LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Friday, December 18, 2015

We Love Lucy


Lucy selects one or the other of her beds in the great room based on the sun during the day or near the fire at night.  She loves lying in sun, especially during the winter days.  Unlike our Ellie, she does not like it when I bring out the camera.

 Nope.  Not gonna smile.  Not at all.




 You can make me sit next to the Christmas Tree, but you can't make me smile.

We have company for the holidays, so I will most likely take a blogging break until after the New Year.

Today's quote is from Dave Barry:

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season;
The Christians called it "Christmas" and went to church;
The Jews called it "Hanukkah" and went to synagogue;
The atheists went to parties and drank.
People passing each other on the street would say
 "Merry Christmas!" or
 "Happy Hanukkah!" or
 (to the atheists) "Look out for the wall!"

Whatever you celebrate or choose not to celebrate, may the year end well for you.  And realize that the daylight minutes will begin to lengthen in our hemisphere.  And that's a good thing.  Even if it's seconds per day, we'll  be heading in the right direction.

HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND, EVERYONE!

 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Seriously? You got a television in there?


Sitting back from the road on US 276 near our community is an outhouse.  Looks like a two-seater.  And surprisingly there is a satellite dish on top.  It is on the property of a heating and air conditioning service and installation office.  One has to wonder;  if you have a satellite dish for a television in your outhouse, couldn't you install indoor plumbing?



All right.  Truth be told, the outhouse is really a storage shed.  And when you live in the mountains, you place the satellite dish anywhere you can to get reception.  But I do love the sloped roof, the hinged door, and the moon and stars that make it look just like an outhouse.  Makes me smile every time I pass by.  And a smile is always a good thing.

Friday, December 11, 2015

We Love Lucy


This week here in the NC mountains the weather belies the calendar.  We have had above normal temperatures and sunny weather.  Warm enough to be outside with only a light jacket or sweatshirt.  While we have definitely enjoyed the respite, we are ready for normal winter weather.  And that does appear to be what we will expect over the weekend.

Lucy has enjoyed the sunny weather but I think she would prefer that it be a bit colder.  She is always comfortable in the house, usually on the dog bed near my husband's chair.  Sometimes she slides her head underneath the chair.  I have no idea why.


Wonder if she thinks she is hiding




 She pays little attention to me as if she really wants to be left alone.


The quote today comes from Albert Einstein

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 

Wouldn't it be wonderful indeed if we could embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature?  At least we can try.




HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND, EVERYONE


 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Shepherd's Delight


There's an old saying about the sky and weather predictions for the coming day.

Red sky at night; shepherd's (sailor's) delight.
Red sky at morning; shepherd's (sailor's) warning.

It is, in fact almost a scientific truth.  When the sky is red at night, it does mean the weather is clear to the west.  And in the US, most weather patterns move from west to east.  So if it's clear to the west, that weather will move to us tomorrow, giving us a nice day.  (Some folks say we here in the east get the west's leftovers.)  The red color indicates more pure color, thanks to the clear western weather.

We cannot see the large expanses of the skies one can see from the western desert or the eastern coast.  When meteor showers are expected, we must drive a fair distance away in order to see enough sky to count the shooting stars.

We cannot see even the sunset from our house.  It sets behind distant mountains not in our view.  But every now and again, we see the reflections of the setting sun coloring our clouds.  And it is indeed a beautiful sight. The bright pink/reddish glow of the clouds in the beautiful blue sky amaze us.  The color is very brief, lasting only a few minutes at most before the moment is lost.

It begins with very bright pink




 The color mutes quickly




 More and more pale in just minutes before it disappears

The photographs above were taken from our deck within a few minutes.  By the time I moved to the front of the house, the colors were gone.  That quickly.

But it was amazing while it lasted.  And, yes.  The next day dawned bright and clear.  A welcome respite after several days of rain.


Friday, December 4, 2015

We Love Lucy


Finally the rains have stopped and we have clear and crisp weather.  We are slowly decorating for Christmas.  It's so much easier since we are retired.  I remember times when we felt obliged to get it all done over a weekend.  Now we decorate over a period of several days.

