Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Farewell, old buckeye friend

Margot sent over a picture of this drawing, which is Gina Maria's tribute to the huge buckeye tree with the marvelous swing that, until just recently, was the backdrop to Randy's garden at the Celo Inn (click this picture so you can see it bigger). Alas, the tree and its swing had to come down.

Randy said, "Imagine your favorite pair of shoes...eventually your feet grow to the point that it hurts to wear them.  With sadness you retire that pair and get another that, hopefully, you love as much.  In the case of the tree, it had simply outgrown the space that was available for it.  Roots from the tree filled every garden bed, even the greenhouse -- it was a very happy tree with all that fertile soil to feed in."

Nancy said, "The roots and shade were eating the garden.  The trunk and limbs were listing toward the power line.  The leaves provided a lifetime of mulch.  When it bloomed each May, the bee symphony was a spectator (or what’s the audio version of that word?) event.  In this world of change, it’s a small thing to grieve, but I will."

squirrel larder

A mother load of acorns in one of my boots this morning.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rime Ice

Rime ice is that white stuff that even from a distance doesn't really look like snow and is often covering the top of the blacks on cold mornings when it hasn't snowed. This is what it looks like up close. It's worth clicking this one to see it a little bigger.

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, rime ice is, "a white, opaque, granular deposit of ice crystals formed on objects that are at a temperature below the freezing point. Rime occurs when supercooled water droplets (at a temperature lower than 0° C [32° F]) in fog come in contact with a surface that is also at a temperature below freezing; the droplets are so small that they freeze almost immediately upon contact with the object. Rime is common on windward upper slopes of mountains that are enveloped by supercooled clouds. Rime is composed of small ice particles with air pockets between them; this structure causes its typical white appearance and granular structure"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A restroom reminder

From Bonnie and Clyde's restaurant in Loafer's Glory.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Radio Ridge

So I've been driving up to Clingman's Peak, near Mt. Mitchell, every Tuesday morning to collect rainfall data and rainwater samples that I send off to the University of Illinois for a long-term study of the contents of rainwater. This is a job I took over from Miles. Right next to the rain gauge station is a chain link fence. On the other side are some buildings and four tall towers with lots of broadcasting gizmos on them. I think one of these is the WNCW tower. I've been told that some of the others have to do with various emergency service radio networks. None of them look like cell towers.

This week Nancy went with me and when we got there, the gate was mysteriously open. There was no sign of anyone, so we did a little exploring. It's a spectacular spot with rock outcroppings and breathtaking views, along with a bunch of electric transformers, a huge propane-powered generator, the towers, and all these horizontal structures that carry cables from the towers to the mysterious building (it's larger than my house).

There were also some surveillance cameras, so I expect we're now in some homeland security archive now. Fortunately, Nancy looked great in her green woolen cape.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pumpkin Bridge

Once again, Halloween night was lots of fun at the Seven Mile Ridge Road Bridge. Philip and Beca Mitchell hosted two nights of pumpkin carving at his house and then placed dozens of jack 'o lanterns on the bridge. Scott Westall showed up with this illuminated, carved wooden sign.

Here's some carving action.

Here are a few pumpkins.

The amazing jellyfish o' lantern.

Is this the Monopoly guy?

Mmm, tres moderne.

And this triple-pumpkin panorama is Scott Westall's 2014 masterpiece.

Check out the shading on the mountains. I'm not sure how he does this.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Planting Miles' garlic

Robin and Ginger keep the love and magic alive.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fortune telling

Margot tells the future at the South Toe Elementary School Fall Festival

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Blue Rock Road

Friday, October 10, 2014

A million views and counting

  A YouTube screen shot with a rather large number.

Just in case there's anyone left who doesn't know about this, I thought I'd go ahead and report.

In 2012, Jeff and a bunch of our friends and neighbors spent an afternoon assembling a giant version of what is normally a tabletop demonstration called a pendulum wave. You can read our previous posts about this project here and here including a video of the pendulum wave in its original location in the soccer field. After a few weeks, Jeff took the structure down and reassembled it at his house, greatly improving the release mechanism and adding little chimes and strikers so it acquired a musical component.

Late in August of this year, a group of kids from Camp Celo came over to Jeff and Margot's house on a Sunday morning to watch the pendulums. One of the adults who came along was Maria Ikenberry, and she made a nice video of the action. She posted the video on her Facebook page where it has now gotten 315,800 shares. She also posted it on YouTube and from there it was picked up by a website called This is Colossal,. Then it was on Huffington Post and a bunch of other widely read websites. As of this evening it has gotten 1,071,616 views on YouTube.

If you do not account for one of those views, you can watch it here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tiffany glass light

Did you see the light Sunday morning? Ah!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Taco Truck!

This picture was taken -- no kidding -- in Yancey County. This truck has been operating for a couple of weeks in the parking lot of the old Byrd's Furniture, formerly the old Newdale Grocery, on 19E in Newdale. The owner said they are open Wednesday through Sunday. Not sure about the hours, but evening is probably your best bet. The menu is quesadillas, tortas, and tacos. Not too much for vegetarians, maybe the quesadillas. 

