Sunday, June 26, 2022

Not Feeling So Great

 This picture of a little frog statue in my backyard kind of sums up how I feel at the moment.

I am not feeling very happy right now. I feel frustration and disquiet about recent political decisions in my country. I am concerned about all those marginalized by society whose rights are in jeopardy. I am not hopeless, but I am finding it hard to hope.  

Meanwhile, it has been very, very hot and dry, and each day I water sections of the garden to keep things alive.

The cucumbers are bitter and the tomato blossoms are drying up because of the heat. At night it isn't cooling off enough to give the plants a rest. 

Any plant that is a perennial volunteer is being neglected.

 Most of the yard makes me feel hot and desperate and overwhelmed. If only it would rain!

Of course, there are some plants who love the sun--like peppers and eggplants. And some flowers too that are getting enough water because they grow where the A/C sends its condensation, or they grow in the shade.

Even though it isn't really the season for baking, when I saw fresh rhubarb in the farmer's market, I had to make a pie. (I just used a ready-made crust. Why not?)

I am hoping that in the coming week it will rain.
I am hoping a lot of things . . .  

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Getting too Hot to Hike

Over the past 7 days, I have done two hikes. They were great fun, but I am deciding that it is really getting too hot to hike much more this summer. 

The first hike was once again up near and on the Appalachian Trail at Raven Cliff Falls. We started out on an easy walk along a beautiful creek.  Suddenly this huge stone wall seemed to rise up out of the woods and water plunged down from several points in the split in the cliff. It is really quite spectacular!  I decided to attach a video rather than my sorry phone photos.

Someone said that earlier in the week a woman fell off the top of the cliff, but was not hurt. I cannot imagine!

Because this was a rather short walk, we drove a little ways near Hog Pen Gap and hiked Wildcat Mountain to Cowrock. The views at the top of both peaks were excellent! I love any time you can get a view of nature without evidence of man.

Fellow hikers taking a picture of the view from Wildcat Mtn

Up on Cowrock where we saw a nest of copperhead snakes under the most obvious stone to sit on!

Yesterday, I went to Alabama to hike. This was totally new for me. I really hadn't thought about Alabama having mountains or hills. 

My hiking mates and I enjoyed snacking on the masses of blueberries that covered the hillsides as we walked. The trail was often through woods, but there were parts where the trail was totally obscured and we were scrabbling through jungle, and other parts were extremely rocky and technical. I loved it all!

Panoramic view here was impossible to photograph. It was a great spot for lunch after 9 miles!

We also saw the remains of a small plane that crashed! Very unusual.

I'm planning on another hike nearby next weekend, but after that I think I will give it a rest because it is so stinkin' hot! Even in the hills it is in the 90s plus humidity--ugh!

The garden is growing great in spite of a lack of rain. We don't have 10,000 cucumbers this year, but the ones we do have are delicious!

Enjoy your week!

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Knit, Garden, Hike, Repeat

 On the knitting front, I finished my pair of socks using the Winwick Mum pattern and the Turtlepurl yarn. It took me several weeks with school and everything to make the first sock and I messed up the toe part so badly that I actually took scissors to it and cut it off (!) and went at it again. Of course, the second sock went like magic and I finished it in 2 days. I was a little dismayed that the yarn ends did not weave in very well (especially as I had alternated colors for the cuff, heel, and toes) and did not improve after blocking. When I went back to look at the yarn, sure enough, the yarn is superwash wool, so will not stick to itself. If I had known that, I would not have just knit straight ahead and not switched colors. 

I am pretty happy with these overall though. 

What I am NOT happy with is the cardigan I started last summer. It is a cotton cardi with no buttons and it should be easy. I stopped knitting it because the cotton yarn was giving me no end of grief with the stitches seemingly constantly slipping off the needle. Well, I pulled this UFO out this week and had another go, but when reading the directions I was at a loss. "Selvedge stitch"--"Sew on sleeves"--"Sew on collar." I fiddled and thought and just could not wrap my head around what to do. It seemed the selvedge stitch was to be put in the wrong place--and wouldn't I need a row of those stitches? The more I looked at my uneven knitting and thought about having to somehow evenly pick up stitches on bound off stitches, I just said to myself, no

Alas, this project is officially scrapped. Life is too short for this kind of thing.