Lucy is not at all interested in participating in the decorations.  She doesn't even bother to watch what we are doing.  You might think from recent posts that she does nothing more than lie on her bed.  Truth is, she goes for an extensive run off leash in the park almost every morning.  And at age ten, she is no longer a puppy.  So after her runs she does spend a lot of time on her bed with her two favorite pillows.  Lest you think she is really asleep, I can assure you that if the treat jar is opened either upstairs or downstairs, she is alert and ready to find the treats.


She rearranges the pillows to suit her




 Sometimes she sleeps on her side.

I don't think we have ever had a dog who managed to look more comfortable then Lucy does.  She knows when we go downstairs to the den even when she appears to be sleeping and will get up and come downstairs where there are two comfortable beds there in the den and one in my husband's study.  (Yes, we still have Ellie's bed there.  Can't bring ourselves to give it away.  And sometimes Lucy does lie in it.)

This week brought another tragic shooting, this time in our country.  Again.  And once more it was followed by rhetoric and a refusal by Congress to pass legislation to prohibit even the people on terrorist watch lists from legally purchasing firearms.  Or to strengthen the background check requirements to include Online sales and sales at gun shows.  The Senate Majority Whip (a Republican from Texas) said such legislation violated constitutional rights because someone might be on a terrorist watch list in error.  I obviously have no answers, but I do know that obtaining very dangerous multi-round firearms is far too easy in this country.

So once again, we hold the victims and their families in our thoughts.  And wring our hands helplessly.

Today's quote is from Mother Teresa.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

I do fear that as a Nation, we have forgotten that we belong to each other.  And to one planet.  Some people seem to think that belonging to one religion or political party is what identifies them.  They truly have forgotten that all of us belong to one another.

HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND, EVERYONE
DO ANYTHING YOU CAN TO PROMOTE PEACE



Monday, November 30, 2015

Red Birds on a Gray Day


When the goldfinches have dulled and most of our birds are wearing muted winter coats, the Northern Cardinal sports the brightest color in the forest.  While the males are truly brilliant, the females are lovely as well.  My mother never called them "cardinals."  To her they were always "red birds."  I was in fifth grade when I learned the real name of the red bird.

We are having rain, fog, and mist here in the mountains.  Almost everything seems the same shade of gray.  But when our native Northern Cardinals appear, they brighten up the forest and warm our hearts.


They sit in the trees in the early morning and late afternoon, waiting to dine at our feeders.
The male has a beautiful color that can only be described as "cardinal red."
This angle does not show his topknot.





 The females are not as brightly colored.  Some of them even appear gray.
But they are still lovely birds.



On rainy winter days I always think of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "The Rainy Day"
And it's on my mind today.
Here is part of it:

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.


Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.



I have always loved poetry.  I memorized tons of poems when I was a child and can still recite most of them.  My Kindle is packed with anthologies and complete works of many poets.  I love the fact that I can carry the works of so many great poets in such a tiny convenient space.  I often pull them up and read them again and again.  And I have audible books with some contemporary poets reading their own work.  Oh, so lovely.  Often I sit on the deck watching the birds and listening to poetry readings.  So peaceful.

Hope you have a good week.  Make a promise to yourself that you will not let the season turn you into a shrew.  For Christians the countdown to Christmas has begun.  For Jews, Hanukkah begins next Sunday at sundown.  This should be a season of reflection and peace.  Don't let it become chaos and despair.


Friday, November 27, 2015

We Love Lucy



November is almost over.  I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.  Ours was very nice and the weather has been great.  Lucy enjoyed a long run in the park and a couple of shorter trips to the back yard to play in the leaves.

She has a basket of toys.  She used to forage in there and bring out a long-neglected toy but rarely does that now.  She's less interested in the tennis balls Ellie was so fond of, and she ignores most of her toys altogether.  The exception is a blue tug.  It's quite old and the center connecting piece is long gone.  She and Ellie had hours and hours of fun with it.  Our daughter bought an identical red one so they would have a replacement when the blue one finally broke.  The red one gets ignored.  Perhaps there are some good smells associated with the old blue one.  [Note to self:  take those other toys to the local shelter.]

Most often the toy is a toss and retrieve but occasionally my husband will let her win a tug-of-war.




 I love to hear her low growling as she pulls for the tug


 She obviously needs no toys when we are in the yard.  She runs and sniffs the air and the ground.  She especially loves it when there are leaves on the ground.  The back yard is natural woods, so we do not clear any leaves.   They are deep and fun.  Lucy loves to run through them although she hates it when they get caught in her rear feathering.


 Something has caught her attention.  We have a variety of wildlife passing across the back near the creek.
Who knows what she might be smelling?

And so Thanksgiving Day was wonderful.  The only negative came at the end of the day when our Packers were defeated by Da Bears.  At Lambeau.  On the night Brett what's his name's jersey was retired. (Sorry, I have a long memory.)  In the presence of Bart Starr.  And fans suffering in the blinding rain and wind.  True to his gracious nature, Aaron Rodgers did not place any blame, simply saying that he and his receivers need to be on the same page.

Last night they did not look like they were even in the same book with pass after pass falling either to the ground or into the arms of the bears.

Today's quote come from English essayist George Colman:
Praise the bridge that carried you over.

So let us all be thankful for all those who came before us and built the bridges that allow us to cross. 



HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND, EVERYONE



Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Turkey Day


We always have a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving Day.  This year it's only the two of us.  But there is still a big turkey to eat, for leftovers, for sandwiches, and some to freeze.  And we have plenty of turkeys decorating our home.  Here are a few.


Tom comes out every November



We just love the bouncy head on this one




And, of course, we fly a turkey flag.



HAVE A WONDERFUL THURSDAY, EVERYONE
WHETHER YOU CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING OR NOT

 

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Little Dark Humor


No real reason for this post except I loved this cartoon and wanted to share it. It made me laugh out loud.

I have followed the late Jeff MacNelly's cartoons for years.  His cartoon, "Shoe" continues, now written by his last wife (I'm not certain but I think she was his fourth wife) Susie MacNelly and his co-worker Gary Brookings.

Known for his dark humor and political satire, Jeff MacNelly won many awards, including two Pulitzers
His cartoon continues after his death with the same flavor.
This was the syndicated cartoon for yesterday's Sunday papers.
[I could not find a way to get permission but I'm clearly crediting the work.]
(You may need to click to enlarge)

 MacNelly was educated at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and named his most famous cartoon series "Shoe" in honor of Jim Shumaker (nicknamed "Shu") who was his editor and mentor at the Chapel Hill Weekly as well as a professor of UNC-CH.

Jeff MacNelly was such a hard worker that he continued to produce Shoe until his death, although he had turned over the creative side of Shoe long before then.  Literally on his death bed, MacNelly was producing editorial cartoons on the very day he died.  From his hospital bed on June 8, 2000.

Friday, November 20, 2015

We Love Lucy


Our weather this week has run the gamut.  From bright sunny days to bleak and rainy days.  From above normal temperatures to much below normal temperatures.  From shirtsleeves to jackets.  And to those of you in the midst of terrible snows and storms, we are not complaining.  We know we have it better than most.

Our Lucy takes the weather in stride except for the rain.  She hates going out in the rain.  And she hasn't yet caught on that the longer she delays what she needs to do the longer she has to be out.


She constantly rearranges her bee and bone pillows.
And sits in the sun on nice days.
You're not going to make me get up, are you Mom?




 And when it's rainy and dreary, she cuddles with the pillows.
Too bad she can't enjoy a good book, but snoozing seems to work just fine.
We don't tell her rainy days mean really bad hair days for Goldens.

