Friday, October 30, 2009

Fridays are Golden

We left the Golden Girls confused last Friday. Their beds had been taken outside. Lucy was standing bewildered and Ellie had high-tailed it to her crate...the place she can count on for safety and security.

Very soon my husband came downstairs carrying something of interest. Two very curious dogs examined it.

My husband left the room again.
Lucy said, "I'll bet there's going to be another one!"

Sure enough, here came another new dog bed.

You may have noticed that the beds have names on them. I thought this was foolish, but imagine my surprise when Lucy immediately determined that her bed was the one that said, "Lucy." My husband insisted she knew how to read, but I think she just wanted the first one. After all, she deserves to be first in line.

Within 30 seconds and one quick turnaround, Lucy snuggled into the plush new bed.

She immediately fell asleep. "Finally! A bed befitting my status as Princess."

Ellie was typically much more cautious. She seemed a bit unsure that this was really hers. My husband said that unlike Lucy, Ellie couldn't read her name.

Ellie settled in the bed, but looked a bit uncomfortable.
"This is too much like furniture. Are you sure it's all right for me to be lying here?"

Ellie quickly made herself comfortable. In no time at all, Lucy got out of her bed to share Ellie's bed with her. There is a lot of room so she isn't using Ellie for a pillow.

"Thank goodness that's over," says Ellie.

"Cool it, Elllie. There's always the upstairs bed we can share. You are almost as soft as my new bed."

The wind and rain have played havoc on the leaves and this morning is chilly with heavy fog. October is ending. It will be a rough Sunday for the girls since their own clocks do not reset and they will not be happy that dinnertime will be a little later. November arrives on Sunday if you can believe it. As so many wonderful people sang Sandy Denny's lovely song, "Who knows where the time goes?" It surely does fly. (Listen to North Carolina's own Nina Simone, or Sandy Denny, or Eva Cassidy, or Judy Collins sing this beautiful song. So sad that of the four, only Judy Collins remains with us.)
Have a wonderful weekend. Pause to count your blessings in life and think of those less fortunate.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hold My Chicken Leg While I Burn This Bible

No Trick-or-Treating for these folks. At 7:00 on Halloween night members of tiny Amazing Grace Baptist Church in nearby Canton, North Carolina, will gather to perform an ancient (and illegal) ritual. You may have heard about them. They certainly have tried to out-Gosselin the Gosselins in attracting the media. Why, you might ask, are the Associated Press, national newspapers and television networks, and even the UK Telegraph, so interested in this little pastor and this little church?

Some call it the "Bonfire of the Profanities." Pastor Marc announced a burning of Bibles that are not the King James Version (KJV). He maintains that the KJV is the true word of God and that all other translations of the Bible are satanic. During the past month Pastor Marc and his followers have been gathering the "satanic" versions of the scripture along with sermons, books, and music they consider satanic as well. Writings include those by Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, the Pope. It might seem a bit strange to include Billy Graham since he is a very popular evangelical preacher from the NC mountains. However, he has occasionally used bibles that were not the KJV so his words have lost their Christian context. Contemporary Christian music will be added to the fire.

A scripture reference always provides the explanation for the actions. In this case, the church uses Acts 19:18-20 to justify their Bible burning. "And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."

This photograph of the church is taken from their Web site:

This photograph is Pastor Marc in an interview with an AP reporter.

It is of note that this Bible burning celebration will include a fried chicken dinner with "all the fixin's." The visual of tossing a Bible into the fire while holding on to a piece of fried chicken is almost too much, isn't it?
---------------The bonfire is NOT open to the public. Only church members and others invited by the Pastor will be allowed to attend. Anyone else will be considered trespassing.
---------------While this post is written tongue-in-cheek, there is a serious part of me that is very frightened to be sharing my world with people who so fervently believe only they are correct.
---------------I feel the need to clarify a couple of things. For the most part, the citizens of Canton are just like the citizens of every other little mountain town. Secondly, this "Baptist" church is not a part of any other group of Baptist is yet another little independent church that names itself baptist. Anyone can start a baptist church around here...just find a meeting place, a preacher, and a couple of families and you have your own baptist church. Oh, you'll also need a collection plate.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Bad News About the Slide

As the NC Department of Transportation reviews the major landslide across Interstate 40 the stabilization of the mountain and clearing of the debis seems more major than first reported. It now seems likely that this section of I40, a few miles from the NC/TN border is likely to remain completely closed for three months. And that is assuming good weather.

Two methods are being considered by the DOT. A helicopter (or possibly a crane) would be used to deliver hand drilling equipment to the top which would then be used to bore holes for dynamite blasting. The other method involves building a secondary road to the top of the area to allow of bringing heavy equipment. The slide must be stabilized from the top down.

