Monday, September 24, 2012

New Look!

A whole new look!

Wow, it has been two years since my paradigm shift that led me to this mountain and new life. A lot has happened! Edrianna and I packed up our home of 25 years, moved to a new state and town and changed our way of living, immersing more into nature with a simpler lifestyle.
This all sprang from a vision quest I went on in West Virginia in 2010 called “Hero’s Journey”. I had some pretty profound experiences, both mental and physical that challenged my very soul. The major result of my journey was learning to find my bliss. For me this meant reconnecting to nature and disconnecting from some of the distractions of this modern world.
This article is my way of checking in and updating my family and friends on where I am today. Our home is pretty near completion and we are settling into our “Greener” life. We were successful in creating an efficient home without disturbing our new environment. We made it through the first winter utilizing our solar heating system for a large portion of our heating needs. We made it through this summer without the need of air conditioning. Being at 3500 feet elevation was key and we consciously choose not to install AC. There were only a few slightly uncomfortable days, however we managed well. Our garbage output has been reduced to a bag ever three weeks or so because of our recycling and composting efforts. Even though our property is challenging to enter and exit, we still use our Toyota Prius as our main vehicle, using our truck for short runs or the hardware store and traveling in the snow.
This spring we ventured out into the community and became involved with our neighborhood community center. We are now part of a bluegrass band, me playing guitar and singing and Edrianna playing hammered dulcimer and singing-lots of fun. Our group plays on Tuesday evening and we play several gigs a year, mostly for charity. We made a bold move and did not connect to cable TV. A very smart move! We have a rabbit ears antennae hooked to the TV and pick up PBS, weather radar and a couple local channels which disconnects us from hours in front of the tube and now we either build a fire in the fire pit, play games, watch a movie or read-way more productive.
I am officially semi-retired and have kept a few of my favorite clients from the past 30 years and Edrianna is building her healing practice and conducting workshops. When not working we are still working on construction and outside projects. Our free time during the week is now increasing and we are exploring the area, looking for new adventures. I dedicate this revised Blog for documenting these new adventures.

We are starting to explore the numerous hiking trails in the area. These shots are near Mount Pisgah off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

There is an restaurant at 5000 ft. Very good food and this great view from the dining table.

Saw lots of butterflies on our hikes.

We've talked about camping on the far side of the property and we finally did it. We picked an excellent spot for a campsite and spent one Sunday cleaning it up.

Our new 'Spirit" fire pit under way.

Our fire pit has 12 stones; 4 representing the 4 directions and then 2 stone between each.

Time for a break!

Settling in for our first night with a nice fire.

We have been sort of "urbanized" over the years, so we were a little apprehensive camping with having a yard full of bears and coyotes. We made it thru the night without being eaten. "There is nothing to fear but fear itself"

This is another area of the Blue Ridge Parkway called Craggy Gardens.

A short walk and the scenery changes completely.

Blueberry bushes on the trail.

Wild flowers are all over the place on the parkway during summer.

Oh Yea, we bought a canoe (very green) for exploring the many lakes and rivers in the area.
Here we are at Lake Julian in Asheville.

Just hanging out!

This is at Lake Lure. The mountain behind me is called Chimney Rock.

I mentioned the Hero's Journey earlier. I returned this summer for some new adventures.
This is our crew. The white dog just showed up to watch over us. I have showed just a couple of pictures so as not to give away any of the fun. If you want to know more please feel free to ask me.
Edrianna went on her second journey a week after me.

Did you notice that we both sat in the same spot to have our picture taken (see the swinging bridge below)?

In between our fun I'm still working on finishing up the house. The bedroom cabinets and drawers was my last project for upstairs. Next is outside and then the basement.

Edrianna's Watermelon Pie is now an award winning dessert! I told her it would be a hit.
(I keep reminding Jim that there were only two pie entries in the dessert contest at our community center annual picnic - and he keeps saying, "A win's a win!")

Persistence pays off.
We keep telling people about the Bob Cat that we've see on our property. "Bob" finally visited again and I had my camera ready. Edrianna whistled to him as he was heading away from the house and he turned to look as any curious cat would do. You think your cat has attitude....

We have more projects and adventures in the works - stay tuned!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

One Year Update

One Year Update:
We broke ground a year ago in June. We officially moved in after Thanksgiving and feel like the big projects have been accomplished. Here are a few of the finish up jobs and some things we have been up to in between.
Jim finished the fireplace. It came out great. He used stones from our property, gluing them to a sub-surface of mortar over metal lath and then grouting them with mortar. Jim made the mantel anchors when we were in Florida, so they made the move with us. The mantel had to be redone to fit the width of the wood burning stove.

Jim finished off the fencing with this mountain laural arbor. It helps direct people to the front door instead of the utility room.

