Friday, October 31, 2008

Fridays are Golden

Visitors to our door are greeted by our witch flying overhead. To them and to all of you...HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

This week we took the Golden Girls to Lake Wanteska, another lake in our community. They loved running through the grass over the dam. As always, they started out at breakneck speed.

After a rather prolonged sprint, both dogs slowed down and meandered through the leaves.
They loved the new smells at the water's edge.

Ellie thought this picture made her look fat and unkempt. The girls had a wrestling match and somehow Ellie's ears always end up wet. Hmm, have any idea how that happens, Lucy?
Lucy sits briefly. Then she takes off again.

After a long play period, both girls are ready to head home.
This is the last Friday in October. We go back on Standard Time, so don't forget to change your clocks (and smoke detector batteries). Election Day is Tuesday, so make time to vote if you haven't already done so.
And above all, have a safe and fun weekend, doing some of the things your love.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Autumn Color Come to the 'Hood

Mountain color comes first to the higher elevations. As the days progress, the color creeps down the mountains. While we love driving to higher elevations to see the colors there, we are especially delighted when the color comes to our neighborhood.

Our house is in the woods and we are a short distance (but about a million dollars) away from the gorgeous views of the mountains. If we go up to the third floor windows and stand on tiptoe, we have a long range view. On the other hand, a short walk takes us to a lovely lake, and a little further from our house to see some of the most lovely mountains you can imagine.

These photographs were taken not far from our house. I love the way the evening sun brings light to some areas while the others are shaded. I cannot imagine living anywhere else in the world. You may want to click to enlarge to appreciate the color.

It has turned quite cold here and the entire South is in the deep freeze. We had a few snowflakes yesterday, but nothing like the Northeast snowstorm. The mornings are really crisp, and the sun warms us up to 50 during the day. Needless to say, our dogs just love the fall weather. This wonderful weather and autumn beauty improve the mood. I wish I could share it all with you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Treat Yourself

Did you know:

Influenza is a very serious contagious disease? And that many strains of the flu can be prevented with vaccination?

On average, every year in the United States more than two hundred thousand people are hospitalized from complications of the flu. More than 20,000 of them are children under the age of five. On average, thirty-six thousand people in the United States die from influenza every year.

If you haven't gotten a flu shot yet, it's not too late. You do not need a physician's order and there are multiple flu-shot clinics held everywhere. Most drug stores also offer flu shots. [Be sure to check with your physician if you have any concerns about whether you should be vaccinated.] There are very few complications from the vaccine, and so many reasons to get your flu shot.

So treat yourself, your family, and everyone with whom you come in contact. And get your flu shot. It's a no-brainer!

( I do not know the origin of this photograph. It was sent to me by a friend. Could have been any number of people in my area.)

When you get your flu shot, you might want to think about going to one of the "early voting" stations in your area and cast your ballot. Can you believe Election Day is only a week away?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Finally the Clouds Brought Rain

We have been fooled so often before. Storm clouds would gather, perhaps with thunder and lightning, only to travel on without giving us any rain. This time however, Mother Nature did not trick us, but brought us a welcome treat of two-and-a-half inches of rain.

These shots were taken in my neighborhood in the late evening just before the rains came down. What a welcome drink for the thirsty trees.

You can be assured that nobody in our area complained about the rain. Well, someone probably did. There's just no pleasing everyone.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


The Halloweenfest is the biggest festival in town. That shouldn't be much of a surprise. After all, we are the County Seat of Transylvania County.

Saturday morning was drizzly and damp, but that didn't mar the festivities. We drove down early to see all the crafts and listen to the music.

This is Main Street, and booths line both sides of the street, as well as the intersecting Broad Street.


This is Courthouse Square. We have lived here two years and both my husband and I have been called for jury duty here at the Courthouse.

You don't believe cigarettes are addictive? Even the black cat has to take a smoke break.

