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LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - December 2018

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Little Bluff cabin cam December 31 - windy, rain (.53" according to our new weather station!) and a beautiful Monday morning, my favorirte day of the week!

Journal updated December 27

Print Of The Week special - our TEN most popular prints for 2018 - your choice, all on sale!

Our HOLIDAY SPECIAL with your choice of seven different picture books

12/01/18 LOTS of lightning, heavy downpours, and high winds several times during the night. The radar maps sure were colorful! We spent some time getting the safe room ready in case we needed to run for cover - thank goodness we never needed it. Our $2 rain gauge showed about two inches when the first storm passed,` but only an additional 1/2 inch the rest of the night. I think we need a real weather station here.

When I first awoke at 4-something this morning, I saw shadows from our deck posts, but the only bright object in the sky was Venus. No way VENUS could be casting shadows, right? When I stood up and peeked outside I realized that, duh, it was the crescent MOON! A beautiful sight for sure, and one I had to take a picture of, but not until I had a cup of java on the couch. By the time I hiked up to the office to get my camera and back down again, some of the stars had already begun to fade with the coming dawn. I did get a snapshot of our prow and the tall pines with Orion - The Hunter setting into the west in between them.

We're off to our program in Bentonville today, then onto the Mountain Home show tomorrow. I'm finishing up two or three NEW Black Mat Prints this morning that have never been seen before and will have them at each program (but only one of each).

Windy, warm, and beautiful - a great start to December!

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12/02/18 We just got home this evening from our fifth slide program of the week - I think we are a bit tuckered out. We had a couple of really big shows, a couple of great shows, and one that bombed a bit. One thing in common with all - we REALLY appreciated everyone who took time our of your busy lives to attend, and also those who worked at the facilities and clubs to host us. These programs are always the highlight of our year. Only five more and then we are done until January 11th, when we'll do our last programs of the season (next programs after that will be in November 2019).

We have a LOT of catching up to do this week and also to get ready for our slide shows on Friday in Springfield and our GALLERY OPEN HOUSE on Saturday. Somewhere in there I plan to nap for a few minutes, and also to put our outdoor storage shed back together again (it blew apart during the big storm a few days ago, but then it blew over last night and into more pieces).

Tonight we're just going to lay back and watch the Christmas tree lights, and the stars, and not go anywhere for awhile...

12/07/18 'Tis cold with heavy fog all around - can't hardly see any view past the railing! It is always fun hiking in the fog through thick trees like we have here - since you can only see a few feet ahead it is always an ever-changing scene! Haven't run into any trees yet, but have lost the puppies a time or two.

We've been concerned about the weather for this weekend for the past several days, especially with estimates of 5-8 inches "or more" of snow and up to a quarter inch of ICE - that ice part is not good. First it was all going to hit today and so we were trying to figure out about our two important Springfield shows. Then they moved the bad stuff to Saturday, which meant our gallery open house might not happen, and the roads might be so bad that we worried about getting to Little Rock Sunday morning for our show there. They have now slacked off on the totals a bit for Saturday, and we're more hopeful the roads will be clear on Sunday - although we still may make a run for Little Rock on Saturday afternoon if it all looks too bad.

Speaking of our show in Springfield tonight, there has been a good bit of very negative feedback about using the Nature Center's high-resolution tick-tack-toe nine-panel display screen (that we used last year) vs. our normal projector setup. Before last year we always used our own projector and projected on the wall. We can't do that anymore since their panel is on the wall, but we have purchased a new 12-foot wide projection screen and we DO plan to use that screen with our own projector at both programs tonight - so no tick-tack-toe panels (unless something goes wrong with our system - fingers crossed).

It's going to be a fun weekend...

12/08/18 Trees, fields, and fences were covered with ice/hoar frost (frozen fog) as we left at noon yesterday to head north for our programs. But the freeze was localized to our road and hilltop - didn't see any ice again until we arrived back home around midnight to the very same hoar frost. It was beautiful, but a few of the pine trees lining the county road were bent over a bit from the weight of the ice.