Jim's sister, Cindy, gave him a wood burner for his birthday and he used it on the gate to the arbor.

This is what our front "yard" looks like to date.

Jim finished his office/music studio with built-ins.

Eventhough I still have projects to do inside, I ventured out and started building a labrynth in the back yard over the drain field.

The path will eventually be covered with a soft plants you can easily walk on (clover or something like it) and the lines dividing the path will be flowers. I've also been tending my herb garden which is doing great. I'm adding fresh herbs to just about every meal and making lots of pesto variations.

I found this animal print in my herb garden. Not sure if it is a bear, bobcat or the elusive cougar that has been spotted several times in our area. We have seen the bear two more times since our first encounter. Once during the evening when he was trying to get into our compost barrell, and one more time after we had gone to bed. We were awaken by banging noises. He was on the deck trying to get at the bird feeder. It is too far from the ground for him to reach and not close enough to the deck to be reached - even with a good jump! The squirrels haven't even attempted it yet.

No, these didn't come from my herb garden...We joined a local CSA (Community Assisted Agraculture). We are getting a big batch of fresh vegetables every other week until the end of October from Cane Creek Asparagus Company.

 We have also ventured out to get to know our neighbors a bit. This was a work day at Spring Mountain Community Center. We replace all the old plaground mulch with a truck load of new mulch.
It was a huge truck load - see the 18 wheeler.

Spring arrived and the birds took full advantage of the feeder.

The Carolina Gold Finch, one of the birds we see all the time at the feeder with his new family.

We have a pair of Ruby Throated humming birds that visit all day long.

Jim named this squrrel Lazy Bonz. He comes around each day. After staring at the feeder for a while and trying to calculate how to attack it, he finally gives out and takes a nap.
We also have a few chipmonks that pick up lots of seed from the ground but they are too quick and won't stop and pose for a photo.

Since we have accomplished a lot of the inside projects we are starting to venture out onto our property more. This beautiful moth was down by the creek.

While my brother Jay and his wife Janine were visiting, Jay spotted two owls in the trees outside our living room windows. Janine had seen something earlier fly from one tree to another during dinner. After closer observation we figured out they were two baby Barred owls. Their parents flew in very briefly to feed them in between their cries for food. They stayed for about a week and then made their way deeper into the woods. It was totally AWESOME!

This little box turtle made an appearance one day - making its way through the front yard and over the rocks near the bird bath.

 Every day feels like an episode of Wild Kingdom - maybe I should say Animal Planet. Wild Kingdom kind of dates us.

We went to our nephew's college graduation - Go Tar Heels!
Congratulations Andrew.
In June his brother graduated from High School.
Congratulations J.T.

We took a trip to Deltona to hear Jane sing in the Orlando Gay Chorus. She sings with the whole group and with a smaller ensemble called Nothin' But Treble. They were so good!

Jim, Jane and I flew out to Washington to visit our friend Theresa who lives in Levenworth with her husband Richard. We were having fun on the local theatre group's Sound of Music stage.

This shot was at Pike's Market in Seattle. Richard insisted we sit on the pig and have our picture taken because "all" tourists do it.

This is us in front of the original STARBUCKS - for all you coffee fans.

Here is a waterfall on one of the many hikes we did while visiting Theresa and Richard.

Since we are getting settled in I've started setting up and running some Fundamentals of Brennan Healing Science workshops and my healing practice is growing.

We threw a "thank you" party for everyone who worked on our house. We invited everyone but because it was summer and lots of people were working or had conflicts only a few were able to come.

Our neighbors, Doris and Jerry Lytle, let us know that the blackberries were ripening by their barn and invited us to pick as many as we wanted. We hiked out to find them and discovered tons of berries ripening on our property as well. We picked a few and I made a peach/blackberry cobbler and some tarts - oh my goodness good!
 A few days later we were surprised to find a jar of blackberry jelly and a lot of vegetables on our utility room porch from Doris and Jerry's garden.
Yum! Yum!

I thought, "We might be able to make jelly."
We picked up all the supplies we would need and then went picking.
We picked on a rainy day, which turned out to be a smart idea. There were a lot less gnats and flies and not as hot. We could tell the bear had been there earlier because a lot of the bramble had been pressed down creating some paths for us.
We picked for 2 1/2 hours, till the weight of the berries were crushing the ones below. We measure when we got home and had about 16 cups - plenty for jelly or jam.
Jim prefers seeds so we went with jam.  

The whole process - from picking to finished jam - took about 6 hours.
We used 8 cups of berries to make jam and put the rest in the frig and freezer for smoothies and pies.

We ended up with nine 8 oz jars of blackberry jam.
We now have a great appreciation for homemade jams and jellies.

That's it for this episode of Little House on the Mountain
Good night John Boy.....

Yes, I know that is a different show!