The product is quite traditional: double corn tortillas, meat, onions, cilantro; add lime and salsa to taste. Yum. They also have Mexican soft drinks (including that cult item, Mexican Coke) in a picnic cooler. At 5:00 on Friday, they were doing a brisk trade.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Horse-Drawn Theater Returns

This is the Rural Academy Theater performing at Penland the other night. They are roaming around WNC with their horse-drawn theater wagon. The show includes great music, a shadow play, several declarative narratives (I made up that term), a silent movie (shown here), and group crankies. They are performing on Friday, October 3 at Arthur Morgan School here in Celo and again on October 7 at Marshall High Studios in Marshall. It's a good show.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A clear sense of mission

This menu from Britt's Donuts in Carolina Beach -- shown here in its entirety -- represents, I think, a very clear sense of mission.

They make only one kind of donut: it's a yeasted dough, glazed. They are distinctive and best consumed immediately. It's fun to watch them being made. If this kind of donut does not appeal to you, then you'll need to get your donuts elsewhere.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

Mari's preschool had a little harvest meal to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. A half-dozen children and their doting adults gathered in the Friends Meeting playground for bread, garden vegetable soup, and cuteness.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


From Elaine Bleakney

From Nanci Mansfield

Thank you, everyone. We have been so deeply moved by the outpouring of love, support, and shared sadness.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Miles at 16. We are so lucky to have had him in our lives for so long.

The obituary we wrote for the local paper can be accessed through the "Read more" link below.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lisa retires

After more than 40 years of delivering babies, teaching childbirth classes, and championing women's health, the remarkable Lisa Goldstein has retired. Here she is opening a present at the lovely party held in her honor at the Spruce Pine fire department building.

Gavriel was looking good with his celebratory beard.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Guardrail eyes

Guardrail eyes are watching you. But who watches the watchers?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pig roast at the Redneck Riviera

Scott and Sarah and friends celebrated their new beach with a lovely party.

Monday, July 21, 2014

There must be a story here

But I don't know what it is. This was on Blue Rock Road. As near as I could make out, it was pinto beans and some kind of corn meal mush. Yes, I moved it off the road after I took the picture.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cheek massage

James massages his cheek with his toes.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Gnarly, dude!

This is Horse Rock Meadow at the top of the Blacks. From our side, you get there on the Woody Ridge Trail, which is ridiculously steep (3100 feet of elevation change over 2.2 miles). A couple of weeks ago, Nancy and Linda and I got up early and hiked to the meadow so we could watch the runners in the Quest for the Crest, a 10 kilometer race that started at the top of White Oak Creek Road (near Mountain Gardens) and ended on Bolens Creek Road over on the other side of the Blacks.

The organizer of the race promoted it as "The World's Hardest 10K" and the description of the event included this claim: "The Black Mountains are the HIGHEST mountain chain EAST of the Rockies. They are arguably the gnarliest as well."

It took us the usual 2-1/2 hours to get to the top.  The guy in the picture above was the race leader (ahead by about 5 minutes when he passed us), who made it to the top in 45 minutes. It was kind of hard to wrap my mind around.

Our own Tal Galton, who might be the Woody Ridge Trail's most frequent climber, got to the meadow in just under an hour.

Sean, the affable (and dragon-tattooed) organizer was among the first few to make it to the top, where he stayed and greeted everyone else as they crossed the meadow. "How was the climb, bro?" "Awesome, dude!"

There was one water stop, about a mile down the Bolen's Creek side. When this woman passed there, she declared that she was having a fantastic time. She still had three miles of running left....but it was all downhill.

Nancy and I walked back down Woody Ridge and found, somewhat to our surprise, minimal damage to the trail. If it had been raining, however, it might have been a different story.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A big problem?

So, I wonder if this is a big problem.

Although I do have to admit that when I'm walking around Ingles, I sometimes have a strong desire to talk like Donald Duck.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Nate Allen showing off the nearly-ready Spoon on Thursday night.

Spoon, the Upper Street expansion of the Knife and Fork empire, is quietly opening this weekend, maybe. If you are in Spruce Pine Friday or Saturday night, you might want to check and see.

The Center for Rural Health Innovation is having an event at Spoon on Wednesday, May 28. If you want to go, there's information here.

I think the official opening is Friday, May 30, but check with K and F before you leave the house.

UPDATE: I can report that Spoon did, with no fanfare, start serving drinks and food on Friday night: nice cocktails, beer, wine, high-quality bar snacks, and sandwiches. Art everywhere, and it's a mighty pleasant place.

Flame Azaleas say thanks

For more than 20 years, Jody has been maintaining the right of way beneath the power lines near our houses by selectively cutting trees that would grow into the lines -- as an alternative to the power company spraying herbicides on or mowing this rich and unique ecosystem. The shrubs, ferns and wildflowers that now populate this path through the community are a testament to what one tenacious and generous person can do.  Each spring, the flame azaleas say thanks.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A timeless classic

Some things still work so well that they just can't be improved. No app needed. Take the sandbox, for instance.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

From Elpenor's Shed

Paul Ohle had a yard sale today to clear out some of his father's old stuff. Along with a number of useful tools, I came home with these. They are sturdy tacks with raised numbers cast into the heads. There were two sets of them. They were too cool to pass up, but what on earth are they for? The answer was on the back.


If you can't read this, click on it to make it bigger.