Friday, January 31, 2014

We Love Lucy

Our Lucy loves to have a pillow.  She often rests her head on some rather uncomfortable pillows.  And sometimes she lies on a bed with her head on the floor.

Her body on the bed and her head on the floor.

 Sometimes she lays her head on the hard corner of the hearth.
It looks very uncomfortable.

 The rung of a chair will do just fine.

 But there is nothing to compare to her previous favorite pillow.
Oh, how we all miss Ellie.

Today is the last day of January and I say, "Good riddance."  It's been a month of much colder than normal temperatures, snow and high winds here in the mountains and elsewhere in the country.

So we look forward to our short month.
William Cullen Bryant gives us our quote:

"The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tents the buds and swells the leaves within."

Isn't that a pleasant thought?  Even though we have plenty of winter ahead of us.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

His Music Will Live On

A legend in our time has died.  Pete Seeger died yesterday at the age of 94.  He was a man of principle, never failing to speak out against the wrongs in this world.  He appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955, held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify.  He was banned from commercial television for ten years.  During that time he played on college campuses and campaigned for civil rights.  He returned to television on the Smothers Brothers show.  His song "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" protesting the war in Viet Nam was cut from the show by CBS.

 Pete Seeger says he fell in love with folk music in 1935 when he attended a folk festival here in the NC mountains.

 "The machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender"
The words on his banjo.

When asked about his religious or spiritual views, Seeger replied: "I feel most spiritual when I’m out in the woods. I feel part of nature. Or looking up at the stars. [I used to say] I was an atheist. Now I say, it’s all according to your definition of God. According to my definition of God, I’m not an atheist. Because I think God is everything. Whenever I open my eyes I’m looking at God. Whenever I’m listening to something I’m listening to God."

Seeger was an activist even in his senior years.  He marched in the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.  According to his grandson, Pete Seeger was chopping wood only ten days before his death.  A legend in his own time, we won't see such a man very often.  A man who truly stood up for the rights of all.

Monday, January 27, 2014

An Invasion of Sorts

Who would have ever thought it?  Armadillos living in the mountains of North Carolina.  The sight of a nine-banded armadillo in western NC was first documented in 2008.  The NC Wildlife Resources Commission receives four to six call per year with sightings in western NC.

Presumably the milder winters we have had for the past three years has allowed the armadillo to move into the mountains.  The overall expansion of the armadillo has been ten times faster that average rates expected of mammals moving north.

And now we have confirmed sighting in our very own county.  A SC high school science teacher was driving up US 276 in Pisgah National Forest when he sighted an armadillo digging for grubs in a ditch by the roadside.  He stopped his car and took a photograph of the critter.

 Transylvania County armadillo photographed by
Roger Skillman
(Photo from the Asheville Citizen/Times)

With the finding of the armadillo, the NC State University Cooperative Extension has published recipes for cooking them.  Considered an invasive pest, the armadillo can be killed at any time of the year in NC.  It is very likely that our colder-than-normal winter this year will drastically reduce the population.  The armadillo is not equipped to deal with sub-zero temperatures.

Armadillo Stew
1 armadillo, dressed and cleaned
4 large onions
1 stalk celery
2 cans chopped mushrooms
2 cups uncooked rice
10 cups armadillo broth
salt and pepper to taste

Boil armadillo until tender, reserve broth.  Remove meat from bones.
Saute chopped onion and celery in butter.  Add mushrooms and meat and simmer five minutes.  Put in large Dutch oven and add broth, rice, salt, and pepper.  Bake at 375 1 to 2 hours until tender.

Unfortunately, the Extension does not give hints on dressing and cleaning the armadillo.

Armadillos were called "Hoover Hawgs" and their meat saved many a family during the Great Depression.  As for me?  I'll take a pass on this one.

Friday, January 24, 2014

We Love Lucy

We all love the winter sun.  Our house is situated such that if the sun is shining, one can find a place to sit in the sun.  In winter Lucy follows the sun around the house.  One of her favorite spots is the rug near the front door.

