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CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - December 2014

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Cam

Journal Updated Wednesday night the 31st

12/01/14 Dark and drizzly. Our annual "25 PRINTS OF CHRISTMAS" special print event will begin later today. Each day for the next three weeks we will post a different photo that will be available as a special 2 x 3 foot poster size premium print for less than $100 - it is an incredible deal! (they fit in a standard 24" x 36" poster frame) There will be 25 different scenes available, none have ever been offered in this format before. These are not cheap posters, but rather a world-class print made one at a time on premium, heavyweight and beautiful photo paper (archival - guaranteed for life never to fade). Each image will be limited to only 25 prints. All prints will be shipped via Priority Mail within 24-48 hours (hint - they make great Christmas gifts!).

NEW THIS YEAR - Once each photo is posted, that image will be available at the special sale price until all 25 prints are ordered (in previous years it was only available for one day only). This will give you more time to decide. But if you wait too long, your favorite print may have sold out - so if you see one you like, your best bet is to order. Prints will be numbered as orders are received (i.e., the first order for a particular image will be #1/25, etc.).

We will post the new images both here and on Facebook. The first photo will be posted later today before we leave for our program in Russellville tonight...

12/04/14 An hour before our largest program of the year on Monday, my doctor told me it was "going to get a lot worse before I got better." Unfortunately, he was right. I picked up a bug in Illinois over the Thanksgiving holiday (same one a lot of folks have now I'm sure), and while I managed to get through the big program in Russellville, I had issues all day Tuesday and just barely made it through our program in Dover, which was the third program of either we are doing this week. We were on our way home from Dover when the illness peaked - it was late, and we encountered heavy fog the last hour of our drive home. My head began to throb and sweat, and I could hardly see the road - but the fog was so thick anyway I was able to manage at the low speeds we were having to drive. I just knew there was a deer out there waiting to become a hood ornament, but we only saw one.

When we got home, all of a sudden a great chill came over me, and I began to shiver uncontrollably. So much so that I had to stick a wash cloth in my mouth to keep from biting off my tongue. I put on a down coat and hat, and tried to keep from following over as I focused on watering a tree in the front yard (while the puppies were doing the same). I'd never experienced anything quite like this before, even in minus-69 degree temps in Alaska. Going inside our cabin to 70-degree temps didn't seem to help at all. I managed to make my way downstairs, past our caretaker's room, and out onto the back deck. We have a small hot tub out there, just enough room for two people. I managed to fall over once while trying to get my pants off - I actually laughed a bit since it seemed so funny at the time. Then I crawled into the steaming bubbles and a rush of warmth swept over me. It took several minutes, but the hot water finally penetrated my chilled core and the shivering stopped.

By the next morning I was feeling better, and it seemed like the short illness had peaked and I was on the mend - YIPPIE!!! That's a good thing, since I had already nearly lost my voice, and I really need my voice this week. I got up at 3-something this morning to get to work, and it will be after midnight before we get back home from our Conway program - so a 22-hour+ work day for us today. Tomorrow will be much the same as we travel up to Springfield for two programs, then onto Bentonville Saturday, and Little Rock Sunday - each day driving back home to reprint, restock, and recycle. Our caretaker is able to take care of the cabin and puppies (hence the name "caretaker" ey!), but we always have a lot of work to do in between programs to keep the online store, wholesale business, and printing business flowing smoothly (THANK GOODNESS for my lovely bride, who does most of the work!).

We had really great programs in both Fayetteville and Russellville to start off our long week, and helped celebrate the accomplishments of student photographers at our Dover program too. SO GREAT to see so many friends and make new ones at these programs!

On our way to Dover Tuesday night we drove an hour through what was perhaps one of the greatest natural spectacles I've ever witnessed. Conditions had been just right for "hoar frost" to form, and it had built up over more than 30 hours. Every inch of the landscape as far as we could see in all directions was pure white and covered with up to two inches of the delicate hoar frost. It was pretty much unbelievable as we drove and drove and drove. WOW!!! Hoar frost is the result of frost freezing and forming crystals, typically all growing on one side of a tree or branch or fence wire or post or whatever.

