Friday, December 30, 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Canadian Candle

Zack lighting a Canadian Candle, a.k.a. Swedish Torch. It's an upright log that's been cut vertically several times. This creates a chimney and air intakes so it will draft. Once it gets going it looks like this:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Finally, some good news

Finally, some good news: 2.2 inches of rain recorded at Clingman's Peak by 8:30 this morning, and it was still raining.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Smoke from the fire in McDowell County erupting through the clouds, seen from the entrance to Mt. Mitchell State Park on Tuesday, November 22.

Later that day, Miika sent this picture with a note asking if we live in LA now.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tiny Book

A friend of mine at Penland made this really tiny handstitched book.

Autumn Tablecloth

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Cloud Ocean

Cloud ocean from the Parkway.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Hallowe'en pumpkins and trick-or-treat timelapse

Once again, Phillip and Beca Mitchell organized a massive pumpkin carving event resulting in a fantastic Jack o' Lantern display on the bridge. And once again, Scott Westall outdid himself (and everyone else) with an elaborate three-pumpkin tableaux. You might want to click on this to see it bigger.

Here are a few favorites.

So dapper.

A bit Munch Scream, I think.

Excellent bat.

This one, I don't know, I just liked this one.

This is brilliant: two pumpkin heads have a conversation while being part of a skull.

And here's a little trick-or-treat time-lapse from Eric Weatherspoon.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pre-Hallowe'en Mist on Ohle's Pond

Miika sent this picture of spooky mist on the pond.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Goodbye, Bob

On Saturday, many friends and neighbors gathered at the Celo Friends Meeting to remember Bob Barrus, who died last week at the mighty age of 98. This picture of Bob and Dot came from Gracie Barrus's Facebook page (thanks, Gracie). They were also holding hands when Bob took his last breath.

At the memorial, many people spoke of Bob's gentle character and his kindness. There was also talk about how much he taught to so many people. (Pancakes with cottage cheese and applesauce were also mentioned.) Bob was a teacher: he taught in the public school system, he taught at Arthur Morgan School (which he and Dot helped start), and then he touched the lives of hundreds of young people at Camp Celo, where he was a manager, a mentor, a song and dance leader, and a handyman. (The Camp Celo staff who take care of all sorts of practical matters are still called "Bob Jobbers.") At camp, he taught people how to milk a cow, how to fix things, how to identify plants, how to drive stick-shift, how to resolve conflicts, how to be a responsible person, how to treat everyone with respect, and how to appreciate the beauty of the day.

Bob kept track of the interests and activities of generations of his family, his neighbors, and countless Camp Celo and Friends Meeting folks. He was an extraordinarily pleasant person to talk to. Whenever I ran into Bob, it was easy to pause and have a chat, as it was likely to be the best moment of the day.

I particularly remember two conversations. Once, after having listening to several friends worry about whether too many people were moving here, I asked Bob what he thought about this. He was quiet for a few seconds and then said, "I'm happy to see anyone come here as long as they want to make a contribution to the community." This struck me as such a practical and open attitude, and it's stayed with me as a constant reminder to always try to make my own contribution.

Another time we were talking, I don't remember why, about how you should present yourself to other people. "Someone once told me," he said, "that it's always better to be discovered than to be found out." Another constant reminder.

The last time I saw him, early this past summer, he could hardly hear and was using a funny device that had headphones attached to a battery-powered amplifier with a little microphone sticking out of it. He asked me to hold the device and talk into the microphone while he asked me a some very specific questions about something he knew I was involved with. Communicating was a struggle, but he was still interested and still thinking about things. Another lesson from Bob.

He also taught me how to back up a trailer without jack-knifing it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

View from the river

The view of the river from last weekend's South Toe Triathalon: paddle, walk home, ride bike back to truck (then go get kayak). So far, it's a one-person event.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Let It Be -- just in time

For several years, I've been meaning to stop some time when the light was nice and take a picture of this amazing scene on Blue Rock Road. A guy named Jim (I think) used to sit in one of the chairs sometimes and watch the road, but he seems to be gone.

I finally took the picture on a foggy morning a couple of weeks ago. This past Friday, when I was driving home from work, I saw that it had been turned into a pile of sticks.

