Friday, October 29, 2010

Fridays are Golden

With apologies to Longfellow:  ...when the light is beginning to lower, comes a pause  in the day's occupations that is known as the doggies hour.

Our dogs eat at the same time every afternoon.  About fifteen minutes before that time, both of them stick like glue to my husband.  We wondered how they could possibly know the time.  Then we realized they didn't know the time, but were taking cues from our behavior.  Almost every afternoon, my husband and I sit and watch "Law and Order" reruns.  [OK, so we don't have a life!]  It occurred to us that the dogs began to recognize that when both of us were sitting together in the afternoon, supper would soon follow.  I do think they recognize the "Law and Order" theme music, and I know they understand when the commercials come on.

Lucy lies sleeping, knowing that Ellie is keeping watch right underfoot.

The instant my husband starts to put on his shoes, both dogs come alive, watching him eagerly.

Ellie stands right by his side as if to remind him that it is dinnertime.

Lucy, on the other hand, flies down the stairs to wait for them.

Each dog gets a cup of food.  Lucy always jumps on the table to watch, while Ellie sticks next to the food bin.

Ellie eats like a normal, proper dog.

Lucy has a special food dish, designed to slow down the manner in which she gulps her food.  (The gulping often causes her GI discomfort.)  She had become so expert at wrapping her tongue around the nubs of the dish that we still have to feed her the one cup of food in three portions.  Otherwise she will still eat too fast.

She has a very skilled tongue and learned to conquer the obstacles too quickly.

She has to sit and wait for another third of her portion.

The duration of the entire session is less than five minutes.  But the new dish is working.  Lucy has not had any GI problems since we started using it.  Both dogs will have a little adjustment to do when we return to Standard Time.

This weekend is very special here in town.  After all, we are in Transylvania County and pull all stops when it comes to celebrating Halloween.

Whatever you plan to do, please have a safe and happy weekend.  If you haven't already voted early, don't forget to vote.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

OK, We're Tacky Too

I mentioned that my neighbor puts a smiley-face pumpkin cut out (a LARGE one) by her mailbox every year and I think it is tacky.

I must admit she is not the only tacky person around.  Here are my two favorite tacky Halloween decorations.  But at least we keep them in our own house and not outside.

Not just a lighted ghost.  This beauty is a lava lamp.  When the light heats up the liquid, tiny swirls of goop move around.

And this scarecrow has been around for years.

Not just any scarecrow.  He's fiber optic.

He casts an eery glow when the room is darkened.

The next two photographs show just how tacky I am.  They were taken immediately after Monday night's game and are from the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel.  They have become my favorite photographs of Brett Favre.

Oh, yeah, Brett.  So sorry it was your passing that cost the Vikings the game.

No looking up at the Packer fans this time, huh?

I wouldn't be so hard on Favre if I hadn't watched his arrogant happy dance when he mistakenly thought he had thrown the game-winning touchdown pass.

We still have his personally autographed poster hanging in my husband's study.  However we give it a somewhat different salute than we used to.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Our Daughter

Yesterday was my daughter's birthday.  She was such a delightful baby and I thought motherhood was just grand.  The most adaptable infant I ever knew, she was willing to eat early or eat late.  If we needed to be up early, she would go to sleep early.  She hardly ever fussed and whined about anything.

Here she is two days old and already bored with us.

There was never a time when she didn't love books.

And she was so happy about every little thing.  All presents on Christmas or birthday were greeted with equal levels of enthusiasm and a big smile.

She loved the beach and could amuse herself there for hours on end.

Easy going and even tempered, she was also surprisingly independent.  She seemed always to assess each new situation and determine what she needed to do to adjust to it.  On her first day of kindergarten she met the teachers and walked around the room.  [My first born...going to school.]  After a few minutes she came over to me and gently touched my arm.  I leaned down and she whispered to me, "I think it's time for the mothers to go home now."

She didn't lose her smile even when her mouth was full of metal.

And the years of torture in braces paid off.  Here she is in high school.

There comes a time when your daughter is all grown up and independent.  Our daughter is a very loving and caring adult.  Isn't it nice to make the transition from parent to friend?  And my daughter is definitely my friend.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Fridays are Golden

We have only two dogs.  Yet sometimes it seems there are dogs everywhere you step.  They instinctively know how to be underfoot.  Interestingly enough, they are not always together in the house.  Lucy will always be where the people are.  Sometimes Ellie will just go lie in her crate.  I often wonder if that's the only way she can get away from Lucy who always wants to share Ellie's space.  Perhaps, like me, Ellie needs a certain amount of time and space for herself.

Lucy loves to use Ellie as a pillow, sometimes even a sofa.

I'm not sure if this is an act of affection, or if Ellie is so squnched she has no other place to put her leg.

Ellie has never gone to lie in the same bed as Lucy.  But never once has she snarled or otherwise made Lucy feel unwelcome to share her space.  Lucy has been known to fall asleep, her head on Ellie's back and growl if Ellie suddenly gets up.