Two problems with the incredible hoar frost spectacle - first, it was difficult to drive since I wanted to look in ALL directions all the time! Second, I was unable to stop and take even a single picture of any of it. If I had had a camera, and was in physical shape to be able to do so, I would have never made it to our Dover program as I would have been out taking pictures! So I have nothing to show you - but hopefully many of you were up in the High Ozarks and were able to experience it for yourself. Simply STUNNING!

This morning I took the puppies on a walk around the mountain through more and more thick fog. I LOVE fog! (although not so much when driving) Trees everywhere looked especially nice this morning - rows upon rows of them towering up into the fog in the forest - their tops disappearing into the sky. And many individual trees that live in nearby meadows would gradually come into view as we approached. I LOVE individual trees in thick fog! You might get the feeling that it was great to be out roaming around in the woods again, something I've not been able to do in a while. Like most hikes this one ended too soon, and we are headed back into program mode and looking forward to CONWAY in a few hours!

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12/09/14 Mia and I have been walking in the woods tonight (Wilson is tucked away in bed). It is clear and calm and BRIGHT! A 3/4 moon rose above the eastern horizon and really lit up the place, casting shadows of interesting shapes and squiggles. I stopped to listen, and didn't hear a thing - not even a whisper from the river far below. No hoot owls. Nor coyotes. Just the quiet of the night.

We SURVIVED our 10-days on the road marathon, which included 8 programs in 7 towns in 8 days (coming home at the end of each day to recycle, repack, process orders, and try to keep up with the pace of business). It was actually easier than we had expected, and I if had not gotten clobbered by a virus and then a double-wammy the last two days with a severe allergy attack, it would have been OK. But those two items turned it into a misery for me - and especially for my lovely bride who had to take care of and PUT UP with me! She is a saint for sure, and how she managed to do everything is beyond me. But I guess that is what we do, that is what most folks do - you deal with whatever life throws at ya.

It has been kind of weird - but in a good way on both sides. Each day I spend a couple of hours in intense conversation - both one-on-one up close and personal, and speaking to a packed room of a couple hundred folks. And then boom, everyone leaves, and we pack up and leave, and until the next day when we are back with a new crowd, Pam and I hardly say a word to anyone other than to each other - nor do we see anyone else other than each other or our caretaker. My voice was gone for a couple of days, but I managed. Pam had to drive the bookmobile a time or two when I was so exhausted I could not keep my eyes open. The weather gods have been good to us, and we're keeping our fingers crossed for just another weeeeekkkk, then let it SNOW, let it snow, let it snow!

The new slide program has stuck a chord with folks, and it has been a treat to watch and listen and meet all who have come to see the show - so many wonderful folks you are! Tomorrow we begin a four-day mini-marathon with three programs in three towns (Clarksville, Benton, and Harrison), and end with our 3rd Canvas Prints Gallery Open House here on Saturday. Then just one more program in Ft. Smith next week and we will be done for the 2014 program season - although it will spill into 2015 with three programs in January - and a major print exhibit at John Brown University.

The puppies have been faring well - in fact we think our caretaker may be slipping them TOO MANY extra treats while we are gone - both pups have put on a growth spurt! The other night - one of three where we didn't get home until after midnight - we discovered a new pet in the living room - an ARMADILLO! One of the pups had drug it in through the little dog door somehow - while Joseph slumbered in his room below. You should have seen the look on my wife's face! And just to be sure - the armored critter was not alive.

This has been one of the longest stretches I can remember with no sunshine and so much fog. In fact the full moon came and went without me even seeing it - even though we were out on the road many long night hours. And tonight it looks so fresh and clean up there in the sky, and seems to have a smile on its face.

 

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Hickory nuts on the ground - we need more squirrels!