The Springfield programs were GREAT - first early one was PACKED with I think the largest crowd we've had for the early show there. Both groups were noisy (that's a GOOD thing - folks having a good time!), and had a lot of really great questions - I LOVE questions, lots and LOTS of questions make for a better program. While driving home late to an unknown road situation, I calculated the time we had put in to get to Springfield (really, to any of our programs) - counting prep time and packing the van, the travel up, unpacking and setting up, giving two programs back-to-back, then taking everything down and packing the van again, the drive home, then unpacking the van - our little group of four put in more than 48 hours yesterday! No wonder I slept in until nearly 6am today!

The big winter storm that had been advertised did not show up - at least not at Little Bluff. We had a tiny bit of sleet this morning, then some mist that froze on the gravel and leaves and grass. Then about 3:30 this afternoon it began to snow tiny flakes. It's about 9pm tonight and we've had a total of maybe 1/2 inch of snow - enough to coat the ground and deck. With the Christmas tree lights it's almost like a White Christmas!

The van is all packed back up again with fresh books and prints, and resting in the garage and ready for our trip to Little Rock tomorrow - hoping Hwy. 7 up from Jasper and along the top of and down the front range of the Ozarks will be clear.

I hiked about 4.5 miles today going to and from the gallery (we were open but no one showed up). Each time I slowed my pace to make sure I didn't slip, but also to be able to linger just a little longer in the woods and soak in all the beauty. Our little trail winds through a grove of large and towering pine trees, past other species of all shapes and sizes, including a number of small beech trees with their golden leaves whistling in the breeze.

As soon as our program season is over (December 17th is our last program, in Dover), I have to get back to work and put in a lot of long hiking days trying to finish up the field work for a guidebook update. My ailing back (and two cranky knees) have been holding up so far to some degree (on average I lift and move about 800 pounds of books four times for each program (thank goodness Pam's dad and others help out when they can!) - I'm not sure which will cause more wear and tear - program season or all the trail miles - but I love BOTH!

All of a sudden this week the pups decided they didn't like the quilt on the guest bed, and gradually they've been pushing it off. They sometime sneak over into that room for a long nap - usually when we're not here, but sometimes when we are. Mia has come up with a bum front leg and has been mostly cabin-bound, so has been spending more time on that bed. Pam and I are lucky when they allow us to have our own bed for a few hours each night.

HALEY book discussed during physicist's interview on utube. I received a link today to an hour-long video chat between some really smart guys (physicist Dr. Russell Targ, and Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove). They discuss some pretty heady stuff (miles over my head - in the 8th dimension), then at the 33 minute mark they begin talking about the circumstances surrounding my book, THE SEARCH FOR HALEY. While there are a few inaccurate facts in the interview, most of the interview was pretty darn accurate. Kind of weird to be talked about in this sort of company (even if I was only the "tour guide" - I never met Dr. Targ). Here is the utube link.

Warm and cozy inside tonight...

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12/09/18 The massive winter storm that was warned about all week never happened, but we did get some nice ice on the glass panels of our deck railing for sunrise...

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12/14/18 Rain and a wonderful sea of clouds below that danced around andp layed all day! Waterfalls are pumping pretty good now for a while with more rain on the way...

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12/15/18 It is cool, clear, and CRISP outside tonight - a BEAUTIFUL almost-winter night at Little Bluff! We've had a very cold rain the past couple of days and nights, but it finally cleared off and blue skies returned. I took the opportunity to hike through the woods between cabin and gallery numerous times in the rain and mist, and LOVED every step. But the amazing last light of the day this evening that lit up the landscape spread out below us was quite - awesome (sorry to use that term, but it was).

Many nice folks visited our gallery today and it's always a treat to listen to their stories, meet new folks, and get to see old friends. One visitor came rushing into the sales area when Pam looked up and recognized her - they had worked together at the Family Violence Center in Springfield and hadn't seen each other since. And come to find out they had bought property just below us and spend most weekends in their RV - 'tis a small world indeed!

We sold the largest single print I've ever made to a gentleman whose father had a communications tower on the very mountain that was featured in the picture. I normally remove such things from my prints, but for some reason I decided to leave the towers on top of the "Boat Mountain Group" when I made that print - now I know why. It was one of the scenes I photographed during a 14-day odyssey this past early summer to try and capture a red-ball sunrise in between two mountains. I never succeeded in doing that, but I did get many great images of the early-morning sky and foggy bottoms and lots and lots of color. (One of the sunrises is featured on the cover of our 2019 Arkansas Engagement Calendar, another one is one of the monthly selections in the 2019 Arkansas wall calendar.)

