Sunday, August 31, 2008

more from Tumbling Fun Falls Conservation Easement

Yesterday's photos of the new trail weren't the only ones I took while in NC.  And, the name--Tumbling Fun Falls (or Tumblin' Fun Falls) is one that was noted in a book, The Land of Waterfalls, by Jim Bob Tinsley about waterfalls in Transylvania County, NC.  Tumblin' Fun is the falls shown in the photos in this post.  It's on the property that Noel & Patrick have recently placed in a conservation easement; over 100 acres of beautiful cove forest that will be preserved forever.  Whitewater Falls is not too far away.

On Noel & Patrick's property there are two falls, the Tumbling Fun Falls shown here and Dorothy's Falls, which was inspiration for many of the photos taken a few weeks well as the sketches and watercolors.  There are quite a number of seeps, springs and small creeks on the place, too.

Although dry again this year, Noel & Patrick continue to be able to grow the most marvelous plants.  The beauty of these show the deep love both N & P have for nature and for healthy, beneficial ways to grow food for themselves.  As I left yesterday, Noel was planning for an afternoon of elderberry jam making.  But not only are the cultivated plants wonderful, all of the surrounding forms show such vitality.

After the new trail walk, Patrick and I went down to the base of Tumbling Fun Falls where I took a number of photos.  I'll take the watercolors there next time I go up; there's a rock at the base of the falls that I can get to pretty easily and so I'll be able to sit almost directly under the falling water to paint.  

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A magical spot

I've just returned from another couple of days in North Carolina, staying overnight at Noel & Patrick's Thursday and Friday nights.  Sandwiched in between the visit at Tumbling Fun Falls was a trip into Asheville for a Guild committee meeting.

Noel and Patrick have opened up a new trail on the property and we took a walk along that this morning before I left.  This path is my favorite now!  It meanders through laurel hells and along the creek, dense layer of leaf litter and humus underfoot.  I took quite a few photos on the walk but most didn't turn out very well.  But I manipulated a few of the shots with iPhoto in an attempt to give a sense of the timeless quality that I feel in the place.  I could imagine these woods giving off the same essence of spiritual presence 100 years ago--or 1,000 years ago.  It's as though this cove forest stands removed from time in the way I experience it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Democratic National Convention

I've been so thrilled to discover that I can watch live coverage of daily events at the Democratic National Convention, online on my laptop!  Now talk about weaving with meaning, watching Mark Warner give a rousing keynote address last night while I was weaving on the fiddlehead tapestry--that was something to be treasured.  This tapestry is about renewal--and that's what this campaign represents to me, a chance for the American people to renew their sense of values and honor their commitment to all of our citizens--not just a select few.

I was energized watching all of the strong women speak last night, too.  And what a speech by Michelle Obama on Monday night,  as she spoke so eloquently about her background and family; how her experiences and those of her husband mirror those of so many Americans as they strive to be the best people they can be, in spite of or because of their circumstances.

I also was glad to see and hear Hillary Clinton last night.  She had my vote in the primary but I'm happy to move on to Barack Obama now as my candidate.  I found his 2004 keynote address on the videos at the DNC website, too--I was very happy to see it again and I'm looking forward to tomorrow night's acceptance speech.  

I don't usually make overt political statements through bumper stickers, yard signs, or campaign buttons but I've taken to wearing an Obama pin, his face encased in a bottle cap with milagro heart attached, that I bought at Folk Fest last week. The woman from whom I bought the pin is donating 1/2 of her proceeds from sales of Obama pins to his campaign.

OK, so this is my first and last political post....nothing from next week, I'm sure!  I'll be back to talking about tapestry and other assorted things I'm up to--and anxiously waiting for the next four months to pass.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fiddleheads continue

Well, I'm slogging along on the fiddlehead tapestry.  I'm finding this last half to be very s-l-o-w going, for many reasons.  One is that I lost momentum on it as I made several trips in and out of town (even when the tapestry went along with me!) and I'm finding it hard to regain that push.  But, I certainly wouldn't have wanted to miss the trips since they were sources of much needed R & R as well as lots of inspiration!!  

And, I'm into harder areas now...many head-scratching parts in which I really have to make constant decisions about color choices.  Since I started following the roughly drawn cartoon very loosely, that becomes harder and harder along the way--especially since I'm running out of a few of the smaller wool yarns that I've incorporated into many of the color blends.  I'm trying to anticipate what I'll lose next and work something else into areas so the change won't be too startling.  Or as my niece used to say when she was around four:  "Oh, I MEANT to do that!" 

The tapestry size is to be 30" h  x 25" w --I'm weaving it sideways so it's 30" across the width of the loom.  Today the highest point is at 20" and the lowest at 17".  Then I've got about an inch of hem to weave once I level off the image.

I'd hoped to have this tapestry ready for the instructors' exhibit at Penland during fall concentration when Pat, Peggy and I were scheduled to teach.  However, we learned on Thursday that the class is being cancelled because of low enrollment.  BUMMER!  There were only four who'd signed up for the class....

AND, the Arrowmont class, scheduled Sept. 28-Oct. 4, is looking pretty iffy now, too!  Only two are on the roster at this point and I know that class will need at least five to make it fly.  Seems I may have an unintentional sabbatical since I'd asked not be scheduled at NGCSU this fall because of the Penland and Arrowmont commitments.

Doors open and doors close.  It will all be fine.  AND, now I intend for this tapestry to be one of my Blue Ridge Handweaving Show entries!  Pieces are due at that exhibit by September 26, I believe.  The entry form and fee went in a week or so ago.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

another NC visit

I spent a couple of days in North Carolina again this week.  There was a board meeting for Southern Highland Craft Guild that I attended on Tuesday.  On my way to Asheville I stopped overnight with friends, Noel and Patrick.  Once again we had wonderful Thanksgiving meals--THANKSGIVING for the fantastic food they grow and the delicious meals Noel prepares from their bounty.