She often snoozes with her head up.

 Sometimes she stretches out to maximize the rays.

Midwestern winters were the worst for lack of sun.  The cold and snow we could tolerate.  But the days on end without the sun took a toll on us.

I thought that John Updike described those winters best:

The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wind Chill

We almost always have a breeze here in the mountains.  This week we have had more than breezes.  We've had high winds.  Winds that would blow the topknot of the cardinals.

 I saw you toss the kites on high
And blow the birds about the sky.

I saw the different things you did
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call
I could not see yourself at all. 

O you that are so strong and cold
O blower are you young or old?
O wind, a blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Very Special Day

Today we commemorate the life and works of Martin Luther King.  Let us all pledge to keep his dream alive.  We are not there yet, but let us move forward.

In his words, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."

Friday, January 17, 2014

We Love Lucy

Our Lucy is fascinated by almost everything.  She watches intently when we open a package or are doing minor work in the house.  She oversaw every ornament that went on the Christmas tree.

She watches birds at the feeders.  She is totally taken with crows and keeps her eyes on them whenever they are around.  Lucy even watches airplanes in the air.  Every now and then she gets a special treat.  Occasionally a helicopter will fly over the house.  Sometimes it is an air lift from the community helipad to take someone to the hospital.  Other times it is someone looking at our community to purchase land.  Whatever the reason, a helicopter mesmerizes Lucy.

Lucy sits on the deck.  She will follow the helicopter until it disappears from sight.

When we lived in WI, there were more planes to see and Lucy never tired of them.  So she is especially glad to see one here in the mountains.

January is half over.  The son of our blogger friend remains in the hospital awaiting a new heart.  (here)  If you are a person who believes in the power of prayer, please pray for this young man.  If you do not pray, please send positive thoughts to him and his family.

Today's quote is from Golda Meir:

Trust yourself.  Create the kind of self that you will  be happy to live with all your life.  Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner spark of possibility into flames of achievement.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bare Mountains

Almost everyone loves the beauty of the mountains.  Most people will tell you they love the autumn colors the most.  Some will tell you they love the varying shades of summer green.  And everyone loves the Christmas card snowy mountains.  I love the mountains at all these times.  But I also love the mountains during those winter days when there is no snow.  No leaves, green or colored.  Simply the bare mountains and the sky.

Cold Mountain looks cold even when there is no snow

 The distant blue peaks blend into the blue sky

 And the bare trees expose their burls and nests

Some people think it strange that I can travel the same roads again and again.  Looking at the same mountains again and again.  But for me these mountains are alive and ever changing.  I love to visit other places, but there is no other place I'd rather live.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Frigid Weather

Last week brought us some of the coldest weather we've had in quite a few years.  So what do we do when the weather changes?  Why we drive all over the place, of course to see the mountains a little differently.  Always changing and ever beautiful.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a photograph of Looking Glass Falls trimmed in a little ice.

 Now the falls are really iced and the surrounding trees are white  with frozen mist.  I have no doubt that the falls would be completely frozen were it not for the shelter of the granite cliff on one side.

 Oh, so lovely.  (and COLD)

We built our house in 2005/2006 not long after three hurricanes flooded the mountains with rains.  When Ivan finally left, thousands were without electricity for several weeks.  So we had a generator installed.  A big generator that would power the entire house for two weeks.  Or even longer if we  really conserved and lived on one floor.  We don't often have power failures and when we do they are of short duration.  But having the generator gives us a lot of peace of mind.

The first time we had a power failure of any length was two years ago.  Over the Christmas holidays with guests here.  The power went off.  The generator did not kick in.  Seems the battery was dead.

Fast forward to last Tuesday.  Minus one degrees.  At 5:00 in the morning the power went off.  Ah...the generator started to hum.  Wait a minute!  Why isn't the power back on?  We called the service people and left a message.  So we sat in the house with the temperatures dropping inside while the generator happily ran outside, burning up propane but not giving us any power.  The repairman arrived around 10:30.  There was a "problem" with the relay strip that allowed the power generated to actually travel to the house.  Ironically enough, the power was restored while the repairman was here.  He showed my husband how to flip the strip manually if needed in the future.