Aerial view of the slide from Asheville Citizen-Times

West to east view - photo from Asheville Citizen-Times

Direct view - photo from the Asheville Citizen-Times

Why is this rock slide deserving of so much attention? Because this section of I40 sees about 25,000 vehicles every day with about half of them being commercial trucks traveling to and from the southeast to the midwest. There is no other Interstate to use as an alternative.
---------------Why am I writing this? To encourage the readers who follow this blog not to change their plans to visit western NC during the next several months. All you need to do is to plan a little extra time to allow for the detours. You will be rewarded with more views of our lovely mountains and small towns. And you will still reach your destination of ski resorts, the Biltmore House, the waterfalls, and all the other wonderful attractions we offer.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Beach in the Fall Part Three

While very disappointed with the excessive building along the coast of the Outer Banks, we were delighted to find that the Cape Hatteras National Seashore still provides miles of unspoiled beaches and marshes to explore. It is a place of wonder and beauty.

Here are some shots during respites from the rain.

The ocean attracts me like a magnet no matter what the weather. I think part of it is the ever-changing nature. While our mountains do indeed change their garb it is a slower process. The sea changes from minute to minute and I love it.

I was delighted and surprised to find (of all things) a persimmon tree. I recall gathering persimmons (or 'simmons as my grammy called them) and helping Grammy make persimmon bread and persimmon puddings. Every single year my brother would dare (I mean D-Double-Dog Dare) me to bite into one that wasn't quite ripe. And yes, every single year I did it knowing full well it would "turn your mouth inside out." (Hey, you can't just walk away from a D-Double-Dog-Dare, now can you?)

A sunrise on the ocean was a rare occurrence during our visit. The sky is red and predictably we had more rain that day.

Our trip to the Outer Banks was a good one, despite our disappointment in the over-developed shore and the rain. The place holds very special memories of earlier times and helps to ground us and to remember where we came from. Our next beach trip will more likely be to the Georgia Golden Isles, another special place.

Life was made more difficult for the leaf lookers (peepers) and everyone else when a major rockslide closed all lanes of Interstate 40, the major artery from western NC to the north. The landslide is in neighboring Haywood County just a few miles from the Tennessee border. All lanes will be closed for several days (to several weeks) until the slide is stabilized. After that the traffic will likely be re-routed on the east-bound lanes with one lane of traffic in each direction (if we're lucky). Makes travel much more difficult since there is hardly a reasonable detour.

Photograph from the Asheville Citizen-Times

The lookers are already struggling with a Blue Ridge Parkway closure. An unstable area has closed the BRP between Asheville and Mt. Pisgah at mile markers 399.7-401.1. This is a heavily traveled area in the fall and will likely be closed for months.
I hope your Monday starts on a good note and signals a good week for you no matter what you will be doing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fridays are Golden

The Golden Girls have complained recently about the quality (or lack of quality) of their beds in the den. The other week my husband and I noticed the beds are getting a bit ratty. With each washing of the covering, the foam inside is a little more lumpy. Perhaps it is time to get the girls new beds.

On the other hand...they certainly don't seem to have any trouble at all sleeping in these as this picture of Lucy suggests.

But you don't know how much circling and pawing I had to do to finally get to sleep. And look how my head is hanging over the side, and my paw as well.

Ellie is sound asleep in her bed as well.

Yes, Mom. I may be asleep but I'm not all that comfortable. These bolsters don't hold up all that well.

Imagine their surprise the other afternoon when my husband picked up both beds to take them outside.

Lucy immediately follows him and almost grabbed one of them.
Whoa Dad. What are you doing?

Both dogs are keenly interested in what is going on. The dogs don't like change. They don't even like it when the covers are being washed, or when the beds are moved for vacuuming. And now their beds are being dragged out right in front of them.

Lucy looks dismayed to see the beds outside on the steps.
I don't get it. Are we going somewhere? We never take these old beds with us.

Ellie takes her typical defensive action.
This is too scary for me. I'm going to get in my crate.

My husband has gone up the stairs and Lucy stares up there in wonderment.

Dad! Have you lost it? You left our beds outside!

Well, girls. Remember that really big package we got before went on vacation? And you were really interested in it?

And soon another identical one arrived.
The tag on the box may give you a clue about the contents.

After a beautiful sunny week, it is raining and windy here today. The trees are swaying and the leaves are falling in huge numbers. The birds are flocking to the feeders this morning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Beach in the Fall Part Two

Neither my husband or I were sufficiently fortunate to be born into wealthy families. We married when my husband was an intern back in the days when interns were paid very little. I made more money as an RN than he did. We each brought student loans and car payments to the marriage.

Every year we took our vacation in the off season. Why? As the Christmas Spirit told Scrooge, "Because it's all they can afford." We loved the quiet and charming coastal towns of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Rodanthe and Ocracoke. We stayed in one of the few motels and spent the week on the beach. We drove our Jeep on the sand of the National Seashore and spent the days there, my husband fishing and I reading or walking along the shore. Didn't cost a thing except the drinks and sandwiches we brought with us. It was indeed a wonderful time.