12/15/14 When I saw a red light glowing in the pre-dawn darkness inside the cabin I knew something was up. It was our DSL light - oops! The storm that rolled through last night knocked out all our phone lines and the internet. We are heavily dependent on the internet these days for most order processing and shipping, and without it we are dead in the water. Luckily, my lovely bride had spent most of her "day off" yesterday processing and packing up orders, so almost all of them went out to the mailbox on time today. It wasn't until late afternoon that the phone lines began to sing again, and along with them the internet. I rigged up a makeshift office in the Bookmobile, using the cell phone signal antenna I had installed late last summer - on the end of a 12-foot tall pole. But even with that rig, cell service is still spotty, which is to be expected out here in the wilderness.

We got a huge surprise in the middle of today - AMBER showed up - YIPPIE, COYOTE! She will be with us this week, but unfortunately will head north back to her house across the border before Christmas. But it is always a present having her around! In fact the puppies thought so today too - all of them spent most of the afternoon playing and hiking and having a grand time. The cabin filled with holiday music, presents being wrapped (FYI, puppies LOVE wrapping paper!), and hum - what happened to all those cookies?

Then when the phone and internet came back on again, Amber pitched in to help her mom process new orders for shipment tomorrow. We try to always get orders out the door within 24 hours, and especially so this time of year.

Pam and I took a short break yesterday as the puppies led us over the hill, through the woods, across the meadow, to the pond for a bit of SWIMMING! Wilson has the spirit of Aspen inside him - he just loves to swim and splash around. Mia is more like Lucy, and will run and run and RUN! This has caused her legs to grow at least an inch this past week - she continues to grow up, but not out.

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Wilson gathering a little firewood - GOOD DOG!

My lovely bride and I both have always loved John Denver - his music, and the man himself. (I played/sang a John Denver song to Pam - with a few words added - while I proposed to her back in October, 2000). The day he died I moved speakers out onto the back deck of the cabin here and played his music non-stop for 24 hours. John Denver music has shaped my outlook on life and feelings about wilderness more than any other, including the Beatles. A lot of what I've done in my life I owe to him - including starting up the Ozark Highlands Trail Association and building the OHT - a great deal of the ideas and inspiration came directly from John Denver.

Anyway, I watched a John Denver concert special on AETN over the weekend, which sent me into a John Denver sort of mood - and led to many hours of research deeper into his life. I stumbled across an interview with John's first wife, Annie, who he wrote one of his most meaningful songs about (utube interview here, one of many utube listings of Annie's Song here). The interview was done and aired the day after Denver's death, and I was surprised how together she was on air at such a tragic moment - she showed her class to the world, how much she loved and admired John Denver, and how much she deserved that song. WAY TO GO ANNIE!

I spent a great deal of time this past weekend thinking about those two wonderful people, listening to his music, reading about their life together, reliving the good times and dreaming about the future. And then something really weird happened. When I sat down at the kitchen table this morning to autograph a pile of books that were being shipped today (paperwork processed yesterday when we still had internet), I did a double-take when the first autograph was to - you guessed it - ANNIE! And while it obviously was not to THE Annie, I could feel a connection in it all - just a little more John Denver in the airwaves here...(The book was ordered by one person, sent to someone else in a different state, and neither were named Annie, but she is who the book was to be given to - I hope the special note I wrote to her will put her into a John Denver state of mind...)

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Mia and Wilson (Wilson is actually about twice the size of Mia)

12/17/14 It is crispy-cool this morning, with lots of color all along the eastern horizon well before dawn. It feels SO GREAT outside - an air that I love to take deep into my lungs and hold for a while. I think it may be super-charged with tiny frozen crystals. Hum, an omen of things to come perhaps?

Our holiday program season ended with a bang in Ft. Smith last night - we had a packed room with so many wonderful people - THANKS TO EVERYONE who attended! This was our most difficult season ever and really pushed us and our resources to the limit - and sometimes beyond (17 programs in 15 cities in less than a month, making the long drive home each night). But getting to see so many smiling faces at each program made it all worth while - which as I noted last night, is the main reason we do these programs. Did I say THANKS TO EVERYONE who attended yet? We really do appreciate each and every one of you!

And on another note - there is a springtime bird just outside the cabin singing right now as dawn breaks across the wilderness. I guess that means that spring can't be too far away, ey?! I hope not - winter in Arkansas is a terrific season and can bring so many wonderful scenes and experiences - OR it can be icy and a mess like last winter - fingers crossed for lots of snow this year...

