Category Archives: The Wild Blue Yonder

Wordless Wednesday: Doing the Happy Dance

Who’s full of hot air? Not moi!

(Photo credit to Asheville Balloon Rides)

I think we will take this hot air ballon trip over Asheville and the French Broad River sometime as the colors change this fall. There’s a whisper of the changing season here in the mountains: the corn has been harvested, cooler weather crops are going in and the view from the house is slightly different as the sun sets a bit more to the southwest. I’m loving it, although today was the first day it hasn’t rained in three and I spent it organizing (FINALLY) my studio/workshop space. That’s because more rain was predicted and I just couldn’t shift gears once I was headed down that path. Watch. Tomorrow, when gardening is on the schedule, it will rain. I have some lovely photos of garden gifts that have come to me from neighbors here and I’ll get those up. Anyway, hope you’ve been having a lovely weekend in your neck of the woods. Oh! Balloon rides reminds me of this:

A woman in a hot air balloon realized that she was lost.  She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below.  She shouted to him, “Excuse me, can you help me?  I promised a friend that I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”
The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level.  You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09  minutes west longitude.
She rolled her eyes and said, “You must be an Obama Democrat.”
“I am,” replied the man. “How did you know?”
“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically  correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I’m still  lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help to me.”
The man smiled and responded, “You must be a Republican.”
“I am,” replied the balloonist. “How did you know?”
“Well,” said the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going.  You’ve risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a  promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your  problem. You’re in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it’s my fault.

Country roads, take me home

…to the place with no bathroom. Or kitchen. Cathy and I are here in the Blue Ridge, poring over tile, cork, glass, stone, wood and blueprints as work begins on the kitchen, bath and bedroom renovation of Rich’s and my mountain home. It’s a lot more fun having Cathy along than Rich for this part of the trip; I know for certain Rich would not have the patience to spend hours at the tile store and then go back repeatedly while I obsess further. The thing is, this one needs to be just right.(You have to be nuts to design a kitchen around drawer pulls.)

The budget for this renovation has it’s origins back at my little lake cottage in Michigan, Wit’s End. When that had to be sold as we moved to Chicago, proceeds were set aside for this last house, our final home, my dream kitchen.

(Cathy basks in the late winter sun- a novelty for this Florida girl- while I spend money. She’s getting vicarious pleasure out of appliance shopping but not without some refrigerator envy.)

Although demolition is done, we’re already two weeks behind schedule because of the snow and ice so I may have to camp out and use the portajohn come May. I WILL plant my first kitchen garden here this year.(Is it too soon to dump a load of manure in there?)

For now, I choose colors- the kitchen, the color of the mountains, one bathroom like autumn, the master bath with some iridescent and brilliant Spring green tile.

Windows. How big, how many can we incorporate on the west side? Heating and cooling: if I’m going to be hot or cold at this stage in my life it’s on a beach or mountain hike but not in the comfort of my home. And it has to be clean, green and energy efficient. There’s a lot to consider here. Not the least of which is the view.

Back in the place where we will live…

view1(The view from our back door. I think we’ll make it the front door.)

Rich and I drove to Asheville for the weekend. This is the second birthday in a row that I have been in the place where we will live, in Sugar Hollow atop our own little mountain just south of Asheville. We met with our contractor and draftsman on Thursday to see what they had made of  my plans for the kitchen and seeing the drawings made me want to have it done, now. We took our lovely tenants out for dinner in Biltmore Village. We went to the WNC Farm market and filled the back of the car with apples and pumpkins. On Friday Rich was more patient than I had dared to hope, tagging along behind me while I gathered up wool and silk and books and yarns and ribbons at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. Business expense, don’t you know. We pet the bunnies but the alpaca and sheep weren’t in yet; they were being judged today but we had set aside today for getting more familiar with our terrain.

As birthdays go, this one puts me pretty much in the autumn of my years but I can’t remember feeling healthier or happier or more  excited about the next decade of my life. This is most likely a mood and I’ll find myself in some funk or other soon enough but at the moment, every little thing pleases me.rosyfins!See how delighted I was to discover Rose Finn fingerling potatoes at the tailgate farm market this morning? So easy to please! Behind me is Annie of Flying Cloud Farm which is the organic farm located right smack at the foot of our road. They have a nice website with a blog and they also have very nice pastured pigs.pigsI really hate to think of this darling fellow as the tenderloin roast on our table next year, and yet…

And lest this weekend be all about me, we went off in search of golf. Rich found this beautiful course about 20 miles from our home and while we admired the view we chatted with a serious golfing type guy who told Rich about all the possibilities, including many for something called “winter golf”. Winter golf???golfThe icing on the cake for Rich was discovering that Tiger Woods is building his first American golf course practically in our backyard. Rich is at this moment on Google Earth looking at the topographical map and calculating a path one mile over the mountain- a sort of as-the-crow-flies approach to the development called The Cliffs, home to Tiger’s golf course. I don’t get golf but I’m happy for Rich and pleased to know he’ll have places to go and things to do while I make a garden.

After we went ‘looking for golf’ we drove back to our house one last time for this year. We are trying not to be so overtly gleeful about our future prospects as to distress our tenants unduly. They have been loving the house and would gladly stay on and we do feel badly that we’re there planning our future which means they have to pack up and move at the end of the year. Still, part of the plan for this weekend included finding the right trees for the bat house and the owl box. Rosario and his brother take care of the lawn for us (we collect rent, pay property management. taxes and Rosario and it all just about equals out. Ah, me.) and today I showed him where I thought they should go. Rich says I look very determined when I’m executing a plan of action, but it was important to me to get these up now so our bats have the opportunity to relocate prior to renovations that will force them from the attic vents where they happily reside. Yeesh. It’s like we’re evicting everybody.bathouse

While we were there I took a picture of our black walnut tree and looked around for saplings.I have a friend in Florida who would like them and I was considering dropping them by on our way south tomorrow. I found 4 or 5 that are several feet tall that I was pretty sure are black walnuts but they’ve dropped their leaves already and I realized there was a possibility that they could be hickory trees. We have lots of mature hickory and oak trees about the place, too, and I couldn’t discern with certainty. Nor did I have a shovel or pots. Poor planning. So, FC, if you would still like some, please be patient. I’ll get them for you first trip back in the Spring.blackwalnut

The garden is original to the house and is bordered by a beautiful picket fence. We are about the same age, the fence and I, give or take a year and the fence has held up nicely, even with wisteria overgrown on one side. Someone made it out of hardwood that shows no sign of rot or decay. The garden is a bit of  a dilemma; I think I probably need to rototill the whole thing and start anew but there are remnants of day lilies and roses.housenow

As I was considering what was growing inside the garden I noticed this beautiful lichen growing on the pickets. It’s as though an entire miniature forest, with little red-topped trees, is growing and thriving there. Amazing.fencelichenfence

Did I mention that it was a glorious day? As I was growing up my grandmother always said that the weather was “just excellent” on my birthday. I tend to keep track and it does seem as though on October 24th, the weather is usually beautiful, at least in my neck of the woods.fallcolor

The car is packed full with produce and fleece and it smells wonderful in there. Tomorrow we drive south to our home for the winter; the cats are expecting us. It is the autumn of my life and the view from here is pretty special.