Our annual visit to Russellville turned out to be the largest show of this season for us, with so many smiles and laughter, tons of great questions, GIANT cookies (I didn't one this year they were so good!), and a history-making waterfall chaser I had the honor of seeing - JILL PICKETT. She's the first person to visit and document all of the more than 200 waterfalls in our Arkansas Waterfalls Guidebook (the last two - and perhaps most difficult due to ice and tornado damage - were Aspen and Lucy Falls, named after our beloved puppies up in puppy heaven). As part of the deal she got a brand new copy of the guidebook, and as a special treat for me I got to have my picture taken with her. She later wrote a wonderful note online about the journey that led her to this great achievement - I will post a link to it here if I'm able, or perhaps share her words with you. This young lady is one of the reasons why we do what we do. THANKS so much to Jill for doing what she has done! And also a big high-five* to Danny Hale, Dr. Andrew Monfee, and all the folks who helped put on this show at Tech each year - and to all of the other water chasers for their encouragement to keep Jill in the hunt!

*A special Thank You to Dr. Cathi McMahan, Emily Dewitt, Carrie Saunders and Cary Moore from Ark Tech. Dr. Monfee from Monfee Medical Clinic and Steve Hern, John Bearden and Brenda Hale from TAKAHIK...

Here's Jill's Facebook post about her mission - "So, here's the story. I went to Petit Jean State Park in 2007. That is where I learned of Cedar Falls. In the gift shop was this book by Tim Ernst about Arkansas Waterfalls. So, I bought it. The rest is history. I started working on completing the waterfalls in that book. Shortly thereafter, he published a second edition. So, I switched to that. I started looking for hiking groups to hit some of these that were too difficult on my own and that's where I found Danny Lee Haleand Takahik. I went with them numerous times and finally with their help, I built up the confidence to go on my own. Yall, this book changed my life! In 2011 I decided to quit smoking hoping it would help me climb mountains better....which it did. Then, I started tackling these harder hikes which required gps. One thing led to another and I started traveling the world looking for waterfalls. I've since been to Ireland, Japan. Iceland, New Zealand, Africa and Australia. Next year I will complete the 7 continents by hitting Argentina and Antarctica! All this from one waterfall book from AR. Never stop dreaming yall! The only thing stopping you....is YOU!" - Jill Pickett

One item we really miss here at our new home that we enjoyed so much at Cloudland was a weather station. I think we have even more weather events here (actually the same I bet), and we've missed out on so much. I've looked and looked but could never quite nail down what I wanted. And then a box arrived from a Journal reader with a note saying "my wife and I and our office staff are Journal readers and know you need one" - oh yes, there was an INCREDIBLE WEATHER STATION IN THE BOX with every feature I ever wanted! Now I just need to figure out how to get up onto the roof and attach a post to hand it on, and get it fired up. THANKS to Larry, his bride Angels, and to all his staff - we'll begin collecting data and posting it here once we get it fired up.

We almost didn't make it home from the Russellville show - our fifth or sixth midnight trip home this season. It was raining off and on and heavy fog would come and go, but we went through a stretch with no fog or rain and I got a little big cocky and almost got the old van up to the speed limit. And then they just APPEARED out of thin air - a flock of seven deer right on the edge of the highway. I know you are NOT SUPPOSED TO SWERVE when you encounter wildlife on the highway (might hit an oncoming car), but that's the only way I could go and not plow directly into them, and so I hit the brakes and the horn, and swerved to the left. They all took flight and scattered in all directions, so I was going to hit them no matter where I went. But somehow the van came to a stop within inches of them - in fact the front of the van was almost surrounded by deer! Of course, we came to a stop in the middle of the ONCOMING lane, so if there had been any traffic it could have been a terrible accident. We were very lucky. DON'T SWERVE FOR WILDLIFE.....

A special note for Journal readers. It has been a real treat to have so many of you at programs or at the gallery (or anywhere) say that you read the Journal. It's been more than 20 years now and while I'm just barely still going with this I'm always lifted up by knowing you are on the other end of my typing. So THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading!