Speaking of winter, our caretaker has moved back to his own home (DOUBLE-THANKS for keeping watch on our cabin and puppies man!). And much to our GREAT DELIGHT, our daughter has come home to stay for a few days - it has been SO NICE having her here! As we were packing up to leave yesterday she built a fire in the fireplace, and by the time we left we had the cabin all warmed up, and the puppies laying quietly in front of the hearth! Family is certainly one of the great things about the holidays. (Soon after we left, she began the long process of studying for the CPA exam, so I don't think her holiday will be so great!)

We will continue to run at full throttle here thru Sunday, filling Christmas orders and doing our last Open House of the year on Saturday. We also have to put together 30 prints for our upcoming print exhibit at John Brown University beginning on January 20th. Pam will continue to process and ship all orders within 24 hours, so if you still need a Christmas gift or two for a loved one - OR FOR YOURSELF - it will be shipped right away.

And a reminder about our 25 PRINTS OF CHRISTMAS special we have going on right now - you can view and order any or all of the 25 prints until this coming Saturday the 20th - and those will be shipped by Monday. After Saturday any orders for these special poster-size prints won't ship until after January 1st. I must say that these prints are quite SPECTACULAR!!!

OK, time to get back to work - it is hump day, and I hope you have a great one - and also hope you can take time to step outside and breathe in some of that super-charged cool air...

12/21/14 Just a quick note before I sign off for a week or so. Our year has come to an end with a flurry of programs, open houses, and print sales - and oh yes, a CHRISTMAS FEAST at Grandma's house today, YIPPIE COYOTE! This has been a near-record year for all of our activities, and as always it has been just wonderful to see so many folks during our travels, and at our gallery. And best of all, our daughter is even home from school - DOUBLE YIPPIE COYOTE!

It has been cool and pretty foggy of late, but things seem to be clearing out a little bit. I rather like those foggy, misty days - no, more like LOVE them! But I've almost been so busy as not to have been able to get out and enjoy too much - although the puppies calling out each morning to go HIKE have helped get me out the door and into the fresh air. Speaking of the puppies, they have drug in not one, but TWO nearly-complete deer skeletons. I guess we can't complain - we buy them chew toys made from bone and various other animal parts, so why not let them run forth and find free ones in the forest! We just had to laugh out loud when one of the complete deer spines was left half way through the dog door into the living room - one of the leg bones still attached at one end prevented Wilson from dragging the entire thing into the cabin. Needless to say my lovely bride has not been amused, but like most everything else around here, she had adapted, and even has a special place where she is collecting them - a Cloudland bone yard - or rather bone drum. And another armadillo shell showed up too.

But last night was really interesting. Since today was Pam's families's official Christmas day, that would make last night Christmas eve. About 2-3 in the morning we heard quite a clatter, with the puppies going nuts, and both girls up and wondering what was going on. I searched the cabin from top to bottom, inside and out, and we never did figure out what was making the noise. We did conclude that the noise probably came from the laundry chute that runs from the loft down into the basement. And all we could think of was that Santa had tried to drop down the laundry chute instead of the chimney! There were no cookies or milk waiting for him there, but maybe he did a load of laundry.

We've getting up in a few hours and leaving about 2am tomorrow - I've got a date with a shoulder surgeon in Little Rock for another shoulder operation. We hope to be back at the cabin by dark or soon after, and then I'll spend the next few weeks hibernating in the basement - only coming out to go to Harrison for rehab a couple of times a week. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to type, but at least I will have plenty of TIME to catch up on my reading and writing. Although Santa got me five seasons of The Good Wife so I may just sit back and watch (I'm a newcomer to the series, and have not seen any of the early years).

Pam will continue to run the book and order processing business just like she always does, so continue to place orders as usual. I'll probably be able to autograph and personalize books in just a few days (my writing hand will be OK). And Pam and make the Prints Of The Week and get them shipped out as usual. I won't be able to do any large print work though, nor make canvas prints for a while. And I'll be slow to answer e-mail, at least for the first week or two. But most importantly, I probably won't post a new cabin cam picture from the back deck for a few days, although I will try and get a snapshot taken and posted as soon as I'm able.