The owner of a shop called Hunters and Gatherers is dressed up for the occasion. She is dressed as a hunter, in case you didn't figure it out.

A local bakery had cookies for the children to decorate. Sometimes the parents were far more interested than the children.

We have a very large (and very fun) toy store on the Square. O.P. Taylor's has anything you or your child could desire.

A glace at the political booths gives a lot of insight into the politics of Transylvania County.

The Republican Headquarters was crowded with visitors all day. Interestingly enough, far more of the advertising was for govenor and Senator, with little mention of the Presidential race.

The Democratic Headquarters had far fewer visitors.
The two booths were directly across the street from one another. I was very pleased to see that there was no shouting, or disruptive behavior from the visitors to either booth.

Children lined up for the Old Time Fiddler's Contest on the Courthouse Square.

This little girl (who looked to be about seven) played a rousing "Orange Blossom Special" much to the delight of the crowds gathered to listen.

The "Little Blue Choo-Choo" gave rides through the streets. Here the engineer takes a little coffee break while an interested youngster checks out the train.
We did not stay around for the biggest event...the costume contest and parade. Last year there were 400 children who marched in the parade. We had a lot of fun and bought a beautiful bowl made from a cherry burl. We enjoyed chatting with the folks who were there and watching the children having so much fun. Just as we were leaving, the sun burst through the clouds and the day was perfect. We were glad the weather changed so the children could enjoy all the free activities planned for them. There are so many joys in living in a small town.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Stay of Execution for Davis

As regular readers know, I am deeply concerned about the scheduled execution of Troy Davis. Today, the federal appeals court of Atlanta issued a stay of execution (the execution was scheduled for Monday October 27) and instructed the Department of Corrections not to proceed. The stay is conditional, but will allow attorneys for Davis to meet the requirements to persue another round of appeals. Read more in the Atlanta Journal/Constitution at

Fridays are Golden

Today is rainy, foggy and would be dreary if we weren't so glad to see the rain. is a golden Friday. It is especially golden because it is our daughter's birthday.

Our daughter still lives in Wisconsin and after many years of having her nearby, we really miss her. She is such a wonderful daughter, and now a very good friend as well. The Golden Girls miss her too, especially Ellie with whom she has a special bond. When she comes to visit, Ellie is never far from her side.

And so...from Mom, Dad, Ellie and Lucy...HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR DAUGHTER!!!

We try to take the dogs to a new place every week. This week, we took them to a community cemetery. Big Hill Cemetery is in the middle of nowhere. There is not a church nearby and the cemetery, while still in use, is very old. The older section has many graves marked only with stones.

The headstone with the earliest date is that of Vaden Loftis who died in 1851 at the surprisingly old age of 85.

Seeing such old graves made me ponder about the lives of these people. How difficult life must have been for them here in the rugged and isolated mountains.
-----The girls had no thoughts about the people lying here. They were intent upon running at breakneck speed and smelling all the new smells around.

It was a beautiful fall day, and the trees were so colorful. What a nice place to have as your final resting place on earth.

The girls stopped for a moment. This is a shot of my husband's shadow as he takes a picture of Ellie and Lucy. You can tell from the smiles that they are having a great time.

When we came home, the girls were exhausted. They drank some water and then settled in for a snooze.

I hope you are having a good Friday and that the weekend will bring lots of joy. Stay safe and happy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Red Bird in a Red Tree

The bird I posted yesterday is a Black-throated Blue Warbler! Thanks to Laura and Kathi, part of the Cape May flock! (I just might have to consider going next year.) I also sent the picture to a local bird expert. He says that except for a short while during migration, it is a pretty rare sighting around here. He's never heard of one seen in a hanging basket near a house. These warblers are more common in the higher elevations of Western NC and are year-round residents above 4,000 feet.

I must admit I felt a bit foolish when I looked at yesterday's post. I said something to the effect that if I relied on my bird guides, I would call it a Black-throated Blue Warbler. IF I RELIED ON MY BIRD GUIDES? Isn't what they are for?