12/17/18 The pups and I just want out for a moonlight stroll tonight before bedtime. I got to try out a new handmade Canadian moose sweater - YIPPIE! (made from wool, not moose) Its the first outer garment I've purchased in a very long time (since going to Alaska I think). My bride came home from her Canadian Rockies trip with this beautiful handmade sweater - made from New Zealand wool, which she just LOVES. And while I've always sworn I'd never wear a garment with a moose on it (I have no idea why - nothing against mooses), this one I just got has two moose right on the front - and it's the design I liked the most and had to wait for! Not very expensive either. And it fit me right - something most garments don't do. It's nothing fancy, but just feels good. So if you see a big moose (or mooses) walking around in the woods, it might be me. (I got my bride a handmade New Zealand wool stocking hat to match her sweater, but don't tell her since it's for Christmas).

The mooses are loose -

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The forest tonight was just wonderful - the air was still and sweet, lots of moonlight that was being filtered through a thin layer of clouds. And enough silence to last all night (I have no idea what that means, but it seemed to fit). I wandered from tree to tree, pausing to lean up against one now and then and gaze up at the moon. There was a narrow ring around the moon - but a long ways from the moon - does that mean it is supposed to rain, but not for many days? Other than the puppy feet in the leaves I didn't hear another critter. The night landscape seemed at rest.

And then as I eased on further into the forest, I heard something. A hushed tone. Sounded happy. And it WAS happy - it was the rush of our creek and waterfall on down the hillside beyond the moonlight! We heard the Buffalo River almost all the time at Cloudland, but here our creek only sings when it is very happy. The pups and I were down at the waterfall a couple of days ago and it was running well, and we followed the creek upstream until it turned away from our forest and went out into the pasture of cows next door. Happy cows they were.

When I got up this morning as I was sitting in the prow sipping java and gazing out across a dark landscape that was just waking up and looking for the first light of day, I decided it was time to drive on over to the other side of the mountain and have a look at Triple Falls at Camp Orr. I kissed my bride so long and motored off.

There was a giant sea of clouds that covered the Buffalo River this morning, and I found myself beneath the sea by the time I had reached Triple Falls. I LOVE fog! So figured it was going to be a good visit. Yes, they have improved the road down to Camp Orr (and Kyles) quite a bit this past month (THANKS!), but parts of the gravel have already sunk into the clay. Hum.

The waterfall was beautiful as always, and within a few minutes of arriving I'd already tried several different shooting locations, ending up out in the middle of the creek - good thing I was wearing my trusty "Angela" rubber boots. (Angela was my workshop assistant who passed away last year - she always wore these rubber boots and I finally broke down and bought a pair - THANKS Angela!)

The fog got thicker and began to swirl around the waterfall and looked really nice, so I hurried up and settled into a location with a composition that I really liked, and spent the next 30 minutes trying to capture the look and feel of the fog and falls and of that oh so sweet early morning light. My new camera takes pictures that often look as good as the real thing - but most of the time I'm unable to bring them back to life once I get to the computer (the RAW files I use on the computer are flat and lifeless compared to the heavily processed jpg files the camera produces). Today was one of those times when I was able to finesse a RAW file pretty close to the look and feel of the scene I'd just been standing in. Those are the photos I really like - one every 100 or 1,000 pictures or so if I'm lucky.

When I began to download the photos from the camera card to my computer I was shocked to discover that today was the FIRST time I'd used my camera this month! Slacker. Anyway, I love the new waterfall photo and have made it the Print Of The Week (on sale for the next few days). You may see it again in my new picture book next fall, and/or in a calendar.

Our last slide show of the season is tomorrow night at the Dover High School. Hope some of you can stop by for a visit and watch the show. There will be 54 students exhibiting prints from their photo class - some amazing images from talented students!

12/20/18 View from Pam's swing - the cows have come home...

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12/21/18 It always amazes me how much I pay attention to the shadows on the forest floor when walking in moonlight without a flashlight. They're mostly tree shadows, which are also there in the daytime, but for some reason they are so much more interesting and beautiful at night. There are rock shadows too, and grapevines, and once in a while a shadow I don't really want to know the identity of. But they are all moon shadows, been followed by moon shadows most of my life and love it.