So that will take us through you own Christmas eve and day, and all of us here at Cloudland want to wish ALL OF YOU the very best Merry Christmas ever - and as Johnny Lennon put it - "Have a very happy Christmas, and a happy New Year, let's hope it's a good one, without any tears."

12/31/14 It's new year's eve and 2014 is winding down. I'm working late trying to get final prints made for our exhibit that will open at John Brown University on January 20th - they will pick up about 30 prints here next week for the exhibit, so I have to get all my ducks lined up for travel. The night air is cool and crisp and just beautiful! I generally prefer cool air to warm. At one point after sunset tonight during that magical twilight hour when the landscape slips off to sleep, I stopped and sat on one of the swings in the middle of the circle drive between the print room and our cabin - paused a few minutes just to suck in some of that wonderful air. All our animals gathered around me, and I watched in the dim light as they romped and played and enjoyed each other. In fact even the Fat Cat rubbed noses with both Wilson and Mia - the puppies never learned to be mad at cats just because they were cats, so they all get along quite nicely. Hum, might be a lesson in that for us highly-evolved humans...

For those who aren't interested in details, I'll give a quick recap of the past ten days at the cabin, then bid you ado, with wishes for a wonderful 2015 - THANKS for spending time here during your busy year. My shoulder surgery went well, very well in fact, and I was off the heavy meds by Christmas, and am already well advanced with my rehab and physical therapy. There was considerable damage inside my shoulder that required a fair amount of bone scraping and other work by the surgeon, but fortunately there was no rotator cuff tear - the main reason why my rehab and recovery are going so well. The damage was caused by a decade of intense competitive swimming, followed by a couple decades of even more intense and damaging trail construction using hand tools. There were times when out there pounding in the rocks with a pulaski for hours and hours on end, when my arms would go numb for weeks at a time - that I knew I was doing some sort of damage - and it finally came home to roost. I won't be able to lift anything with my wounded wing for another month or two, but my range of motion is already up to 50-75% - YIPPIE COYOTE! There was no Christmas at Cloudland this year - I was confined to a chair in the basement, and it was the first year ever that my lovely bride was without Amber - those two things, combined with being totally exhausted mentally and physically after the most difficult and stressful business periods in our history (we worked right up until it was time to drive to Little Rock for the surgery), left us kind of numb and, well, exhausted to the bone. We are now trying to catch up and catch our breaths, and look forward to an exciting new year ahead...

OK, back to Sunday night the 21st. I spent the evening getting my affairs in order, and packing up the largest print order of the year that would be shipped the next day via UPS. Also making sure any remaining Christmas Print orders were packed and ready for Santa to pickup. It was 9pm before I laid down for a few winks. The alarm went off at 1am on the 22nd, and by 2am we were all loaded and headed towards Little Rock, stopping by the warehouse to leave the UPS shipment, and filling the mailbox with orders headed out. With surgery a few hours away, I was not allowed anything to drink since 9pm - like coffee, or even water - and with so little sleep, I struggled a bit to keep the car between the ditches. Fortunately we almost immediately ran into a wall of fog - we could barely see the road a few feet in front of us. It was a slow drive to the southern edge of the Ozark Mountains, where we finally dropped down out of the fog and into the river valley at Clarksville. Somehow the difficulty of that drive energized me, and it was smooth (and wide-awake) sailing to Little Rock. We were first in line when they opened the doors to the surgery center at 5:30am.

All aspects of the surgery seemed easier this time, and before long I was waking up in recovery and getting dressed for the trip back home. I don't remember much about all of this during my first shoulder operation several years ago, but I was wide awake and clear-headed even before my lovely bride appeared in the recovery room. I was a little worried about her - she only had a few hours of sleep also, and now had to make the long drive back home with a "backseat" driver to deal with!