We have all listened to far more rhetoric from politicians about the refugee crisis than most of us care to hear.  I am especially appalled at the candidates who suggest that only Christians should be allowed into our country.  (I am fairly certain they deliberately excluded non-believers.  But I do wonder if they intentionally left out members of the Jewish faith.)

While I am not often wont to spin religious, today's quote comes from the Holy Bible.  Jesus was talking about who will enter the kingdom of heaven.  I wish those bible-thumping, pray loudly in public, high and mighty folks would take heed of these words their very own leader gave to them centuries ago.  This is what Jesus said it really means to be a Christian.  (This is only part of the text.  For the full text read Matthew, Chapter 25)

"Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. 

For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat;  I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink;  I was a stranger, and you invited me in;
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."







HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND, EVERYONE

ECHO WORDS OF PEACE

 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Je suis Fran├žaise


Today we are all French.  What happened over the weekend in France, and recently in Beirut, in Kenya, in Iraq, and other countries saddens us beyond words.




In times like these, we stand by all those affected.  We grieve for them and hold them in our thoughts.  Not only for the victims in France but also the victims of terrorism all across our planet.

Let us not give these terrorists any religious connection as many (including prominent politicians) have done.  Islam does not condone these acts.  Allah does not lead them.  Let us not become even more prejudiced against any religion or ethnic group.  And please let us not respond to these attacks incorrectly (as our Nation has done before).  But let level heads prevail.

It is not tolerable, it is not possible, that from so much death, so much sacrifice and ruin, so much heroism, a greater and better humanity shall not emerge.
-Charles de Gaulle

Friday, November 13, 2015

Remembering Ellie



On November 10, 2013 our dear Ellie died suddenly.  She had been the picture of good health.  "Passed" her physical with flying colors a month before.  My husband had taken the two Golden Girls for a walk and all seemed fine.  As he approached our driveway, Ellie fell down and could not get up.  We rushed her to the nearest animal hospital where they found bleeding into the sac around her heart.  She died on the operating table from the large hemangiosarcoma on her heart.  She was ten.

Ellie was the gentlest and most obedient dog we ever owned.  She learned quickly and was always eager to please us.  She was so very tolerant of our higher-strung Lucy and was a subtle alpha dog.

No matter what attracted her, she did not break a "sit" command



She was frequently seen with two tennis balls in her mouth.
She could carry three but seemed to prefer two.



She allowed Lucy to use her for a pillow, never growling or disturbing her



The last photograph of the Golden Girls together.
It was a gorgeous late fall day and they had been running and playing.
We made them stop for some water and to rest.
Who would have dreamed that this healthy dog would be dead less than two weeks later?



This is my favorite photograph of Ellie, now the wallpaper for my laptop.
She was not allowed in the hallway leading to my study.  So she stood patiently at the door hoping to catch my attention so I would come out and play.

Ellie's breeder had the following sign above a photograph of one of his favorite Goldens.  It has been attributed to Dr. Seuss, but that is not definitive.  It is very appropriate for our memories of Dichi Sirius Eleanor Rose:
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

And we take comfort from the words of Kahlil Gibran:
 "When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart.  And you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

Oh, dear Ellie, you truly were my delight.

HAVE A MOST WONDERFUL WEEKEND, EVERYONE!


 

Monday, November 9, 2015

The French Broad is not a Woman from Paris


A couple of weeks ago, we walked a trail alongside the French Broad River.  This wondrous river begins right here in our county at the Eastern Continental Divide only a few miles from our house.  Called Aqiqua (broad), or Tahkeeosteh (racing water) by the Cherokee, the French Broad is one of the oldest rivers in the United States. Unlike most mountain rivers, the French Broad did not cut its way through the mountains; it is an antecedent drainage basin, meaning the river was here before the mountains.  So the river is older than the Blue Ridge Mountains themselves.  And the Blue Ridge Mountains began forming over 400 million years ago.

