Bologna

This year we didn’t send holiday greetings, which is a shame. I love to make the images without words and I believe that our recipients don’t need the words; only the greeting.

I remember my rebellious years. The difference is that in those days you could rebel and still have some standard of living. You could find any old job, live in a hovel, eat pasta forever (Oh, how we mastered the sauces.) and continue to go to school. School was the ticket. The difference, these days, is that it’s who you know. Sadly, school is enjoyable but immaterial. Wouldn’t it be wonderful (she said) to chuck it all and make it with what you know.

I am a sandwich; the thin spread between two slices of white bread. I had a long talk with Dad today. He thinks that he broke his hip a few years ago and in two places (when it was ONLY the knob on his femur). I explained that it was little more than six months since his surgery and that he had visited the hospital a few more times since for various other reasons. I’m liking my new white hair.

The Kent clan spent Christmas together in the Mary Dyer Room at Foulkeways. It was the first time in my memory that my Father actually opened presents and waxed appreciative. He loved his new shoes (Good score, Ben and Mary). This is a picture of Norton looking pensive.

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This is a new look for him.

This is a new look for Bill.

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We had the traditional deli platters from Pumpernicks, root beer and some of us had real beer. I drank water.

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We welcomed new members to the family unit.

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And, thanked the old members.

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Tis the season to be searching and I, for one, am grittin on East Tennessee.

I’d rather be curry than a sandwich, even though its stinks up the house for days.

Happy New Year.

 

People Watching

Christine told us about the time she had to chase the people away from the herd of wild Elk at Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center. Mind you, these things average at around eight hundred pounds of muscle and hooves. I took, very seriously, the advice of the local man that we met on the trail on the way back from Cherokee. There were Elk in the river and he said we should approach them with care. As we got nearer, there was a large group of people crowded along the banks of the river, taking photos. One man was at the very edge, feet from the critters with his young child. Christine said that on that previous occasion a woman had refused to move away because she noticed that some of the animals were collared and therefore all the Rangers had to do was zap the Elk if they got too near as if there were monitors directed on every meadow in this huge park.

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We had the opportunity to sneak into dispatch a few days ago and there was an alert for a “Bear Jam”. This occurs when otherwise “intelligent” people and their children jump out of their cars in the middle of the highway and block traffic on winding, blind curves while they run around with their cameras, phones and pads chasing bears to get a picture. Technology; gotta love it. Refer to the previous post. Bears are NOT cute.

As we were driving back from Bryson City yesterday, we got caught behind a huge semi on North 441. Fortunately, the truck stopped at a pull out and we were able to get past. There are two signs at the very beginning of this route. One reads, “NO COMMERCIAL VEHICLES”, and the other reads, “CAUTION: LONG, STEEP, WINDING MOUNTAIN ROAD, NEXT 35 MILES”. We were wondering how he would get through the three tunnels and figured that he might be able to turn around at Clingman’s Dome Road or Newfound Gap Parking Lot if it were devoid of cars (not likely) when the Ranger sped past us in the other direction apparently with the intention of zapping the driver into awareness.

Incredibly, there was one rule breaker that we saw yesterday who warmed my heart. We climbed Clingman’s Dome Trail to the observation tower which is a half a mile long and rises three hundred feet in the interim. This is a very steep incline and most people rested regularly along the way. And, there he was, a man about our age pushing his mother up the hill and up the ramp to the observation deck in a wheel chair. When we got to talking, I reminded them that the hike down might be equally as perilous and the lovely lady winked and said, “Today, I’ve been to the top of the World. It would be a good day to let go”.

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Certifiable

Just because I LIKE to carve tiny little lines doesn’t make me crazy, nor does picking up my piles of cards and straightening them before I commence play in Solitaire. Today you noticed that the spider goes a very long way to weave an intricate web, but it does get reward for the effort. Okay, so I spent two days on the drawing, but that’s because I LIKE the monsters that appear in the shady little areas and I LIKE that a portrait of Toe showed up in this one. And, it did take me more than forty hours of carving time to even think about moving on to the Bear block (They’ll be the “cute” bears, Almut.), but it’s going to look like I made it and it’s looking like it will be beautiful, as well. I do sometimes hold off on the printing because the carving is so much fun to look at and fondle for a day or two. I’m not, “Bat shit crazy”, Honey,

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any more than you are fixed on shooting Woody.

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I am still amazed at all of the new and exciting things we are finding out about each other after so many years. Thank you for entrusting me with your tools, Dad.

Five Miles in Flip Flops

We could hardly sleep on Tuesday night in anticipation of finally moving freely through the park for the first time in over two weeks. We were jubilant that the State of Tennessee had made the decision to open the park for five days in spite of the shut down and planned our itinerary quickly. We began, yesterday, in Cade’s Cove which is a drivable eleven mile loop, dotted with historical buildings and fields that shine a light on the idyllic life led here by settlers before the Government took over (after they took it over from the indigenous people, that is). Cade’s Cove is rumored to be resplendent with wild life. Bill was particularly looking forward to Elk and White Tail Deer who are in rut. We saw turkeys.