The hustle and bustle of the Christmas ordering, packing, program, and shipping season has wound down for us, since everything we do now is mostly mail-order for post-Christmas delivery (we will still ship any new orders tomorrow morning, but not sure if they will arrive on Monday or Wednesday or later). *Although we also have gift certificates of any amount for anything we sell, especially for photo workshops, but they can also be used for books calendars, or prints or whatever. Click here for info.

We will also have the Canvas Gallery OPEN this Saturday December 22nd from 10am-3pm for anyone needing someplace to go instead of the national river/park, and for last-minute gifts or stocking stuffers, or for your backpack or wall - or just to stand and stare! And tomorrow at the gallery only - A FREE 2019 ARKANSAS SCENIC CALENDAR TO ANY FEDERAL WORKER who has been furloughed - OR TO ANY VETERAN - just let us know while you are at the gallery. (gallery visitors only)

Wasn't Mexico going to pay for the wall?

Getting back to the moon, it is ALMOST full tonight, but not quite - only 99.0 %. It will be 99.9% at both sunrise and sunset tomorrow (Saturday), with 100% just before noon. Today was the shortest day of the year and will be the longest night tonight. We got a "weather alert" on the phone this evening - it is going to be MUCH WARMER tomorrow than today - up to almost 60 degrees!

It was only a week or two ago when the skies and limbs of our big pine trees were filled with colorful bluebirds. But we've not seen one here in a while, in fact I think the only birds I've seen lately have been crows. And bald eagles. Seems like we're seeing more eagles in Arkansas this year than ever.

I'm feeling more like an overstuffed turkey though. Pam's family Christmas is this weekend, and we're going to be eating Italian. My job is to make "garlic cheese bombs" and also a dessert. The cheese bombs are about as simple as you can get - biscuits with a hunk of string cheese inside, coated with butter and Italian spices after baking. I went through about a dozen cheese bombs before I found the right combination.

But it was the dessert that has me checking the scales. A memory from my childhood flooded in, and I have this quite solid memory of the spumoni ice cream from Mary Maestri's Italian restaurant in Tontitown. Our family could only afford to eat our once or twice a year, and so it was an extra-special treat. The pasta was great, yea, yea, yea - but I was just a kid and it was the ICE CREAM that I wanted! (I never ate there as an adult and now closed.) Oh my goodness - do any of you remember that? It was served in single-serving bowls and I swear it was topped with rum, although the recipe I'm following uses cherry brandy. Well we did a test drive a couple of nights ago and my bride and I ate the entire loaf pan of spumoni! HOLY MOLY! Could have been the SPAM factor creeping in since neither of us have had any ice cream in a long time, but my goodness that was GREAT! Now if I can only remember the recipe for our Sunday meal.

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12/23/18 Sunrise on the prow glass and prow railing glass.

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12/25/18 Is 3:30 too early to get up and eat breakfast? That's when the pups jumped up and tore out of the cabin, snarling and growling and barking on the way. It was pretty bright outside so I could see them run around to the back side of the cabin, but then they disappeared. I never heard another peep out of them until after I had already sipped a cup of java and eaten a bowl of cereal. That's my normal routine these days - sip and slurp in the dark on the couch looking out the prow windows to watch the day begin. Or in this case, watch the only "star" I could see, which was actually a planet (Venus). It was mostly cloudy, which was the reason I was home in the first place.

Our Christmas happened on Sunday, with yesterday just being a normal work day. But the day turned sour in the afternoon when my lovely bride left and headed north to spend Christmas and the following week with our daughter, Amber. I fully understood (they don't get to see much of each other, and this was the perfect week for it), and had scouted several locations where I had planned to do some nighttime photography. But last night it turned off cloudy, and remained so pretty much all night - except for that Venus lady, who kept popping out of the clouds.

So with nothing else to do at 3:55 when the pups came back, I crawled under the covers with them and took a nice long Christmas nap - until the SUN came popping up over the horizon and shone directly into my eyeballs. Time to get up, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

With the boss gone I was able to try out a test recipe for blueberry scones that I've wanted to do ever since I made my very first batch of scones a couple of months ago. Well, let me tell ya - it was an epic failure! Which is why I didn't do these while my bride was here. I want her to think I can only do GREAT SCONES. We MISS YOU HONEY, but so glad you were not here for these! So the puppies will be getting homemade scone treat all day...

Because I missed out on shooting last night, I did manage to get our outdoor grill fired up for the first time in many months and produced the best brats ever. I had them with a side of Pam's baked spaghetti (left over from Christmas dinner on Sunday).

Speaking of the dinner on Sunday, I was in heaven Saturday night because our kitchen was filled with music, and my bride and daughter cooking up a storm - pasta, PASTA, and more PASTA! And I put together the special spumoni ice cream recipe, which by the way turned out to be delizioso! (aka squisito!) The memories we make today will be those you may not be able to remember in a few years, so ENJOY THEM NOW!!!

And speaking of the brats I made last night, 'tis time for Christmas LUNCH for me, so it's over the hill and through the woods to our Little Bluff cabin I go - grilled brats and sketti for me, more blueberry scones for the puppies.

We hope your day is filled with the very best of life, and way too much rich food.....

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12/26/18 Foggy, wet and drippy this morning - I LOVE THIS! The pups and I had a delightful hike through the forest up to the office - you can move silently in the forest when all is damp and the air filled with moisture. But if you stop and listen closely, you might hear the faintest pitter-patter of tiny droplets hitting the ground. It's not raining, but the air is so wet it can't hold any more and so some of the moisture is released. The aroma of the forest is also great when wet and saturated. And it's like moving through a dreamscape with silhouetted trees all around and new ones appearing with each step.

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Yesterday evening I made a quick trip down to a spot on the river I had wanted to photograph the night before. It was total dark when I arrived, and I discovered the batteries in my little headlamp were kinda weak. Hum, the only thing I had asked for for Christmas were BATTERIES! And I got them - from Aunt Bonnie and from my bride. In fact I got about 80 of the AAA's I needed three of for my light. And I could see them - sitting right on the kitchen counter top where I left them! Oh well, I'm pretty good at seeing in the dark.

The composition I wanted to do a six-hour timelapse of was not available - the river was too high and deep. So I stumbled around in the brush and along the bank of the river for a while seeking another one. At one point I thought I could see a nice spot - at the far edge of a tiny island out in the river. I wasn't ready to go swimming in the dark, but I did manage to find a network of fallen trees that I crossed to reach the little island - I only almost fell into the river once or twice. But the view was no good. And I say "view" because the sky was completely clear and there were a zillion stars out with enough starlight for me to at least imagine the scene.

So I worked my way back over the fallen trees to the solid shore and went with plan C. Great stars at the beginning, but I didn't know if clouds would obscure them and the moon that I hoped would light up a limestone bluff and surrounding forest or not. So I hit the GO button and hiked back to the van, and left the camera to take a 30-second picture every 31 seconds all night until I stopped it.

I laid in bed looking out the windows waiting for the moon to appear - and it was a gorgeous blood-orange color (is that a color?), but looking kinda freaky since the top 1/4 of the moon was missing. Clouds moved in, and the moon played tag with them for the next several hours. My plan was to nap for a few hours, then get up and go pick up the camera after it got totally cloudy. The clouds moved in on time around midnight, but I never got a wink of napping since I continued to watch the clouds and moon, and of course the clock.

I DID fill up my headlamp with AAA's from the counter top, but it turned out I never used this light for the pickup trip. The woods were just barely light enough from the moonlight that was up there somewhere above the clouds that I could see and at times feel my way along the trail to where my camera was happily chugging away. But there were others out there with me. Hoot owls - no happy with me being there; several deer that stomped and snorted and tried to scare me off; and one pesky beaver that snuck up to within ten feet of me while I was taking down the camera gear and SLAPPED his big fat, flat tail on the water surface - I jumped about two feet in the air, but the camera survived.

The camera took about 750 pictures and I have no idea what any of them will amount to (with all the clouds, probably nothing), but it was GREAT to get back out into the woods at night with the potential to capture a nice scene, and/or timelapse video. This is the first nighttime timelapse I've done since a pair of all night trips down to Big Bluff and back in the dark. (I think I never wrote up those trips, nor the one to the grand prairie the same week in southwest Arkansas - but I WILL get that done eventually and will make a note of those trips here - they were fun and rewarding, but two of them stretched me to the limit).

The mail has been processed and packed and in the mail box, UPS shipments are all made up and ready for pickup. Now I'm ready to begin a long and winding process of trying to get myself caught up with all the chores I started to do on January 1, 2018. But first, since the boss is not here, I think I'll go take a nap...

UPDATE: Here's a rough idea of the scene I was shooting, showing several hours of star trail movement, plus some moonlight on the bluff, and clouds moving in -

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EVENING UPDATE. The pups and I are all laid out on the rug in front of the fireplace late tonight. I've had the heat turned off all day and it got kinda chilly inside so the fireplace feels extra-nice. We've had a good bit of hard and cold rain, and it looks to continue all night, getting more than an inch of rainfall. Wish I had the new weather station set up - it has been on my to-do list every day all week. Actually it is set up on the deck and working just fine, but sitting on the floor in the corner of the covered porch it can't gather any water or wind data. But I do have everything I need now to get it all put together and hoisted up above the roofline of the cabin. Tomorrow, I'll put that on my to-do list for tomorrow.

For some reason the rain is louder tonight - I mean the actual drops of water hitting the windows. Hum, I wonder if it's because the wind is blowing so hard that the raindrops are horizontal, so they are hitting the windows at higher speed than normal? Glad I set up the timelapse of the moon and stars last night...

12/27/18 Wilson and I just spent a delightful hour or so wandering around in the forest late tonight. When I first stepped outside I was surprised how BRIGHT and CLOSE the stars seemed - it was like you could just reach out and touch them! The storm wiped the air clean, and the stars were brighter and more twinkly.

We've not had television service for four years, although we do have a TV here that was purchased last year to use as a digital print display in the gallery. I finally broke down and bought a DVD player at Wal Mart yesterday, only to discover we don't have any DVDs here at the cabin. Today I dug through a dozen or two tubs in storage until I found the movie mother lode. And just like when back at Cloudland nearly 20 years ago, the first movie that I watched was Jeremiah Johnson (same DVD - getting kinda worn). I've always been a Redford fan, and also a Jim Bridger fan (famous mountain man). And this combination of the two is one of the best movies ever made.

Some folks have said I would have been a mountain man, but knowing a little bit about what those guys went through every day just to survive I doubt that I would have made it a week up in the real mountains. Life was much more difficult back then, city or mountains. And I'm kinda soft in comparison. But I would have been right up there with them in spirit - I tend towards mountains and rocks and trees and waterfalls and miles of no one.

Winds continue to howl tonight as they did last night, when we got more than two inches of rainfall that was at times quite heavy. Now that all the rain has stopped, I was able to get the new weather station we were gifted together and got it up and running - well, not actually "up" yet - it's sitting on the back deck - but is remotely reporting weather data to the inside monitor. Tomorrow I'll try and get it mounted on a ten-foot pole that I'm going to install on the deck of Pam's studio - it has the tallest roofline, and the weather station will be above that.

Speaking of the wind, it was blowing so hard this evening that a fire I had built inside the wood-fired oven on the back deck was blown out by the wind coming down the little chimney - so I had to abandon my homemade pizza tonight! Maybe tomorrow.

The pups and I made a trip this morning down to our tallest waterfall, and everyone had a great time playing in it (MiaWilson Falls - there's a photo of it in the 2019 Arkansas engagement calendar). Both of them were covered with mud and clay from the ground beneath the overhang, but Wilson swam around in a pool upstream a ways and washed it all off. Mia knew exactly what I was trying to do by calling her over to the other side of the stream, and she wouldn't have any part of getting cleaned off. She would always jump over the creek and/or pool and land on the other side, still muddy. I finally ignored her and hiked on upstream a ways and she forgot I was trying to get her clean, and she waded out into deep water and washed herself off - GOOD DOG!

wilson

(the waterall is muh taller than appears here - Wilson is very close to the camera and the falls far away

I feel kinda silly after just now getting on the internet to look up when the moon was going to rise tonight - when I discovered it had already risenm I looked over my shoulder and there is was!

12/28/18 I finally made PERFECT wood-fired PIZZA AT LAST! (I made three last night - this was the first one that I ate for dinner. #2 I ate for breakfast. #3 I ate for dinner today! (skipped lunch)

pizza

12/30/18 Warmer this morning but we found some ICE down by the waterfall -

ice

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