Just a couple of shots of veggies here...I'd posted more a couple of weeks ago after Thomas and I spent some days there.  Am I food obsessed?  Only for the wonderful goodies that are available here!

So we had fun with the "cauliflower ear"...Noel said that this particular cauliflower was a big as her head.  In fact, it appears to be even bigger in the second photo!

Dahlias are among the many types of plants Patrick enjoys growing.  These two shots are only a couple of the kinds and colors that are blooming right now.

My two good buddie furry friends, Erika and Parker, were happy to see me again!  They're both bearded collies.  Parker is just a few weeks over a year old and is he ever a sweetheart!  Erika has a couple of her toys around in the kitchen as she and I were photographed.

The tapestries I've done of apples were based on paintings I did of apples on a couple of the trees at Noel & Patrick's.  Both of those trees are producing much fruit this year.  Here's one of the Golden Blushing and a shot of branches full of the Yates.

I didn't have time at this visit to continue with the Dorothy's Falls studies I'd started earlier in August.  The thoughts of developing a tapestry based on those continue to percolate though...maybe those studies will turn into my next design struggle!  I've got a good start on image collection, that's for sure.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mining the Surface exhibition is open

Wow!  I just visited the Swan Coach House website to read news of the Mining the Surface exhibition and see that my tapestry is front and center in the exhibit!  I'm so jazzed about this!!  The gallery page has a changing photo of views of the exhibit.  There are more photos in the gallery link of works in the show.  

The opening reception is September 4, 6-8 p.m. 

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back from NC with lots of inspiration

We are back home after spending the past nine days at the wonderful spot in Western NC that our friends, Noel & Patrick own. Their 100+ acres of wooded land has been an inspiration for my imagery for over ten years now. The property is filled with beauty, from the pond where river otters feed on native trout and the wood ducks thrive, to the great diversity of the trees and other plants. The American chestnut leaves I've collected for some of my art work have come from the many sprouts that continue to try to grow from the old root stock. Unfortunately, before the trees reach maturity they'll be stricken by the chestnut blight that was responsible for changing the nature of the eastern forests during the 20h century. This young tree is one I've watched and photographed a number of times in the past couple of years. Sadly at this visit, there's evidence that the blight is taking its toll.

Over the past decade I've taken probably thousands of photographs there, as well as made many drawings and paintings of views both large and small. The place is incredibly beautiful. And now, with Noel and Patrick putting 121 acres of the land into a conservation easement, it will never be developed in the ever increasing breaking up of the mountain land into smaller lots that happens at a seemingly increasing pace in this part of the world.

This trip I spent less time behind my camera and more time sitting in the woods near one of the falls, given the name Dorothy's Falls in honor of Noel's mother. Even through the drought is making quite an impact on the water flow, the spot is still beautiful.

A number of hemlock trees surround the falls, along with tulip poplar, frasier magnolias, white pines, maples, and many others that I can't identify with my rudimentary skills.

There are also mountain laurel and rhododendron of several types around the falls.  Lots of laurel hells on the property, in fact.  George Ellison wrote about "balds" and "laurel hells" in this Smoky Mt. News article of 2001.

Galax surrounds several of the trees...there's quite a lot of galax throughout the woods.

Almost every day while there I also made a small sketch of a view I saw as I sat on the front porch.  One or both of the dogs were usually out there with me.  The cats would come and go and the hummingbirds zipped around the feeders constantly.

Two days were exceptions to these little drawings...last Saturday when I came back to Dahlonega for the opening of our exhibit at Kryder Gallery when I didn't have time to do one, and the view done inside on the evening of the day we went back out into the "real" world so Thomas could pick up some NC pulled pork barbeque at a local market. 

Now, I don't eat that stuff myself since I'm vegetarian! But I surely did enjoy each day's meals of wonderful organically grown vegetables, products of Noel & Patrick's hard labor throughout the growing season!! I think I've eaten my weight in cucumbers and tomatoes over the past few days, along with broccoli, cauliflower, and squash. And, the fruit! Plums, blueberries, and the last of the blackberries, peaches beginning to ripen, and we even found one small Golden Blushing ready to be eaten as we walked through the woods.

Noel and Patrick's animals, for whom we were sitting while they were away, are great fun.  Two bearded collies, Erika and Parker, got me up at the break of dawn every morning...and this allowed me to see a a fantastically colored sunrise the other morning.  

Their two cats, Macaroni and Professor, kept us entertained with their antics, from chasing butterflies in the garden to taking a nap in the hammock along with my husband.

And the chickens kept us fed with fresh eggs daily...happy chickens who eat windfall fruit, kitchen scraps from organically grown food,  scratch and other feed.  They have a spacious pen and hen house, carefully screened in from roaming wildlife.  This visit we didn't experience anything other than the hummingbirds in the day, and the frogs in the evening...but Noel and Patrick have had experiences there with copperheads, black bears, and wild pigs!

I'm so grateful that N & P feel they can trust my husband and me with the care of their animals as they take a rare trip together.  We take their trust very seriously and work hard while we're there to make sure all's well when they return.  Yet, we both have time to spend with what we need for R&R ourselves...sleeping, reading, sleeping some more, fishing some, deviling the cats some, more sleep, more fishing for my husband.

 And studio work of assorted kinds for me, from continuing the fiddlehead tapestry for a few more inches (I'd left my loom at Noel's after the recent Guild demo weekend), to the drawings and paintings done each day.  

All in all, it was a retreat for us both and now we're back, mostly ready, willing and able to move on with our lives here.