We had not been to the Outer Banks since 1985. We expected to find major changes and we definitely did. Houses dot every inch of ocean-front, even in places I recall to be inlets so many years ago (and will no doubt be inlets again some day). We did indeed find the motel where we stayed, but the nearby fishing pier was lost during Hurricane Isabel. Since it is owned by the State, it is being rebuilt. Private fishing piers lost through hurricanes cannot be rebuilt.

When we last visited, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was on the ocean itself and already in danger of being swallowed up by the sea. It has since been moved further inland. (You should see a video of the move. Absolutely incredible!)

It was dark and raining when we visited the lighthouse on this trip. It seemed quite odd that it is no longer sitting on the shore.

This is the Bonner Bridge, a two-and-a-half mile long structure that rises and curves and crosses Oregon Inlet to the National Seashore. Built in 1963, the bridge is old and constantly being repaired. It's scary as the dickens, but you have to cross over it to get to the peaceful and beautiful pristine seashore.

We did not have the best weather during our week. This particular morning showed two positive signs; 1) the sun rose behind the clouds, and 2) the sky was not red.

Sure enough! Sun came out and we had a sunny day...the only one of the week.
We drove up to the Currituck Lighthouse which is in such a lovely setting.

The weather resumed its cloudy, scattered showers pattern the day we went to Ocracoke. The island can be reached only by ferry. My husband took this photograph of the other ferry crossing in the opposite direction.

This is the Ocracoke Lighthouse. Why is it that people are absolutely determined to walk right in front of your camera?

I was dismayed to find the Ocracoke Village has really lost a lot of its charm. Everything is geared to the tourists and there are "tourist trap" type shops everywhere.

I couldn't help stopping to photograph this market sign in Rodanthe. I'm not at all certain what the risky business might be...the start-up of a market, or the chances you take in buying their fish.

If I sound a bit bitter about the massive construction on the shores of the Outer Banks, it's because I am. There hasn't been a major direct hurricane strike in quite some time and folks appear to have forgotten what the seas can do. A direct hit will cut new inlets and wipe out a lot of the houses.
Oh, but they do have insurance which I help to underwrite. Yep, my homeowner's insurance is more costly because I help share the cost of insurance for the houses on the beach.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Beach in the Fall

We're back from our vacation to the Outer Banks. Amazed at the extent of development in the area, we were pleased to find that the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge still provide a welcome respite from the townhouses along the coast.

The weather was chilly, rainy and cloudy all week with little breaks of sunshine. Not the greatest weather for taking photographs.

Our first trip was to the Bodie Lighthouse. The lighthouse is 156 feet tall with a Fresnel 1st Order Lens. A new wildlife viewing area was opened in September so we were able to walk over the marsh surrounding the lighthouse.

This view is from the walkway over the marsh.

I'm terrible at identifying shore birds. Here are few we observed:

A Pelican diving into the sound.

You might ask, "Why on earth would you go to the beach in mid-October?" The answer is quite simple as this photograph indicates.

The people are gone for the most part.

So we have to beach to ourselves and our friends the birds. And the weather is usually better than it was while we were there this time.

I must say, no matter what a vacation is like, it's always nice to be home, hugging the dogs you missed so much and sleeping in your own bed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fridays are Golden

You might be thinking, "Why is she starting 'Golden Friday' with books?" The answer is simple. I'M GOING ON VACATION!!! I love to read, and back in the days when I was working full time (and more), I treasured the opportunity to read books on vacation. Old habits die hard, so I have two books I'll take on vacation. I'm taking only two books because I have some knitting projects to work on as well. Too bad I cannot read or knit in the car or I would get a lot done during our 10-hour drive.

I always read about fifty pages of each book just to make certain it will hold my interest and will be "worthy" of being a vacation book. This almost backfired when I started reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I read my fifty pages and couldn't stop! I've read almost half the book already and I can definitely recommend this as a really good read. This second book by Kate Morton is very different from The House at Riverton and while I thoroughly enjoyed that book, this one is far more entertaining. In fact, it's difficult to believe the two books were written by the same author (although both of them are good). [Thanks dear daughter, for bringing it to my attention. You always know what I will like.]

The other book I'm taking is Dan Brown's new book. While it won't be great literature, it will certainly hold my interest and that's what a vacation book is all about.

Unfortunately, we won't be taking the Golden Girls with us. They will be well-cared for and have a good time at "camp" while we are gone. On our last sunny day, we took them to one of their favorite places...Big Hill Cemetery. Ordinarily they run in the forest, but Big Hill has open grassy areas and they just love sprinting there.
Ellie leads the way and Lucy follows.

Lucy looks as if she has Dumbo ears in this one. She was flying!

Ellie trots along enjoying the leaf-covered grass.

Lucy is slowing down, but not stopping.

Ellie sits down to catch her breath.

Meanwhile, Lucy keeps going.

Finally, we make them sit for awhile to rest. They are watching my husband who has just told them to sit.

Smile if you're happy, girls.

The condo we're renting has Internet access so I will be checking your blogs. (Well, after I finish reading The Forgotten Garden.). I won't be posting at all next week. It's vacation after all.