Such a lovely river


The French Broad, unlike most rivers in the United States, flows north rather than south.  (I believe there are only two rivers in the eastern US that flow north; the French Broad and New River, also in North Carolina.)  [Addendum/Correction:  As KG Mom noted in her response, there are several rivers, including some in the Eastern United States that run north.  Sorry, I was relying on my grade school study of North Carolina.  At least I did say "I believe" noting that I was not certain.]   The French Broad flows from here in Transylvania County to Asheville and then north to Knoxville, TN.  In Tennessee the French Broad joins the Holston River to become the great Tennessee River.

Gently flowing with relatively mild rapids, the French Broad is very popular for kayaking and canoeing


In pioneer days, the French Broad was used extensively for transporting crops for trade.  The Buncombe Turnpike was a dirt road following the French Broad through the mountains.  A major trade route for livestock, the Turnpike contained several inns and brothels along the way.  Often the livestock drivers would become unhappy with their bosses and stay at the inns, waiting to join up with another drive.  Some called the Turnpike a "river of hogs" because of the number of pigs driven on the hoof from the farms in Tennessee to the mountains of North and South Carolina and areas further south.

The route benefited the NC farmers as well since they could take crops to the Turnpike to sell to the hog and cattle drivers.  Thus the Turnpike played a major role in the economic development of the mountains.  And with its opening in the early 1800s, people of western North Carolina were no longer isolated.

A small island divides the French Broad here


My husband grew up in Asheville and when he was a youth, the French Broad was so contaminated it looked murky and was not fit for swimming or other water sports.  Major initiatives, led by author Wilma Dykeman, worked to clean up the French Broad.  Today it is clear and pure.  Major breweries have moved to our area and Asheville to take advantage of the fresh and clean waters from the French Broad River.


The French Broad doesn't look so broad at this point because of the island dividing it




Such a soothing sight.  I could spend a day just watching this river.



In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.
Leonardo da Vinci


Friday, November 6, 2015

We Love Lucy


Halloween is over and we're marching forward to Thanksgiving.  Our weather this week has been rain, mist, and drizzle with very brief glimpses of the sun.  If there is sun, Lucy will find it and enjoy it for the time it stays.


For a dog who loves pillows, she also loves to rest with her head lower than her body.
Perhaps in this case it is to get more of herself in the bright sunlight.


Most areas of our country held various elections on Tuesday.  We live well outside the city limits and there were no county-wide or state-wide elections for us this year.  I always watch the "off" year elections keenly since they frequently give us a glimpse into the future.  And unfortunately, it does not look all that bright.  We are getting a bit of fatigue associated with the upcoming Presidential election process.  I do not recall such vitriolic rhetoric from people who would be President in my life.  I've seen many elections so I know about the half truths and power of negative advertisements.  But usually the candidates themselves do not shout offensive slogans...they let their PACs do the dirty work.  [And once again we thank SCOTUS for the Citizen's United decision.]

Sadly, the path to the White House this year will get even uglier.  I shudder to think what foreign leaders think when they hear some of the outrageous statements from some of the candidates.  I fear they are both laughing at us and preparing to be our enemies.

Autumn days are waning rapidly now.  We've lost most of the leaves with the rain and wind and the mountains are looking more and more like winter.  It has been a wonderful Autumn and we have enjoyed it.

Our quote today comes from Chinese poet Lin Yutang:


"I like spring, but it is too young.  I like summer, but it is too proud.

So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow.

Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age.

It knows the limitations of life and its content."


HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND!
HELP ONE ANOTHER
SHARE THE CANDY YOU HAVE LEFT OVER


 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Transylvania Halloween


As regular readers know, we live in Transylvania County, so named because the mountains and trees reminded folks of Transylvania, Romania.  Perhaps because of the county name, our town goes all out for Halloween celebrations.  There are couple of streets downtown so popular with trick or treaters that merchants put out collection boxes for donations to help the residents supply treats for all the little ones brought to their streets for the fun.

Halloweenfest draws us downtown every year.  It is so much fun to see all the costumes and visit the street vendors.  Several blocks of the intersecting main streets are barricaded for the festivities and it has a wonderful small-town flavor, the sights and smells of Halloween.