I often wonder how people without pets ever manage to get away from the worries of life.  So often I will sit or lie on the floor with the dogs and before long I feel better.  Their heads on my knees, so happy to be with me helps me put life in perspective.

George Bird Evans had a quote about dogs that I love:
I think we are drawn to dogs because they are uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren't certain we knew better.  They fight for honor, make love with no moral restraint, and they do not for all their marvelous instincts appear to know about death.  Being such wonderfully uncomplicated beings, they need us to do their worrying.

I do worry a lot.  About our country, about our planet, and most especially about the growing intolerance that abounds.  I often wish I were more like my dogs.  I'm thankful that my time with them takes me away from my worries.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nature's Shadow Puppet

Remember when you first learned to make animal shadows by shaping your hands on front of a light?  I wasn't very good at it, so a rabbit and a dog were about all I could do.  My favorite practice time was during church.  When I was kneeling and trying to look reverent, I was actually making shadow animals on the pew in front of me.

In nearby Jackson County, Nature makes her own shadow puppet for a brief time every fall.  On clear evenings, from mid-October through early November there is a remarkable shadow across the mountains between 5:30 and 6:00.  As the sun is creeping across Whiteside Mountain (here) near Cashiers it casts an amazing shadow on the nearby mountains.  Called the "Shadow of the Bear," the form looks just like a bear ready to go into hibernation.  I have never driven over to see the shadow in person, but I am totally awed by the photographs.

This photograph from the Transylvania Times - Jerry Jaynes

This photograph from the Asheville Citizen-Times

What an amazing sight.  We've often driven by this very site but never at the right time to see the shadow.  Someone asked if I thought the mountaintop would look like a bear if viewed from the shadow itself.  I suspect the mountaintop would no more resemble a bear than my hands would resemble the rabbits I made in church.  And that's what adds to the magic.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Little Muted This Year

Some people seem naturally optimistic.  They enjoy the now and appreciate what they have.  Other people seem naturally pessimistic.  Whatever they could have been better or bigger.  When something good happens they tend to think, "well, it could have been more."  My mother had a phrase for such people.  I often heard her say of someone, "He wouldn't be happy sitting at the feet of Jesus!"

This year's leaf color is not as spectacular as usual.  I hear people complaining all the time about it.  And yet, how can you look at these majestic mountains and not be filled with awe?  I want to scream at these people to open their eyes and appreciate the beauty rather than lamenting how much better it could be.

All the photographs are from overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  You may need to click and enlarge them.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fridays are Golden

Our Lucy can sleep in almost any position.  We have seen her fall asleep using all sorts of items for pillows, even the hard stone hearth.  Every now and then she puts here entire head under a chair leaving a headless body outside.

I have no idea what makes this comfortable for her.

How often I have wished I could sleep like this.  She seems totally relaxed.

And peaceful

We took another drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday looking for color.

We found some.

We are in the midst of autumn.  The leaves are not at peak but still beautiful.  We're having sunny days and cold nights and are totally enjoying the season.  In the words of Longfellow, "O what a glory doth this world put on..."

I hope that you are enjoying the glory around you.  Slow down a bit and embrace the season.  Do something nice for someone else.  And then do something nice for yourself.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Worth a Thousand Words but NOT Your Life

Waterfalls abound in our county.  Some are viewed only after a rigorous hike.  There are a few that do not require any hiking at all.  One of those is Looking Glass Falls.  Easily accessible from a parking area, it is one of the most visited waterfalls in the county.

It should seem so obvious that waterfalls are dangerous.  The rocks above the falls are quite slick and often mossy and the current is swift above the falls.  There are signs and fences near all of the falls warning people NOT to climb near the top of the falls.  Every year people die after disregarding the signs.

A local newpaper columnist happened to be visiting Looking Glass Falls last week and took the following photograph.  The man in this photograph is in an extrememly dangerous area.  In order to arrive there he has had to climb over two fences and pass by numerous warning signs.  Yet there he stands.  To take a photograph.  One slip, one misguided step on the wet slippery surface and he will be over the falls to the rocks below.

Photograph by Linda Young of the Transylvania Times

 This is a photograph of the entire waterfall.  The drop from the top to the collecting pool below is sixty feet.  In fact, I took the photograph from the parking's that near the road.

Several people have died or were serious injured at Looking Glass Falls.  Often youthful daring and alcohol are involved.  Yet this man is not young and did not appear to be drinking.  He simply wanted a particular view for his picture.  He escaped that day without injury.  He likely has no idea how stupid and careless he had been.  I hope he thinks the photograph was worth risking his life.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Not So Much Color Yet

We have a fair amount of color beginning in our community.  That always excites us because it means the color is really coming to the higher mountains.

Color on our street

So we drove up through Pisgah Forest to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Surprisingly enough, the amount of color didn't change very much as we gained altitude.  The trees were about the same.  But the mountains were gorgeous as they always are.

[NOTE:  I have no idea why these photographs are so dark on Blogger.]

