Because bad taste is better than no taste at all.....

Sunday, July 15, 2018

#8: Vacation time!

 Got a friend down for a visit, and we've gone to see a few things.

Up at the top!
We went cruising around Friday, and since neither of us had been to Blowing Rock in Boone, we swung by there. It was hazy but the view was still nice. 

A watery respite.
After that, we went wandering up through the mountains and found some people parked by the side of the road. After finding a place to park ourselves, we climbed down and found this. It was a popular swimming hole, judging by the number of people up top who took turns jumping in.

Linville Falls
Saturday I got talked into riding with my friend on his motorcycle. He spotted signs for Linville Falls, so off we went. I had been there but it had been a while. It was quite humid.

Table Rock off in the distance.
We also found a little overlook thing, built off the side of the mountain. Still hazy, but that's the "Smoky" mountains for you. 

More to come!

Monday, July 9, 2018

#7: Touch and Go

The remains of last years' leaves scrunched under my feet as I followed the others. Up hill, down hill, along a ridge, up and down again. In one ear a MP3 player provided a soundtrack; the other remained open for the wood-noise to accompany it.

I saw the big brown feather first. A hawk's, perhaps. Or a wild turkey. Both seemed equally likely here in the back of beyond.

A few paces on, and a black feather waved from underneath a fern. And shortly on, a tiny, gray and white down feather, from some small bird.

By the end of the walk I had collected five feathers, including another, smaller black one, and the blue and black stripes of a blue jay. I felt honored to have found so many gifts on my walk, and--bonus--I had managed not to overdo it this week, as well as managing to avoid tripping over things (always my weak point, it seems like out there with the tree roots and rocks sticking up every turn.)

I counted this as a good day.

This particular area had seen a fire in the past year or two, so a lot of the stuff growing up top was gone. But things were beginning to green up once again. In the mean while, enjoy the view.

Shortoff Mountain, from Linville Gorge.

After I got home this afternoon, I found four more feathers in various parts of the yard. Evidently it is moulting season. Either that, or the wee ones really, really like me. (or maybe a little of both)

Harkening back to the "music I may of heard, and didn't remember I had forgot till I had stumbled upon it again" is this one, rediscovered about a week ago. Oddly, the jar to my memory came in the form of the simulated horn at the beginning, rather than the song itself, or the words. I found myself amused at some of the comments on Mr. Lake's voice. Well, let's see. He's pushing 40 at this point, has gained some weight, and has pretty much smoked his whole life.

Let's hear how your voice would turn out under similar conditions. You'd better hope you sound half as good.

And then, for some of us whippersnappers, this is the voice we are familiar with most, Lucky Man aside, this, to some of us, was Greg Lake.

I like to think rather than worrying about the change in voice, rather the music evolved to suit it--that bluesy, almost soulful sound (1992's Black Moon demonstrates this even more so)

They set aside what wasn't working, and evolved.

Sometimes change is good.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

#6: Songgasm

For those of you just joining us, you have probably picked up that I am a bit of a nature geek (I prefer the term "plant nerd") . I wander around in the woods, grow plants in 5 gallon buckets every summer, and take photos of EVERYTHING, from the smallest flower, to the oddest looking bug I happen to see. I wander barefoot in the yard (this backfired last weekend, when I stepped on a bee....ouch...) and just enjoy getting my hands dirty in general.

 You probably also figured out I read a bit. Not as much as I used to; this would require...what's that called? Oh yes. An "attention span", of which I have little left. Most of the books I have kept are plant books (including text books from school), trivia books, and the odd fantasy novel or three. I recently got a book on mushrooms, not because I plan on eating the things growing out there, but just so I can learn some names and just recognise what I am looking at in general.

 But I had yet to mention I am somewhat of a music geek. Silly me, how thoughtless to have not mentioned it before. I have managed to collect a lot of tunes--popular stuff, the not-so-popular, and a little bit of the "what the hell is that noise" kind of thing. I spend some evenings searching for various songs that I listened to, way back when. You see, things were a bit..........difficult.......when I was 12 or so. I will spare you the details (you're welcome to email if you really want to know), we'll just say it's taken me 30 years or so, to become comfortable with myself and my own body. Distancing myself from 99% of my family helped somewhat.

 Or maybe I just grew up finally, who knows?

 At any rate, there were a couple of things that got me through it. One was Tolkien. I swear the man kept me from killing myself at 14. The knowledge that pain, despite the darkness, is only as temporary as you make it. Keep plugging away enough, and the light at the end of the tunnel (or is it the light of the volcano? ;) ) will appear, sooner or later.

The other thing that kept me going, was the radio. That thing provided the soundtrack of my daily life, the background noise providing comfort as I read, or eased me to sleep after another stressful, hellish day. I outgrew the stupidity I had to deal with from other people, and I don't read Tolkien as much as I used to (although I still have the books, read almost to tatters, 30 years later), but I never forgot the music that helped me through it.

 And modern inventions (mainly, the internet and downloading programs) have enabled me to find these songs, once again. I am finding more and more of them, every day. But there are always a few more that I am missing......

