Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 - A Photo Review

It has been a year to remember for weather, experiences, losses and change.
I am taking one  photo from each month to highlight the year - in celebration and a chance to reminisce.

 In January we had a severe ice storm and lost power for 4 days.  It was a winter never to forget. We had moved here to get away from the heavy snows of the High Country - it seemed they followed us!

Another ice storm in February plus more snow than the area had ever seen in years - 38" to be exact.  Normally we get 12" for the whole season!

Unlike in my native Massachusetts when the snows last forever or so it seems, here  March brought flowers and blooms galore. Our daffodils were a welcome sight.

By April the dogwoods were in bloom and winter was forgotten.

In May our neighbor's goats were having kids int the pasture across from us.  I witnessed two births this past spring. How cool is that?

The summer brought warmer weather - much warmer with days in the 90's.  Hiking was put off until it cooled a bit but we did manage to go to Conamarra to hike the their trails to the ridge line in June.

In July we hit the streets of Asheville for the huge Belle Chere festival with art, music food and lots of fun. We hooked up with old  friends from the High Country and had a great visit.

August was still quite warm and we headed to a cool spot in Brevard to hike to Moores Cove Falls.

Our organic garden gave us plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, onions and lettuce this year and we have plans for a bigger garden in 2011.

Fall in the mountains is breath taking and this view from the Parkway showing Mount Mitchell is exquisite. Hard to take a bad photo of the colors.

The unusually warm temperatures carried into November as well but then it was welcome.  I visited the River Arts District during their annual open house and had a wonderful time exploring all the galleries.

 We chose and cut our own Christmas tree this year, driving out to Leicester on a cool crisp day.  Rosa is enjoying the fragrance and secretly wishing she could play with the ornaments.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. 
I will leave you with the words of Ellen Goodman:

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not looking for flaws, but for potential.  

Camera Critters

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Snow (With Photos)

(Sorry if you visited and the pictures were missing - seems like I had to buy more storage to add photos to my blog and it took all day to process my purchase!)

Looks like the bulk of the country got some snow for a Christmas gift this year!  We got 8" but just an hour west of us in the higher mountains they got over 2 feet!  We normally get 12" all season! It started on Christmas morning and was very pretty - a nice snow to walk in. Our home faces a lovely pasture with ponies and goats that belongs to our neighbor.  The ponies enjoyed the early snow but when the winds picked up and the temperatures dropped they headed for the barn and we have not seen any of them until today.

Garren Creek meanders through the pasture and follows our road for the seven mile length of our street.  Once the snow got heavier I took a walk down the street a ways to get some shots of the creek.

The snow is lovely but being house bound for three days while the DOT crews tried to plow the county out was not fun plus losing power off and on. It is supposed to be 50 degrees by Friday this week! Hard to believe. Hope you all are safe and warm until the snow removal guys get to you. And lucky you who don't have any of this white stuff!

Question for my readers - I am being told that I have exceeded my photo upload quota and must buy more storage - is this normal? Do I have to purchase more or is there a way around it? I have my photos on CDs plus on the hard drive - if I take them off the hard drive will this free me up? Thanks for your help! (Well I went ahead and bought more storage - the easy way out!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice Blessings and Holiday Wishes

We will be taking a short blogging break for the holidays.  Wishing you and your family a lovely, peaceful and happy holiday and winter solstice.  We are very thankful to have you all as followers and do enjoy your wonderful comments.  We hope to see you again in the New Year.  That's our Georgie posing with the Christmas antlers!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Photo Hunt - Male

Cars are masculine things - large, flashy and fast. The holidays are usually not the male domain but I have noticed some automobile decorations that might classify as male one altho I am sure the woman of the house helped out! I saw the one above in the mountains near Pineola, a few years back. Creative use for retired school bus to spread holiday cheer.

As I have been driving around town doing errands, I keep noticing this SUV decked out as Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer but never got to photograph it until I was at the Post Office today! After I took this pic, I kept seeing other cars and trucks with the antlers and nose on too! They made me smile!

And if cars don't signify male, then a snowman definitely does! These two sprouted out of the 4" snowfall we had a few days back. The first one sits at the end of our neighbor's driveway and the one below in front of the hair salon - I think those are curlers for hair!

A fellow blogger and animal rescuer is having a comment-a-thon this weekend on her blog to raise money for a larger cat shelter. Please stop by and leave a comment at Daily Dose of Dogs - a sponsor will donate 50 cents for each comment to her fund. It is a worthy cause!

Visit Photo Hunt for more male pics and Scenic Sunday for lovely scenes the world over. Happy weekend everybody. Stay safe, warm and give yourself time to rest, relax, play and enjoy the season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Arctic Blast and Dancing Santa

The lovely snow of Sunday turned into a raging Arctic blast with temps in the teens and wind chills below zero on Monday. Our average high for this time of year is 50 degrees! My holiday wreath blew off the door and when I went out to retrieve it I could not close the storm door against the wind. Gusts were said to be up to 60 miles an hour!