One of our flags we see as we leave our driveway




 The day was unseasonably chilly.  Sales of handmade scarves were high




 I loved the little farmer and his John Deere tractor.
He did not let go of his little brother's hand the entire time we saw them




 A fantastic Audrey at a booth selling plants




 The display in front of our toy store, O.P. Taylor's




 A quick visit to our Farmers Market completes our outing.


It goes without saying that I took far too many photographs of people in costume, the musicians, and the festivities.  I can't imagine going back from digital to film.

It's chilly and dreary here with more rain stripping the remaining leaves from the trees.  By the end of the week it will look more like early winter around here.  Our rivers are high and we are under a flash flood warning as is most of Western NC and Upstate SC.  I'm glad the trees are getting a drink but I'm ready for the sun to return.




Friday, October 30, 2015

We Love Lucy


We seem to have had a streak of bad luck in our house lately.  First a new refrigerator and then a new washer and dryer.  And now, when we have had some really chilly mornings, our new (less than a year installed) fireplace with gas logs failed to work.  The system is fully enclosed and can only be opened by repair people.  (Not that we would have tried anyway.)

So a repairman came out and set to work.  They had identified the problem from a video I sent showing the logs igniting and then promptly going out.  And he fixed it easily.  While he was here he did the routine annual service work so we are all set.

When we have repairmen in the house Lucy considers it her duty to watch them carefully.  Our Ellie, on the other hand, would have greeted the repairman but when he brought out anything noisy she would have skedaddled to her crate for security.  At any rate, Lucy sat in front of my chair the entire time the workman was here.  She watched closely at every little thing he did and was not at all concerned with the very loud noise of his vacuum.



Doesn't look so hard to me.
I'll bet I could do that.
If only I had those magic thumbs they talk about.
,


 The mountains have been so beautiful this fall.  We took a day to go over to the Biltmore Estate to walk some of the trails there.  It was sunny and cool.  Perfect weather. (You might want to click on the photographs to appreciate the beauty.)

 The Biltmore House from the "back" side.




 One of the ponds on the estate.

We did not take Lucy with us.  Instead, we engaged our dog walker to visit her while we were gone.  We do take her to the trails in the nearby National Forest and State Forest and for rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  When Ellie was alive they had such fun together, but Lucy still enjoys the trips.


Ellie (left) and Lucy in October 2012.  They were resting before we started back  home. They had spent a great deal of time running around in a circle and jumping over a fallen log.




 Tomorrow is Halloween.  It's a big holiday and a big festival here in Brevard.  We are in Transylvania County after all.  The local newspaper prints a special vampire banner to replace its usual header.  We will go down tomorrow to watch the festivities.  We have no trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood anymore.  The only ones we ever had were the grandsons of a neighbor.  Alas, they have outgrown trick or treat.  Of course I must buy some Halloween candy just in case someone might come by.  (That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.)


Today's quote is from Mark Twain:
"Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody."

Halloween is the perfect time to bring out your dark side.

I loved this little saying the first time I heard it.
And I still do.



HAVE A SAFE AND WONDERFUL HALLOWEEN
AND A GREAT WEEK AHEAD





Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Another Year Has Passed and We Still Remember

Once again I will reprise this story about two marvelous people.  It tells not only about love and how to live your life, but how much evil exists in our world. 


They met on a blind date and took an instant liking to each other. Much of their courtship consisted of hiking in the mountains of western North Carolina. She was three years his senior, a fact that brought many laughs in years to come. They were married in 1949.

He became a lawyer. A lover of animal, she became a veterinarian, rather unusual for her time. Her continued quest for knowledge led her to take courses in forestry, ichthyology, and she loved and studied all things living. She would later give up her veterinary practice to take college-level science courses full time.

They lived in Montana and in New York, but their passion was for western North Carolina where they always intended to retire. The couple were true lovers of the outdoors. When their children grew up they traveled extensively, hiking some of the most rugged mountains in the world. They always stayed in hostels or inexpensive lodging because, as he said, "You meet so many more interesting people that way."