We stopped at Russellville to get pain pills at our pharmacy (Cobb Pharmacy - wonderful folks to deal with!). Pam had stopped at ChickFilet and grabbed some lunch, but she got a little concerned while inside waiting for the scripts to be filled when she saw me sneaking a french fry or two. In fact it appeared to her that I was eating ALL of her fries - something that would not have been good for me, or good for her either. When she came out to check on me she discovered that I had only been munching on the tiny "baglers" at the bottom of the fry box - I like those the best! It just took me two or three tries for each one I was able to dig out, so it appeared I was eating them all. I had one small chicken nugget as well - I knew not to overdo food consumption having just come out of surgery. Since I had been such a good boy up to that time, she brought me a chocolate bar from the pharmacy - oh my goodness, it was SO TASTY! (a sure sign I was already beginning to recover)

Amber had stayed home to be with the dogs and help get me all settled into my recovery room - a recliner placed right in front of the TV in the basement. I would live there until I was able to get up and around on my own. I was used to this set up - having spent about a month there after my last operation. Poor Pam - seems like I was calling out to her every few minutes to bring me something, or do something, or help me with something - she made at least 25 trips down to help me the first afternoon/evening - I HATE having to be waited on! But I knew it was all part of the recovery, and didn't have much of a choice. However by the end of that first day I was able to make it across the room, down the hall, and into the bathroom all my myself - YIPPIE! (although Pam was close behind the first dozen times just in case) 'Tis amazing how triumphant one feels when you are able to pull your pants up by yourself the first time!

I almost immediately began watching the first season of The Good Wife that Pam had gotten me for Christmas. I wasn't going to get much sleep anyway having to take a pain pill every few hours, so I might as well watch TV, keeping the sound down so the girls could sleep - although I don't think Pam got much, as there was a little radio next to her pillow in case I needed anything.

By mid-morning on day two I was well into The Good Wife, and into the pain pills too. Then it was time for Amber to head back home to Springfield. As luck would have it, the brand new battery in her car was dead - nothing. And her car was parked head-in to the carport with no way for jumper cables to reach. I always carry one of those big, heavy jump start batteries - in fact I'd used them during this past year to power my cameras and dew heaters all night. I had a good laugh - and a Cloudland Moment - when I sent Amber literally crawling into the belly of the bookmobile to fetch one of these batteries to jump start her car with. While crawling on the floor she disappeared back under the bed in the back of the van. Most kids would keep up a steady stream of complaints, but instead a quote came from under the bed that was classic Amber - "This is just like SPELUNKING!" (she loves to go caving, something I wish I had done a lot more of with her - but you know...) That was my Cloudland Moment - knowing she was so happy with her life, at ease with the world, and was heading out on her own with the right attitude about life - such a positive note instead of a scowl. I could not have been more proud of this young lady that has already come so far - she will impact oh so many lives. We got her car started and she motored off north back to her new home - and to her second internship, which will be with the same CPA firm where she will begin fulltime work this coming summer.

On day three Pam removed the bandages and I did my first bit of rehab, and was able to move my arm around a bit without too much pain. I had moved off of the heavy-duty pain pills to a much lower dose, and the TV got a lot clearer as a result. And I got to take a SHOWER! We had a customer that day who wanted one of the Christmas Prints but did not order it in time before the surgery. I HATE to disappoint, so Pam picked me up at the front of the cabin and drove me over to the gallery (I was not able to walk that far), and we managed to get the print made. It was kind of funny to watch how we removed the big print from the printer - it takes a certain technique and a bit of physicalness to make this happen (which I was not able to do with one arm), and I was able to talk Pam through it without damage to the print. We got it all packed up and on its way. Then Pam drove me back to the cabin. We always try to do whatever it takes to please a customer.

December 25th, day 4. It was dark and gloomy on Christmas morning, and there was little joy at Cloudland. It was the first time EVER that Amber was not with Pam. I was of little help, but made it through the first season of The Good Wife and started on the next one. We didn't really have Christmas at Cloudland at all this year - our marathon program season and open houses led right up to the last weekend, and then my surgery. The girls did have family Christmas at grandma's house on the 21st (and I got to EAT some fine cooking before getting back to work). But Pam had been so covered up with our schedule and running the businesses (she NEVER missed a single order deadline - way to go BUNKIE!), that there simply was no time left to decorate, or to sit back and relax and enjoy the season - 'tis the nature of our business. And we realized that we had not even put up a tree - so Pam went to town and got a little table-top tree, and that was all the decorations we had.