On to the red bird in a red tree. We do not try to attract Cardinals, much to my husband's dismay. I have heard too many scary stories about crazy Cardinals challenging a reflection non-stop for days and days. But I do love them, and was delighted to find one in a nearby tree. The Cardinal and the leaves on the tree were both red and I wasn't at all sure I would be able to focus well enough to get a shot. But I gave it a try and here is the result:

Later that same afternoon, I saw another Cardinal, this one posing on a bare limb. He wanted to come to the bird feeder, but a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak would have none of that. She was willing to share with goldfinches, titmice, chickadees, and nuthatches, but she would not allow the Cardinal anywhere near the feeder.

I'm just as glad the Cardinal was kept away. While I love these birds and enjoy watching them, I do have nightmares about bloody prints all over the place with one of those crazed birds attacking his reflection.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Name This Bird

No, this is not a quiz. I need help identifying this bird. He rested briefly in one of our hanging baskets and I got only one photograph of him. At first glance I thought he was a Junco, but he was not as large as a Junco and the black bill rules that out as well.

My next thought was an American Redstart, but he was a little larger than a Redstart and had no yellow or orange.

I apologize for the poor quality of this shot, the only one I got. (You can click to enlarge.) I don't have a photo-editing program, so I can't bring out any specific qualities. The lower part of the head was more black, as were the areas under the wings. The back was less black...almost a dark blue.

If I rely solely on bird books, I would call this a Black-throated Blue Warbler. I've never actually seen one, and wasn't aware they would be found in Western North Carolina.

I would appreciate any help you may give in helping identify this bird for me. He was quite charming and I was delighted to see him. The photograph was taken three days ago, and there's been no further sighting.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Grosbeak Guys are Still Here

Remember my lament when the first female Rose-breasted Grosbeak arrived? That was more than a week ago and the males are still around, although fewer in number.

Doesn't he look so handsome sitting there?

In an instant, he scratches and takes on the appearance of an entirely different bird!

I have no idea what this goofy little guy is thinking. He certainly can't eat from the thistle feeder. Perhaps he's simply taking a break.

I have a feeling the Grosbeak Guys will be moving on very shortly. It has been a pleasure having their company for a while.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Alas, The Market is Closed

One of the most anticipated days in the spring is the re-opening of the Whistle Stop Market. Only a mile from our house, the Whistle Stop offers fresh local produce all summer and most of the fall. Last weekend, the market closed for the winter.

Early every morning, local farmers pick vegetables and gather fresh eggs and bring them to the market.

No one seems to know why the market is named Whistle Stop. There never has been a train anywhere near the area. That was the name of the market when the current owners bought it, and that is the name it stayed.

In the fall, the main attraction is an extensive display of North Carolina apples.

There are many varieties, one for each person's taste or purpose.
Onions, potatoes, squash, and all seasonal vegetables are available. And they are all fresh and delicious. Boiled peanuts are very popular here. I must admit, I have never tried them. Fresh berries, peaches, plums and all local fruits are available in season. The market sells many varieties of corn all summer long, and in the fall, all sorts of nuts are available.
By far, the most popular summer items are tomatoes. I never knew there were so many varieties and we have tried most of them. Fresh tomatoes and cucumber with a little oil and vinegar make up our salads for most of the summer.
Inside the market are preserves, jams, jellies, honey (real Sourwood honey), pickles and relishes. Local baked goods are also available.
Like most local markets, the Whistle Stop sells antique kitchen ware.
Seasonal decorative items are always for sale. I took these photographs on closing day, so the pumpkins, gourds, dried corn, etc., predominated.
So we will now have to subsist on "store-bought" tomatoes and vegetables. But we know that, come the spring, the Whistle Stop will once again supply us with the freshest, most delicious vegetables that western North Carolina has to offer.