Instead, I cast on the Lunenburg pullover by Amy Christoffers. This may have 5 balls of yarn going all at once, but I definitely feel more comfortable knitting something like this.

Meanwhile, the flower garden is over the top! Bursting with color and variety.

Saturday, I went on a group hike up to Anna Ruby Falls, a dynamic double waterfall. 

The trail was thick with rhododendron and passed over many water ways. It was a fairly challenging ascent, but the falls at the top were a fabulous reward and a great place to stop for lunch before heading back down. 

Everyone on the hike was so nice and interesting and enthusiastic. 

 My son and I went out this morning, poking around in the woods for snakes. We saw a pair of water snakes, but didn't even bother to take a picture of them. He calls them "lowest of the low tier snakes." In other words, super common. It was really just too hot for snakes today.

 But we didn't mind. We did get to see this this glorious mimosa in full bloom!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

A Solo Hike

 This weekend I gave a tai chi demonstration and did a ton of garden clean up. Why do the weeds grow so fast and the things we plant struggle so? 

But last weekend I got up very early, took a longish drive, and went for a mountain hike. I hike the Gahuti trail at Fort Mountain. It is a fantastic 8 mile, well marked trail. 

It had rained the night before and was still overcast when I started off. I had my raincoat in my pack, but hoped I wouldn't need it. I didn't, but the humidity stayed WAY up all day. I was pretty soaked even without the rain.

When I was a kid, we read the book Where the Red Fern Grows and I believed ferns growing in the wild was part of the fiction of the story. No way ferns could grow in the wild! Well, then I moved to woods of a different kind and saw all the ferns. I am still amazed by them.

I saw this little newt/salamander guy right in the middle of the trail. Didn't he pose nicely?
And I was absolutely thrilled to see that I hadn't missed all the pink lady slippers!  There were a lot of them that had already passed, but I didn't mind. The ones I saw filled my soul with joy!

snail race

As I walked, bird song filled the air, and mountain laurel bloomed overhead.

I began to see lots and lots of pink rhododendron blooming like crazy. I cried out in delight!

I stopped for lunch beside a waterfall--my usual hikers lunch of nuts and dried fruit. This time, I had some oatmeal cookies too. What a fabulous place to stop and rest!!

There were times on the trail when I was literally walking in a cloud, but little by little the sun took over. The last mile or so was mostly uphill. 
When I came to the final look off, I was surprised how near it was to where I parked my car. I knew I could have started the hike (it is a loop trail) at the look off, but I am glad I went the other way around, especially seeing it was such a short distance from the parking area. In fact, I met an elderly couple walking to the look off point just as I was leaving it.

I was hot and sweaty and exuberant. It was a perfect, soul filling day! 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

A Bunch of Frogs and a Moment of FEAR

 We got up early today and went south to the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. 

Allison Lake

Green Tree Frog
Although this place is known for being a haven for woodpeckers, we did not see any. We heard them, but they were elusive.

What we did see (and hear), were lots of frogs and toads.

Birding Blind

Cricket Frog ?

Narrow mouth frog


We also saw salamanders and skinks and lizards of various kinds.

Fence Lizard

Slimy Salamander

The sky was overcast, and the day was hazy with humidity. It was a little eerie and close.


I was glad it wasn't summer, and when it is summer, you will not find me here. It was just starting to get buggy.  My son got about 20 or 30 ticks--What?? Haha! Just starting to get buggy?? Sounds pretty full out insect laden already!

At one point, we got off track in our explorations and came to this tumbled down barn. There was a vulture on the roof who flew away when we approached. On closer inspection, my son and I heard an ominous breathing or hissing sound from within this barn. It scared me! It has been a long time since I have felt any kind of primal fear, but today I felt it. I could hear this big thing breathing and I knew to get away. So we did.

Hissing House

Of course, my mind imagined a bear or maybe an injured wild pig, some dying animal that had brought the vulture. What if it got mad and came at us? 
We thought about it as we walked, calmer after the initial creepy panic. Maybe it was another vulture on a nest? We think now that is most likely what it was. --Creepy!!

It was an unusual day all around. 


 I was happy to be outdoors. And especially happy to be with my grown up boy.