So the final score?  Twice we have needed the generator.  And twice it has failed to deliver.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

We Love Lucy

I have had a terrible time with blogger and have not been able to post or to edit.  Who knows what gremlins control the Internet?

The weather has been quite cold by anyone's standards and extremely cold by NC standards.  The cold doesn't bother Lucy at all.  In fact, she adores it.

We have allowed her to chew on an antler on her bed in the great room.  Before Ellie's death, we allowed them to have chewies and toys only in the den.  But since we felt Lucy needed something to occupy her, we relented.  She loves the antlers.

Yum, yum

 She pays no attention to me, concentrating only on the antler

 Finally she glances up at me briefly, then continues her chewing.

This is along the road near home.

Today's quote is appropriate for the start of a new year.  Walter Elliot said,

Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.

Here's hoping my blogger problems are resolved.  If not, I will restart using Wordpress.  Hope you are all having a good weekend.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Parallel Universe

Every now and then we come across someone whose life has been much like our own.  Such is the case with a fellow blogger and me.  Our paths crossed by reading one another's comments on other blogs which then led to reading one another's blogs and corresponding by emails.

Are we living parallel lives?  You figure.  The more we communicated, the more we found we had in common.  To wit:

We both live in NC and are not far apart in age.

I went to school and was a nurse for several years at the largest hospital in the city where she now lives.  I often played tennis in the same park that her husband now walks and plays with their dog.  She has driven through our town here in the mountains and shopped at "my" yarn shop and bookstore.

We have both driven the same make of car for years.  (Until Saturday when I got a different one.)

My husband practiced internal medicine for several years in a very small eastern NC town.  The very same small town where her grandparents lived and where she visited often.

We both lived for a couple of years in Greenville, SC.

We both lived in WI for many years and both our husbands were somehow connected to life insurance companies.

Both our husbands have retired.

We both love to read and enjoy many of the same books.

We both share the same political opinions.  Loudly and enthusiastically.  "I saw the same thing and thought of you" is a commonly shared phrase.

My son and his wife and her daughter with her husband and her family live in the same Indiana city.

My son and her daughter live on the SAME STREET in that city.

That city was inundated with a huge snowstorm yesterday.  This is a photograph of their street early in the storm.  My blogger buddy's daughter sent it early in the storm.
The snow got much worse than this

So is this all a coincidence?  Living in a parallel universe?  Or were we separated at birth?

Or just damned lucky our paths have crossed?  Isn't the Internet amazing?

Friday, January 3, 2014

We Love Lucy

Lucy seems to be getting happier and more frisky.  While I am sure she still misses Ellie (don't we all?) she is more playful and is her old super excited self when my husband takes her for a ride.

I think it helped a great deal that our daughter was here over Christmas.  One more person to pet and fawn over her, and that's what Lucy adores.  It was hard for our daughter as she had to grieve once more over Ellie's sudden death.  The news was bad enough for her in Milwaukee, but being here in the house without Ellie brought more pain.  Ellie loved our daughter so much and sat by her side when she was here.

We are delighted that Lucy is so much improved.  Whatever the reason we are glad to see her more like her old self.

She looks like the princess she believes herself to be.

As you go about this new year, please continue to send messages to the Deity of your choice for the health of a brave young man awaiting a heart transplant.  HERE  The son of a fellow blogger, he has not had a good 2013 so please send thoughts that 2014 will bring him a new heart and good health.

Our quote for this week comes from the Buddha.  May our elected leaders follow it:

There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth...not going all the way, and not starting.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year Request

And in the words of Helen Keller:

Your success and happiness lies in you.  Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

As we celebrate the coming of the new year, there is a brave young man in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant.  HERE  Please send up positive wishes for this fine young man and his family.