A view of the mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway

We drove up to Mt. Pisgah and found a larger than usual crowd for a week day.  It seems the top of the tower was going to be replaced that day and folks were waiting to see the helicoptor hovering and placing the tip.  The winds were extremely high that morning so the people had waited in vain.  The tip would not be placed that day.

Mt. Pisgah, a favorite for hiking and camping

We went inside the Pisgah Inn.  While we didn't eat there this day, it is one of our favorite breakfast spots.  We try to get up there often when it is open.  Great food at a good price and a panoramic view of the mountains.

I took a picture of this bench for our fisher/birder blogger friend up in MN.  Even Baron would be allowed to sit on this one.

So we will wait for the color, just like we wait every fall.  I'll bring you some photographs of the changes.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fridays are Golden

Our Golden Girls have a pretty good life.  They don't work for a living, and good manners are all that we require of them.  Everything else...the loving and caring comes from them on their own.  They just sort of hang around.

Here Lucy hangs around on the sunny deck.  I made her sit for the photograph and she was none too happy about that.

Abrupty and without any reason, we periodically make them do a down/stay.  They seem to wonder why we do that, but it's all part of making it a habit.

I always wonder just what's behind Lucy's smile.  She looks as if she knows something that I don't know.

Running and playing are part of every day.

Along with a little wrestling.  They do love to rough it up sometimes.

 But mostly, they just hang around together.  Despite having more beds than dogs, the girls are often together in one bed.

Less than a month from now, all of us will have a very important obligation.  That is to exercise our right to vote.  I urge you to read extensively about the candidates running for office.  We hear so many ugly sound bites that we decide we don't want either candidate.  Too bad, because one of them will be elected and that can make a huge difference.  The party in control of Congress will chair the important committees.  The Speaker of the House is third in line for the Presidency. If (God forbid) something happens to both the President and the Vice President the Speaker of the House will be your President.

Often overlooked in the election are the non-partisan candidates for State Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals.  These are extremely important positions.  Don't mark your ballot without knowing something about the person you are voting for.  With the marvels of the Internet, you can find information about all of them.  In most areas the League of Women Voters publishes information given to them by these candidates.  Research and be an informed voter.

Eleanor Roosevelt, one of my favorite women had this to say:
"Sometimes I wonder if we shall ever grow up in our politics and say definite things which mean something, or whether we shall always go on using generalities to which everyone can subscribe and which mean very little."

This year, the political parties and the candidates (like all other years before), are full of generalities and little substance.  Candidates are promising whatever they think voters want.  You've heard all of them.  Far more often than you would like.  Like it or not, you must vote for someone.  This year especially, you cannot be apathetic.  You must vote.

I hope you are having some good fall weather.  It's beautiful here with crisp mornings and clear days.



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And This One From Minnesota

Without looking for them, I keep coming across stupid signs or signs for stupid people.  This sign is located in the small town of Cottage Grove, Minnesota.  (Photo credit to Lary Holmen.)  The information doesn't seem to be particularly helpful to approaching cars unless in Minnesota the oncoming U-turn traffic has the right of way.

Wonder if it's near Lake Woebegone.  You know...where all the women are strong, all the men are goodlooking, and all the children are above average.  And speaking of Garrison Keillor; one of his quotes is so appropriate for this election year.  It seems the mantra of some:
Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye and deny it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Batteries Not Included

Every year the Cradle of Forestry (here) holds a Forest Festival Day in which various North Carolina colleges of forestry celebrate forest heritage in a competition.  The competition includes log rolls, speed chopping, axe throws, pole climbs, and other activities related to forestry.  We were able to go to the festival on Saturday and truly enjoyed watching the young forestry students compete in these age-old activities.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and brisk.  The skill of the young students was amazing.  Other exhibits demonstrated wood carving, soap making, and other activities.  It was a lovely day.

I suppose you think I am going to show you some photographs of the various events.  That was indeed my plan.  But you see?  I had put the camera batteries on the charger the previous evening.  Enough said?  The camera went with me all right, but the batteries stayed at home.  Of course my dear husband thought that was hilarious and asked the obvious, "Didn't you think the camera seemed a little light?"

So instead of the pictures of the festival, I will show you what our area looks like with autumn just beginning.  We had some much needed rain and a drop in temperature.  When the rains stopped, the mountains were clear and beautiful.

The edge of the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment lies a short drive from our house, across the SC line.  There are dramatic views from the escarpment where the mountains meet the piedmont of South Carolina.  On a clear day you can see for miles and miles.

These photographs were taken last week by my husband at Caesar's Head State Park, SC.

Table Rock looms above everything else.  The lake below it is the reservoir that provides water to the city of Greenville, SC.  Needless to say it is a popular hiking spot.

Looking in the other direction you can see the hills and valleys below the escarpment.  There isn't much color at those elevations yet.

Atop the mountain however the leaves are just beginning to turn.

In another week the color will take your breath away.
We'll make another trip to the area in about 10 days so that you can see how rich the autumn colors are in this area.

And next year...when I go to the Forest Festival Day I will take the batteries along with the camera.