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.


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. 



Monday, October 19, 2015

Great Views

Yes, it's Autumn along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  And the colors are gorgeous again.  We rarely have to do more to entertain our guests than feed them a hearty breakfast and drive through the mountains.

On one particular day the long-range views were as good as I've seen in years.  Perhaps it was due to the heavy rains we had recently.  Or the chilly Autumn weather.  But whatever the reason, it was wonderful to see distant peaks frequently obscured by the blue haze that names our Blue Ridge Mountains.  Gorgeous fluffy clouds filled the sky as we enjoyed our mountains once again.  (You may want to click to enlarge the photographs)

Looking Glass Rock stands out prominently

 The clouds cast shadows on the mountains.

No matter how often we drive through the mountains, and no matter how well we know each peak, the thrill remains.  Nature at its best.

Friday, October 2, 2015

We Love Lucy

We have had a rainy week here.  On Tuesday the forecasters promised the rain would end by Thursday and we would enjoy a sunny weekend.  We were ready for that since we had more than seven inches of rain in a five day period.  They did mention a tropical depression in the Atlantic.  By Wednesday the depression was a serious hurricane headed for the coast.  Then an unexpected front swept over Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina and stalled, dumping us with more and more rain along with flash flooding.  So almost all of North Carolina is having heavy rainfall; the west due to the front and the east due to the hurricane.  Our thoughts go out to those in harm's way.

Lucy does not like usually like the rain.  But surprisingly she does enjoy running in the rain at the park.  My husband takes her there (if it's not a total downpour) while I put towels in the dryer to warm up so we can get her dry quickly.  When it is raining, she tends to patrol the house, going from window to window to look out.

 Here she looks out a dining room window.

During a respite from the rain we went out on the front porch.

Then she decided that her cozy bed might be the best idea.

Our thoughts are still with the refugees fleeing for their lives.  And for the victims and families of yet another senseless shooting in our country.  Will we never learn?

We've got company coming so I'll be taking another two-week break.

Today's quote is an old Irish blessing from an unknown author:

May you always have walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire.