Sunday, December 31, 2017

Rummage Room(s)

From our intrepid correspondent, Ben McCann: "Happy new year from Leverett MA, home of the best county-run rummage room at the transfer station. Each shed is a different category. Takes a dedicated crew to peruse in zero degree weather."

Friday, December 22, 2017


Tammy holding an icicle she got out of a drainpipe.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Crabtree Falls Illuminated by December Supermoon

Randy and Nancy led a hike up to Crabtree Falls on the night of the Supermoon.  This photograph is a reasonable approximation of how it looked to me.

[Since the color receptors (cones) in our eyes don't function in low light, we must use our rods only, and these more sensitive receptors have a much lower spatial acuity and don't register color.]

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Bedroom Window, Saturday Morning

If you stop and think about it, it's kind of mindblowing how different the world looks after a snowfall.

There are two birds in this picture.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Morning in Spruce Pine

The coffee and bagels are good, too.

Parkway Donuts

Yeah, let's head up on the Parkway tonight and cut some donuts.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fire Tower

The High Peaks Trail Association hosted an open house at the old Green Knob fire tower a couple of weekends ago. It was a beautiful day, and a steady stream of people made the short hike up from the Parkway.

The tower is a cool, Erector Set kind of structure with a wooden platform and a small building on top.

The building has been completely restored.

And the views are hard to beat. Because it was thoroughly vandalized when it was open all the time, it's generally closed now (unless you have good ninja skills). When the opportunity presents itself, it's worth taking the time for the visit.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Jacks of the Lantern

This is the amazing 2017 carved-pumpkin trilogy. Scott has learned ninja ways with a dremel tool and other tools to make these narrative sequences. This one grew out of his research into the origin of the name Celo, which has something to do with corn, but, unfortunately, I didn't get the whole story.

Here's small sample of the 100 or so carved pumpkins that were set up on the bridge. Thanks as always to Phillip and Beca Mitchell for creating and perpetuating this amazing annual event.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Celo Halloween Costume Winner

This is a screenshot from Sarah House's Facebook page.

Celo Halloween Hayride Timelapse

Thanks to Eric Witherspoon for this view of the Halloween fun!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Masked Crusader Stymied by Ice Cream Selection at Area Grocery Store

Evan Raskin took this picture at an Ingles in Asheville (and wrote the headline to go with it). He didn't set this up, he just happened upon it.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tourist Binoculars

I love these tourist binoculars -- still 25 cents. This one is at the top of Grandfather Mountain, which is a fun place despite being a major tourist attraction. We were there during one of the busiest weekends of the year. It's a pretty controlled experience, but it's a spectacular place and there were a hell of a lot of people there -- outside.

It also gives you the best possible view of one of North Carolina's greatest atrocities: Sugar Top, which spawned the North Carolina Mountain Ridge Protection Act that keeps anyone else from doing this.

And then there's the mile-high swinging bridge, which is really pretty cool.

Also worth noting that Grandfather Mountain is now run by a nonprofit and is part of a 4,000 acre preserve that's managed in cooperation with the Nature Conservancy and North Carolina State Parks. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

No Extra Charge for Rodents?

Bob Early sent us this report from over on Tunnel Road in Asheville.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Great Brenda Harvey

Many people gathered at the Friends Meeting a few weeks ago to remember Brenda Harvey. Brenda was an extraordinary person: she worked at the Celo Health Center for decades, she and Ken Harvey were married for more than 50 years and raised to marvelous children, Kennan and Tasha (who are no longer children); she was an athlete, a great friend and neighbor, a generous volunteer, a thinker, an astute reader of books, and a person one was always glad to run into.

The program for the memorial included this pair of pictures of the Harvey family.

Many people spoke eloquently about their relationship with Brenda and her many contributions to the community and to other people's lives. And Jeff projected a video that he and Margot made a few weeks before Brenda died.

Almost to the end, Brenda was part of a weekly dance group. After one of their sessions, Margot invited the women to her house and asked them to improvise movement to a wonderful song by The Avett Brothers while Jeff shot video. Jeff and Margot had previously recorded a group of Brenda's friends and family, including her two granddaughters, dancing to the song, and Jeff layered the two videos to make this beautiful collage.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Stompin' at Festatoa

Cuttin' a mulch at the 2017 Festatoa, inspired by the sounds of the Yves Giraud Band. Thanks to Jody and Jennifer for letting everyone have a mad great time at their place, and thanks to the many people who contributed in one way or another. It was a beautiful day.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Cloudy Eclipse from Jay

Jay Zietlow was part of the gathering at David and Kim's documented below. Unlike me, he applied himself to making photographs during the height of the event. Here are four pictures from just before, during, and just after the totality. The picture from the totality appears to be showing a solar flare. Click to see them bigger.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


A whole bunch of people gathered on August 21 at David and Kim's new house to watch the eclipse in the Area of Totality (which would make a good name for a band or a novel). 

Most folks got there early so they could get good and ready.

Like Jacob, who was good and ready.

Some of the kids found it hard to make the eclipse glasses work, so Pace and David made some modified glasses

that were easier to use. (At least one older person found this technology helpful as well.)

Matt and some other folks made a crawl-in, pinhole eclipse viewer.

This is what it was doing inside (multiple pinholes were involved).

Tracking the progress of the moon across the sun.

The sky got pretty cloudy just before the totality, but the clouds were moving and had thin places, so we got a series of beautiful, breathtaking views of the corona. Despite the dimming of the light beforehand, the sudden darkness was stunning. During the last bit of the totality, the sun was not visible at all, and the first bit of direct sunlight to slip past the moon lit up the clouds as though someone had flipped a switch.

Click to see this larger. You might know some of these fine people.

An eclipse in the palm of my hand. Many thanks to David and Kim for being excellent hosts.

Click the triangle to hear a bit of what it sounded like:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Checkin' the specs

Tal Galton and Sandy, from Environmental Engineering and Measurement Services, checking specifications and calibration at the Clingman's Peak rain collection site. The site is part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, one of the longest-running environmental monitoring studies in the country.

Farewell, Paulus

There was a lovely memorial service for artist, teacher, and long-time Penland neighbor Paulus Berensohn on the knoll at Penland last week. The structure was built for the event by Jonah Stanford. More pictures here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tower of pickles

No cucumber is safe at the Bernstein's.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Bob with beets

Change of Address

Artist, teacher, dancer, and friend-to-many Paulus Berensohn had what he referred to as a "change of address" after a stroke and a short stay at Solace hospice in Asheville. He was buried on June 18 in an elaborately decorated cardboard coffin at Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, a green burial site near Asheville. A large group of his friends were there. Facilitating was our old friend and neighbor, Ruth Ostrenga, who is part of the Center for End of Life Transitions

Paulus lived near Penland for 30 years or so. He had a remarkable life. Here's a story about him from the New York Times. Here's a tribute to Paulus that was presented at last year's Penland benefit auction.

I'll miss the sound of his voice.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Not recommended

Gardening in the rain is not generally recommended, but sometimes you just have to do stuff when you have the time.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

And they're off!

Polly and Ginger getting ready to head for New Hampshire. I think we're going to miss them.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bubble Magic

Sarah making bubble magic with Ginger and James at Polly and Ginger's farewell party.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Giants and Lobsters

This yard lobster ran into Giant Gina at the river yesterday.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A lupine position

Miika reports that the lupine are having quite a year.