Somebody had recommended that we stop along the loop at the Abrams Falls trail head and give it a go. We hiked a five mile, moderate trail which wound around, up and down rocky sand stone outcroppings. It was a little rough, even in hikers. I’m not yet convinced to attempt a strenuous hike. I was amazed that a woman from Missouri was walking it in flip flops. Some people are made of more mettle or idiocy than me. The falls were lovely and we enjoyed our lunch of peanut butter and jelly, hard boiled eggs with salt, grapes and cold water there. There were a great many people taking advantage of the fair day and the park access.

I needed to stop at Sugarlands Visitor’s Center on the way back to put money in the honor box at the head of Fighting Creek Nature Trail for the printed narrative which we had borrowed when we walked that path earlier in the week (another settlement, much like Cade’s Cove, except walkable and quiet).  There is a lovely wildlife museum at the visitor’s center. I can see why they liked my work. The center was packed with people and they were throwing money in the honor boxes left and right. One of the rangers was emptying them as fast as they were filling. (I wonder who does the accounting for the Association.) I’m sure there was much happiness over the opening and subsequent crowds. I can’t help but think about how much revenue was lost over two weeks. Surely this is big business; environmentalist business. And, I question any validity or wisdom in the decision to shut down the Nation. Who walks five miles over rocks in flip flops? It’s ludicrous. I see turkeys. They’re everywhere. They don’t know they’re turkeys. Image

 

 

    

     

Do I Pee Myself in the Woods?

Last night was so much fun in our quiet, little unit. I worked on my board for a few hours. We ate pasta for dinner and I worked on my board some more. Afterward, we ate chocolate and played two games of Spite and Malice (Bill won both games. He’s not a gracious loser). Just as I had finished my nightly, herbal, bedtime tea and was sitting on the back stoop smoking my last cigarette for the night, SUDDENLY, a big black thing that was decidedly not a bounding, slobbery Newfoundland came charging straight at us from out of the woods. She was bellowing at the top of her lungs and stomping the ground with her front paws; classic, aggressive behavior. I screamed like a girl, stubbed my toe and scraped up my arm pretty good, scrambling to get back into the house. We watched the bear and her babies circle the house a few times. I won’t forget now know what a bear sounds like.

We have always wanted to end up out in the wilderness some day. If we were to think about here in East Tennessee, I would really  need to adjust my attitude. The people are really nice, gas is cheap, the environment is breathtaking, food is really expensive, taxes are very high and the bears are certainly NOT trite. I did everything wrong when faced with a good Mama. I will do it differently when I meet with her again; tonight?

In any case, the bedtime regimen didn’t work last night. I had a beer and continued to work on my board since I was too jazzed to sleep. And, in case you were wondering, tea is a diuretic.

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Blackilocks and Three Bambini

Not being able to drive to the trail – heads is a little frustrating. Yesterday we tried to hike to Laurel Falls Trail which ultimately loops over Cove Mountain and back down to Cataract Falls, which is an easy walk from our apartment. If the park was open, Christine said she could help get us outfitted for back country hiking, which this loop would require.

In any case, we decided to walk to the Laurel Falls trail – head. It was at three and a half miles up a steep incline that we decided to take pictures at Fighting Creek Gap, eat our lunch and head back down the hill. The vista was enough to make it worth the while.

I was so sore that I drove Bill to the Gatlinburg Trail with his fishing rod before I headed to the picnic tables to get my daily dose of internet. I’m not as young as I used to be.

This time, Bill had his camera when the bears were at the creek crossing. There are a mama and three babies that live in our neighborhood. The park estimates a population of fifteen hundred. This year there was a bumper crop of bear cubs; a rare occurrence that happens two years after a bad food shortage.

I’m wondering if the bears are a trite subject for a woodcut or if they are just perfect considering my current environment.

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Though Shalt Not Covet Thy Bride’s Turkey Feather

The gift I found next to my right foot while drawing at Cataract Falls (apropos) has a metallic bit of trichroic coloration; copper, green and blue. Bill has been tying flies in anticipation of fishing if the park reopens. We had purchased some Ringtail Pheasant Tail at the tackle shop, but he was hoping to nick some of my turkey feather to simulate the Birds Stonefly which the trout around here seem to enjoy. Yesterday he followed Tom, Dick and Harry around the Visitors’ Center and they bestowed upon him, his very own gift. We’ve discovered that the Rangers are too few to enforce the closure of all the trails and feel fairly certain that we can traverse the more moderate trails that have had the cones removed at the trail-heads. Perhaps we shall eat fish. In any case, I am drawing after meticulous fashion, my gift. I think that perhaps when I get home I might try to pull the print over copper cine colle. Happy trails.

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