 One of the problems has been with instrumental songs. No lyrics, so I can't look them up. Trying to sing (or hum, I guess would be a better idea) to someone doesn't work, as I couldn't carry a tune if it came with a handle. So I have had to rely on randomly coming across them on places like YouTube (over in the suggestions, after listening to another song by someone who I knew who it was) or, if I was really really lucky, catching it at random on a radio station and the DJ actually saying who it was (or at least, the title)

 Such was the case Monday

.When they played a song on the radio I hadn't heard in a long time, but had been looking for, FOR YEARS. And then played the next song on the album, which I DID recognise.

 I almost stopped the car in the middle of traffic.

 Seriously? That's who that is by?


Talk about your songgasm.

In other news, I about killed myself, once again, doing trail work.  In between the hot, humid day, and climbing up hill back to the car, I actually had to stop several times (once I had to *sit down*) to catch my breath. Several people stopped and waited with me, which I was grateful for, but still embarrassing. I evidently need to get out more, or learn to not just take off as quickly. I had trouble on the same trail last year, although I didn't have to sit down then (may of been less humid, who knows?)

At any rate, I did manage to get some photos of the area.

Coming down from the mountain
 The area is called "Hunt Fish Falls", and it's a pain in the ass to get to, even without the stiff climb back to the vehicles. The road isn't as bad as some, but I still wouldn't trust anything less than a 4 wheel drive, even though some people don't seem to care one way or the other. I was glad someone else was driving. 

These folks go here every year, around the week of July 4th, and after working a bit we all hang out there for a while and eat lunch. Some people go swimming, as you may imagine. And we weren't the only people there.

I had to get somewhat creative to get this particular photo, to avoid getting both people, and their damn pile of shoes (that they insisted on piling up right in front of the falls) in the photo. I suppose I could have asked them to move them, but I really don't like making waves, so I just sucked it up and dealt with it.

Fancy a swim? 

Other than getting out of breath, I enjoyed the trip. Next week involves working next to the Linville River (mostly in shade, they assure me). hopefully it won't be as bad a climb.

Stay Tuned!


Thursday, June 28, 2018

#5: Moss II

I pulled the last little bit of green from around a clump of moss. I picked up the broom with clay-stained fingers and began to sweep the old leaves and debris away. There was a sense of satisfaction knowing that when the moss took hold and spread, another moss garden would be complete............
Moss I
I already had a small moss-garden next to the patio; the stuff in it has changed from time to time. It makes a pretty calm atmosphere in the afternoons, when the lizards run across and the beetles and snails come back from wherever they were during the heat of the day.

Back in spring, I was pondering the area in the back of the lot, where a Japanese Maple grew. This maple isn't the grafted, stunted sort you get at the nurseries.
 It was started as a seedling from a yard we had worked on in school, as a project. The owner had just bought the house, and told us that if we wanted the seedlings that grew, to dig them up and take them home as he didn't want them. I had several I had brought home; this was the one that had survived. When it outgrew the planter I had it in, I planted it in the ground in the back, and 7 years later it is probably a good 10 feet tall. It will be a normal sized tree, although not as gargantuan as some trees get. As I watched, the sun peeked around the clouds where it had been hiding most of the day, and I noted that, since the other trees around the area had also grown, the area was mostly shaded. This would explain why the wildflowers I had tried to grow, didn't fare so well (they like full sun) and why the weeds were seemingly taking over now.

I looked over at the moss garden. It occured to me that moss may do as well there, if not better. So I took up some moss from the yard (we have an excess of the stuff, the drainage in the back yard is horrible) and left little "polka dots" of moss behind the maple. And then I let it alone for a while.
The past couple of days have been removing the weeds that have come up in the meantime, and defining the edges. I need to gather more stones from the creek for the edging, and a few interesting ones for the moss to grow on. 

And then, all I will have to do is wait.....

Moss II, coming soon....


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

#4: Little Table Rock

For the folks unfamiliar with western NC, Table Rock is a point overlooking Linville Gorge, in the Pisgah National Forest.  What you may not also realize, is there is a "Big" Table Rock, and a "Little" Table Rock, right behind it. Which is where I ended up Monday afternoon.

I shall forthwith call thee Gary II.
My camera was acting up somewhat, as I had obviously forgot to feed it fresh batteries before I left. but I got a couple good ones.

I met another snail friend. This fellow was even bigger than the last one I saw.  He wasn't terribly impressed at my picking him up off the trail. But I felt it was for the best, with all the trimming and digging we were doing.

I picked him up and he slewed his little head round at me as if to say "really?"  I guess he was afraid I was out for escargot. Fortunately I was not. I set him on the other side of the trail, and he happily went on his snail-y way.

Almost imagine a troll in there somewhere. 
The trail came up to a junction that was obviously used as a camp site, and then turned and went steeply uphill for a quarter mile or so. A couple of hairpin-turns later, and you come to this. You have to scramble up and over various stony obstacles to get through, and you have to really watch where you put your feet.

The stuff growing in the foreground is called Galax. It smells really strange, almost skunky, and the white flower spikes are apparently popular in flower arrangements (although I have yet to see a flower arrangement with these in it). I was told you can get a permit to harvest them here in the park.

About 45 minutes later, we were up on the top, and it was time for lunch.  I had managed to turn my ankle (starting to wonder if I need a brace on my left one, it's always that one that turns) and smooshed my pinky between the bypass loppers and a rock (ow.)

However, I think the view was worth the boo-boo.

Holy Crap.