When they were in their 50s he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. She joined him for parts of the hike and they celebrated with champagne at the end of the trail. Other hikers were delighted with her ability to identify every tree, every bush, and every flower along the trail.

In 1990 John and Irene Bryant moved to the North Carolina mountains they loved so much.


Both photographs from the Transylvania Times



She was an avid gardener and an award-winning quilter. Their passion was hiking, especially the lesser known trails in Pisgah National Forest. They were stewards of the land, purchasing land in their community and donating it to be a nature preserve.

After 58 years of marriage they were deeply committed to one another. The continued to hike together...she in her 80s and he almost 80. They hiked at least once a week, often on the trails of nearby State and National forests.

Their last Christmas card.





On October 21, 2007 they went for a hike in Pisgah National Forest. Their son who lived out of State was concerned when he didn't hear from them. He contacted neighbors who also were concerned that they had not returned. The son called the local police.

The car was found near a trail head here in Transylvania County. On November 9, 2007, Irene's body was found near the trail, not buried but covered with leaves. Telephone records showed that she had made a "911" call from her cell phone on October 21 but the signal was insufficient to relay beyond the tower. Their bank card was used in nearby Tennessee.

Irene Bryant had died of blunt force trauma to the head. Her husband John was still missing.  One wonders if she died immediately, or if she was aware her husband was taken.  Certainly John knew that his wife was left to die along the roadside.

In February 2008 the remains of John Bryant were discovered near a forest service road in upstate Georgia. He had been shot in the head.

Evidence linked the senseless killing of this wonderful and devoted couple to Gary Michael Hilton, although he was not immediately charged.  Following the deaths of Irene and John Bryant,  Hilton pleaded guilty to an equally senseless murder of 24-year-old Meredith Emerson in Georgia. Under the terms of a plea bargain he was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years.  He was tried in Florida for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap, a 46-year-old nurse.  He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.  Hilton is considered a serial killer, having murdered at least four people in three different states.

Hilton was extradited to Federal court in Asheville, NC and charged with murder, robbery, and kidnapping in the cases of John and Irene Bryant. He initially pleaded not guilty but in March, 2012 he changed his plea to guilty.  He was sentenced in Federal court to four additional life sentences for kidnapping and murder.  Hilton, now 68 years old is on death row in Florida.

But this post is not about Gary Michael Hilton. It's not even about justice. There is no justice here. There can be no justice for such heinous actions. This post is about two of my heroes...John and Irene Bryant.

They left behind a legacy of love. Love for each other, their children, their fellow man, and the future. Love of nature, love of the outdoors, and love of these wonderful North Carolina mountains. They are together once again and after eight years we still grieve for them. They left the world better than they found it. Let's all take a lesson from John and Irene Bryant. Live your life to the fullest and give back to nature and to humankind.

Friday, October 23, 2015

We Love Lucy


We are enjoying some marvelous sunny weather and we are out as often as possible.  And we have so many great places to go.  We took Lucy for a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  While she enjoyed the ride and the short stops, she didn't seem to notice the gorgeous views of the mountains.

No matter how often we drive up there, we stand in awe at the grandeur.  We gawk more like tourists than people who live here in the mountains.  (You might want to click on the photographs to appreciate the light and beauty.)


Lucy ignored the clouds casting their shadows on the colorful mountains.
She was too busy looking for people.






She didn't notice Cold Mountain in sunlight and shadow.





 She doesn't mind being on lead, but she does not like standing still.




 Come on, Dad.  I'm ready to go meet some folks who will likely pet me.
Most everyone does.




 It was a tiring day so she snuggled with her pillow to snooze in the sun.

So many people of our planet are still in turmoil; fearful, hungry and afraid.  It isn't enough, but we try to do our little part to help them.  And we wish fervently for peace.  Please join me and do whatever you can to help those less fortunate.

Today's quote is from Martin Luther King, Jr.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists
Who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood. 



HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND, EVERYONE!