This one is worth clicking so you can see it bigger.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Weird Sunset

Our correspondent Evan Raskin sent this picture of a strange sunset. Tal and Jeff, who are part of our scientific braintrust, are of the opinion that this is the shadow of a thunderhead. Jeff reports that the peaks of cumulonimbus clouds typically go as high as 40,000 feet. (That would be 7-1/2 miles.)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Gassing up at Poplar Grove

I guess there was a car show going on somewhere on Saturday.

I don't know if hats were required, but it seems like a good idea.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dinner at Hodshons

Joann sent this picture taken from her porch. She reports that the bottom of the feeder is 6-1/2 feet off the ground.


Miika sent this picture of a chorus of baby birds at Appalachian Theraputic Riding Center.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Squash Boats

Ginger floating squash boats (some with candles) on the wading pool. Tammy started making boats out of overgrown patty pan squashes when our kids were Ginger's age, so now it's a family tradition.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Never eat anything bigger than your head

Jeff with some of the cabbages harvested from the South Toe School garden. They were planted and nurtured by the third grade class under the supervision of Cedar Johnson. The bounty went to the local food pantry.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

So much fun down by the river

Thanks again to Nicole and Gaelen who invited the whole neighborhood to their farm on July 3 for a great day of food, music, the Farm Olympics, and general fun by the river. (If you don't find this picture slightly amusing, you might want t click on it to see it bigger.)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Cedar Waxwing impersonates presidential candidate

Evan Raskin took this spectacular photo at Mt. Mitchell last week and sent it with the caption listed above. Click on it to see it bigger for the full effect.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Feed me! Feed me!

I came across this hungry scene while picking raspberries.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The devil's nostrils

If you are young and translucent and you shine a flashlight on the back of your mouth in just the right way, you can have scary glowing nostrils! Who knew?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

I've never actually seen one before

This is a gray tree frog that was, oddly, hanging out on a railing at the Penland Gallery. There are two species of gray tree frog, which are hard to tell apart. One of them, the eastern gray tree frog (hyla versicolor), can change colors for camouflage. They have sticky disks on their toes and can climb up glass. Although they are cold blooded, they produce glycerol in the winter which allows them to withstand low temperatures without their cells freezing. These are not the spring peepers--that's a different species of tree frog.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

David and Kim got married

Still liking each other after 19 years, David Zietlow and Kim Kuchon figured "why not?", and so they got their friends and family together and made impassioned professions of love out in public and now they are married. This idyllic scene was followed by music, dancing, eating, and drinking (with exceptional coleslaw!).

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Carl's Harp

Carl Peverall with his most recent stone sculpture, titled "Harp." The stones are pinned together with steel rods. Carl builds the sculptures at home and then takes them apart and reassembles them at their final destinations.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

How did this happen?

Bob Early sent me down Arbuckle Road to find this strange occurrence. How, one has to wonder, does a piece of tin roofing end up folded tightly over a branch fifteen feet off the ground?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Pizza Truck!

 We finally checked out the Hog Hollow Wood-Fired Pizza truck. They set up in Burnsville most Thursdays, but it's best to check their Facebook page. The pizza is good. Calling ahead to order is not a bad idea. 

Yup, they have a wood-fired oven in the truck.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A poor choice of a meal

Steve Hill sent this rather astonishing picture of the remains of what they think was an Eastern Fox Squirrel that clearly perished after taking a bite of an electrical wire. They found it in a heating duct.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Listen to the Spring

So Jeff wanted to make these large, nine-sided cones to use like giant ear trumpets. For listening to things. Here's Kenan cutting parts.

Component assembly.

It took some head scratching to find the best way to put these things together.

With several heads working together, we eventually figured it out.

Opal was relatively unimpressed.

The spectators were supportive.

Cosmo climbs.

Matt looks.

Brenda listens. (Dick took this one.)

Almost finished. (Jeff took this one.)

Jeff tries one out at the soccer field. (Gretchen took this one.)

A pair of listeners. (Dick took this one.)

They are waiting for you up at the soccer field. (Jeff took this one.)

Oh, right, you want to know if they work. Yeah, they work. You might say they create an enhanced acoustical space. You can hear stuff. It's really fun. They also work like megaphones if you feel like shouting.

Come listen to the spring