The leaves on our rhododendron bushes were tightly curled against the cold - they do that when the temps go below 30. The neighbors ponies and goats are snug in their barn and pretty much everyone was staying indoors unless they had to be outside. Not much snow accumulation but visibility was minimal with wind driven snow. Not quite the pretty scene from my last post! Makes me want to move back to Florida!

We had to make a supply run into town but it was slow going on icy roads with high winds. It was supposed to be partly sunny but we only saw a blurry dim sun through the clouds all day here. Welcome to my world! To see other parts of the world today visit My World Tuesday. For more wet shots - Watery Wednesday. For more outdoor shots - Outdoor Wednesday.

On a lighter note the video clip below was shown on You Tube of a local Asheville mail carrier who has been side lining as a break dancing Santa showing up at various spots in town and spontaneously breaking into a dance routine much to the surprise of the crowds!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Snow

Sunday morning we woke up to 4 inches of new fallen snow. The temperatures were not that cold so I get dressed and headed out with my camera.  It was wet snow, clinging tot the trees and shrubbery like  white frosting.  Our neighbors across the road have goats and ponies.  The ponies were out in their pasture in their woolly winter coats looking very perplexed - no grass to nibble on I guess.


The city officials said they would not plow the secondary roads until later that day so our neighbors got out their tractors and trucks and plowed most of it.  It did warm up a bit and melt but another storm with arctic temperatures and heavy winds arrived late Sunday night, but that is another post!

Let's hope this is not going to be a repeat of last winter! The beginning of this week looks to be snow days! Wishing you milder and warmer weather! Bon Hiver!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Helping Others

The tree is up and decorated and my cats are enjoying the gift wrapping, card writing activities. December is flying by and before you know it  Christmas will be here.  My friend Cat of Corner of Cat's Mind has promised to do acts of giving this month in honor of the season.  I would like to join her and do the same.  So many people and pets go without while we all have so much.  If all we do is donate money, time or clothing, blankets and food to one charity, it goes a long way.

I am an avid animal lover so I will be helping homeless pets out this week by featuring a sweet cat named Moosie who lost her human mom and cat brother not long ago.  She is an older cat and needs a forever home to live out the rest of her life.  Please read her story here and do what you can to help.

Since I provide a forever home to my rescued  feral cats, I am also donating 20% of the December income from my "Flea Market" blog to help a private animal rescuer build a larger cat shelter.  Please visit Wildcat Woods Vintage Treasures - I am sure you will find a great gift and be helping us and Chrystal's Rescue too. UPDATE - Over the weekend one of Chrystal's pet dogs (the rescue group I am sponsoring) was accidentally shot by deer hunters in her yard.  Waggles will be OK but now she has vet bills to pay too.  All the more reason to help her by donating or purchasing from my Vintage Treasures shop.

Thanks for stopping by and helping out. Wishing you all a very warm and wonderful holiday season!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sandy Hollar Farms, Leicester

Earlier this week my husband and I drove to the north western edge of the county to cut our own Christmas tree at Sandy Hollar Farms in Leicester.  It was a lovely drive to an area we had not visited before.  When we called for directions, they told us the mountain tops had gotten snow.  The farm is situated at the end of a large valley up against Sandy Mush Bald.

Crossing the creek we could see the expanse of the farm.  Along with growing Christmas trees and nursery stock, they also raise Texas longhorn cattle, sheep, goats and llamas.

Growing Christmas trees is one of the main industries in the mountains of North Carolina.  The main tree is Fraser Fir - a very dense fragrant tree with soft needles. (To learn more about the Fraser tree go here.) The farms begin to harvest the trees in late October, shipping them all over the country for the holidays.  Many farms have tree lots in the large cities where a family member mans the stand and lives out of a RV for weeks at a time.  By mid December, the season is over for them. They come home to rest and enjoy the holiday. Once cut, these trees can last months in a tree stand or as a wreath.  Fraser Firs only grow above 3000 feet in elevation. From the road there was a long driveway in to the trees.

Being a weekday, there was only one other car there.  It was also very cold and windy so I tried to make it quick.  I like my trees very full with a nice shape and found one very easily.  Fraser Firs are very pretty, lush trees and it is hard to find a misshaped one!

I staked out my tree and Don went to get the tree cutter. Some of you may not like to cut real trees but I feel that that like any farm crop, these trees are grown to become Christmas trees, wreaths and garland. If we don't buy it someone will and at least this one will get used and not cut and tossed because it was not sold.  After the holidays, I put my tree outside and decorate it with food for the wild birds.

The gift shop also carries centerpieces, wreaths, garland and lots of wool products - hats, shawls, scarves and rugs.  Hand made ornaments and holiday themed gifts filled the tiny shop, warmed by the wood stove in the back.

On weekends they offer hay rides and will give tours of the farm by appointment.  Hope you enjoyed our day.  We are very grateful for these farms that provide employment for our mountain residents and offer a wonderful holiday experience for all.


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