken on a section of the Appalachian Trail bordering Tennesee and North Carolina. Because the native deer populaton has decreased, domestic long-hair goats are being used to graze on encroaching Canadian blackberry bushes in an attempt to keep the bald mountains open. Information is available at this site http://baatanygoatproject.blogspot.com/ regarding the Project for Grassy Bald Restoration. Blueberries and blackberries are still ripe. Hiking 6,000 feet above sea level seemed rigorous, at least I blamed my fatigue on the higher altitude. The vista was also breath-taking!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Night

I eased out the door onto the front porch of this log house tonight, instantly surrounded by an intense cacophony of insect sounds reverberating through the canyon. Some bugs sang "chick-a-gum, chick-a-gum," others repeated "widget, widget, widget." It filled up my senses.

Fireflies sparked in the shadows, and I almost expected to see the sleek form of a mountain lion floating across the lawn, or to hear a bumbling black bear breaking branches in the brush. But nothing added to the background noises.

Last week a strange vocalization caught my attention. My sister and her dh also heard it early this morning. A seeking, searching loud and persistent domestic cat type of "maow" with a quivering suffix of "wub-wub-wub-wub." Never have I heard such a thing and I can't identify it on the Internet, unless it might have been an elusive Lynx. That would be a thrill!!!

A cool breeze riffled through the leaves, caressing my face. I rocked and gazed at a sky sprinkled with twinkling lights. One "stoplight star" directly in front of me blinked red/green/red/green. Minute by minute, the yellow thumbnail moon edged toward the heavily wooded ridge.

Numbness began to set in as I relaxed, I could have stayed outside for hours. Unfortunately, the children have to rise early for school and I'm part of the wake-up committee. Hoping for another night, another breeze, another moon...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stepping Out

On this relatively cool sunny morning I took my first solo bicycle ride in Tennessee. The rolling foothills, farm fields and surrounding mountain ranges are beautiful. It felt good to be active and I really enjoyed my time away.....
I've realized that five-year-old's, sometimes cute and cuddly, are also wiry and bony. My nephew can use his toes like a crowbar, or knees like a wrecking ball, in attempts to take over my resting space. A "good" night is when he only "goes diagonal" two or three times. He will have to sleep by himself on a cot. But I will miss that little hand patting my arm or clasping my fingers before he is fully awake. No wonder his mother is dreading this child's first day of school.....
Last night I envisioned an abstract quilt, which hasn't happened in a very long time. I had better make it up before I lose the creative spark, yes?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dotee Dolls Received























With Dotee Doll swaps still active, I wanted to show some of the whimsical dolls I've received. They are all so different! Some have beaded faces, some have wild hair. Many have embellishments and a few have bead tails. Dolls in these pictures were made by Kath L, Paula P, Cheryl B, Pam N, Marja M, Mary Jane B, and two from Barbara L and 'Berta F. Many thanks to the wonderfully creative people who have exchanged their art with me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Thoughts

Crimson cardinal whistles loud his sweet spring song.
I search with eye and ear to find the singer on the branch
but he is not so near.
Half-warmed gusts of wind
seem to waft the fragrance of fresh flowers.
But it is only the melt-
the earth caught half between winter and spring.
copyright 1990
.
Frog Serenade
The sweetest sound to my listening ear
is the chorus of peepers loud and clear
on a cold, damp night in spring!
copyright 1990
.
Spring's Fertile Beginnings
The strong green succulent sprout
pushes its way up through the mouldering forest floor.
Where once was death appears new life once more.
copyright 2001
.
To her true love she did bring
Spring's first heralds- pussy willows!
copyright 1992
.
Catkins
Pussy willows, fuzzy white, now start to show some green;
and soon where kitten bundles were, new leaflets will be seen.
copyright 2004

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blue Girls


To complete one side-swap, I needed to make some blue Dotee Dolls. Next will be a few more Fairies, this time, mint green. This is so much fun, do you think I will be able to stop?

Fairies & Mermaids, Oh My!



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Here are my attempts at Mermaid Dotee Dolls and Fairy Dotee Dolls. The Fairies were the most fun. Who would have thought they would need skirts?!?! Eighteen (18) group participants will be exchanging sixty-four (64) Dotee Dolls. WOW!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Unexpected blessing

Five sunny temperate days afforded me the opportunity to get my bike down off its storage hook and ride through the countryside. I have decided that the reason I enjoy bicycle riding so much is that it is the closest thing right now to flying. Five more sunny days ahead may bring the total to TEN in a row. That has to be a record for this area! I plan to get outdoors as often as possible and catch some rays. Spring is, indeed, almost here. Yea!!!

While trying to live-trap and relocate some smelly skunks, one rabbit and one opossum have been caught and released. Still no success catching Pepe la Pew. I may have to change the bait.

Tonight I assembled three mermaid Dotee Dolls which turned out weird and cute all at once. I had to simulate seaweed, of course. One of three fairy Dotee's is halfway there, but I haven't figured out how I want to make her wings. Should be interesting. I am eager to see what the other participants in the group swap create. Pictures will be posted soon...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

First Paper ATC's


A lovely woman named Jo in Spain agreed to a paper ATC swap with this theme: Green/Stamps. I had been saving used postage stamps for a while. Working with paper seemed a lot flatter, less dimensional than with fabric. I mimicked the gymnist postage stamp with a rubber stamped image, and extended the dragon's body using a piece of melted Tyvek. Small rubber stamped shapes accented with gold paint and sponged gold rubber stamp ink fill the background. I added fine border lines with a black marker. It's a good thing I didn't look at the ATC's she made and sent before making mine, or I would have felt very inadequate. On her two ATC's she extended the subject matter of the postage stamps by drawing and coloring in more of the images flowing from the stamps. They were truly works of art! Our next challenge will be even more of a stretch: stay tuned!

I Can Because I Can...

It gives me satisfaction to find good prices for necessities. Yesterday's specials at the meat market have kept me busy. Last night I canned 7 quarts of pork tenderloin and 7 quarts of chicken. Today I made and canned 12 quarts of bean and chicken vegetable soup, 16 pints of meatloaf, and am up past midnight waiting for two canners with 11 quarts of ground chuck to finish processing. How nice the jars will look, labeled and arranged neatly in the pantry. Meanwhile, my neck and hands are hurting... I need massage therapy badly!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dotee Swap

And now, I've volunteered to host a Dotee Doll exchange at my online fabric postcard group, PCPZ. I hope there will be many participants. I posted three themes to choose from: Spring/Garden (flowers anyone?), Fairies/Angels (wings and sparkles?), or Beach/Mermaid (tails, seaweed, bathing suits, fish, seashells?). I'm eager to see what people come up with.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dotee's On Parade...









After a dear friend went through a house fire, she needed some "craft therapy" so we played in my sewing room. Fifteen Dotee Dolls later, I have some to trade and gift. Another friend asked what the purpose of Dotee Dolls was, and I wasn't sure what to say except that they are easy dolls to make, fun to collect, portable, and nicer than worry stones. Can you tell we had a good time decorating them? Oh yes!