We DID get to go out for a hike on Christmas Day. It was a short one - just up the road and into the woods a little bit. But it was a wonderful time for me that included a Cloudland Moment. It was chilly, foggy, and misting, and I moved slow and shuffled my feet through the soft forest floor. At one point my lovely bride stopped, we held hands, silently, and just soaked in each other. It had been a long year, and I knew her heart was breaking without Amber here, but somehow she was the one who was providing me with strength, comfort, and encouragement - I know of no greater joy than having her in my life.

The next few days the more I was able to move my arm during rehab the more painful it got, but I continued to progress quickly beyond my previous operation's schedule. And soon the day came to return to Little Rock to visit the doctor and access my condition ( day 9). I discovered just how ROUGH the county road is out here, and by the time we reached the highway, my arm and shoulder were little more than raw hamburger, burning and throbbing all the way. I was given the go ahead to ditch my arm/shoulder brace, and to continue doing physical therapy at home daily instead of having to drive into town twice a week. The speed of my recovery will depend in part on how much pain I'll be able to endure during the therapy.

One note I found interesting, and a little gory - I've been able to do more therapy in the morning than in the afternoon - my shoulder gets really tight and painful as the day goes on. The doc said that was due to activity causing the bones to bleed. He had to grind off a lot of bone material and scar tissue, and so there was a lot of fresh bone exposed inside me to bleed. At night when I'm inactive there is far less bleeding and therefore less pain (at least that is what I understand). I've set myself up to do one major round of therapy when I first get up in the morning before dawn, and another later in the afternoon. As long as I'm able to progress and increase my range of motion, I'll be able to continue this at home - YIPPIE! And since the jarring county road adds a great deal to the bleeding and to my pain, not having to travel that road twice for each physical therapy session, there should be less pain overall and a quicker recovery time - YIPPIE COYOTE!

I'm still not able to lift anything for a while, and will have limited use of that arm, but that's OK with me - SO MUCH better and farther along than with my previous surgery. My wounded wing resulted in a missed photo opportunity the other day though - a self-imposed miss I guess. There were some very interesting clouds gathering all afternoon, and the later in the day it got the better the sky became. It was one of those days when you just knew something magical was going to happen at sunset. I was working in the print room and so spent a lot of time going back and forth between there and the cabin and saw the sky changing. As Pam drove off to her yoga session in Boxley, I took one last look at the sky and clouds and decided I needed to go hide - which I did. Another episode of The Good Wife on TV. When it was over I looked out the window and saw the fading remains of what must have been an EPIC sunset! The reason I ran and hid was because I knew I would have tried to go locate a great foreground scene and spend time shooting the sunset, but doing so would most likely have resulted in further injury to my shoulder. It was best if I just ran and hid and not get tempted by such a glorious site (I'm kind of weak that way - I just can't resist!!!). So put one in the lost column.

My bride was on the road most of today - starting off by getting a flat tire fixed in town - her lazy husband was too gimpy up to fix it for her! (and her dad was out of town today) She then met up with Amber in Branson and the girls got to spend some quality time together. It was after dark when Pam arrived back at the cabin - WITH a much-anticipated and requested New Year's Eve dinner in tow! Oh my gosh, have you ever eaten something that was SO GOOD it almost made you cry? I'm just a simple, humble guy, and all it took was McDonalds fries reheated in the microwave!

I spent last New Year's Eve on top of a frozen, windswept ridgetop taking pictures for the new book, and wishing I was back at home with my lovely bride. This year, I got my wish, and we were together again, all snuggled up in each other's arms - well, actually I could only use one - sorry honey! I can't think of a better way to ring in the new year - or in our case, we made it to 10pm.

Hope you had a GRAND 2014, and we wish you a GREAT 2015 - be safe, be HAPPY, and do something nice for a total stranger sometime! And THANKS for putting up with my ramblings....

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