CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - January 2017
Cloudland Cabin Cam, January 31 - the moon and Venus, with a tiny Mars looking on
CLOUDLAND PROPERTY FOR SALE by owner (click here)
Print Of The Week (above)
01/30/17 I was sitting in the darkness early this morning sipping a 1/4 cup of java (what I call "Iceland" coffee because it is only a small amount) - this is how I began most days, quietly for a few minutes, just to let my body begin to wake up a little bit. Then all of a sudden the great room was LIT UP by a brilliant flash of light! It was a meteor exploding way up there in the heavens somewhere (actually upper atmosphere, but I hear it is heaven). 'Tis just another reason why we love the Cloudland Cabin so much - so many windows that even starlight gets in (I designed it this way).UPDATE - this is what lit up the cabin (it's a link to the American Meteor Society fireball report)
We had a BLUEBIRD week last week. A large flock of them swooped in and spent several days hanging out in Mom's meadow just below the cabin. SO many brilliant BLUE bits of color! I guess they were all males. And while we've seen these flocks in the winter before, this was the first time I looked close enough I guess to realize what they were doing - they were eating sumac berries. The hillside below the cabin is covered with sumac, and this was a banner year for them. They nest here on an off, but this flock moved on over the weekend - hoping some will return with mates later this spring. Always GREAT to see bluebirds!
01/28/17 Evening color...
01/25/17 I was outside wandering around at 4:30 yesterday morning when there was a sense of SOMETHING going on. I stopped, turned around, and saw one of the most amazing moonrises I'd ever seen! The crescent moon was just coming up over the distant ridge, and not only was it nearly blood-red/orange, but it also was laid back so much that it almost looked out of place - like the moon was in a full recliner! I just stopped and stared, knowing that by the time I ran around to gather up my camera equipment to take a picture the moment would be lost - along with the color and position of the moon on the horizon. Sometimes ya just gotta stop and gawk. I don't know how long that took place, but eventually the color began to fade, and then I realized I was standing out there in the dark and cold morning wearing nothing but my underwear - and my feet were FREEZING! (I was standing on bare rock.) It was worth it though.
This morning the crescent moon was even thinner, but not nearly as brilliant-colored as yesterday. But the sky was filled with puffy clouds at sunrise, and those were lit up nicely, and backed by a deep blue sky. Sort of a lazy sky kind of like the moon in the recliner - do you see a trend here?
Cooler temps this morning and a lower high this afternoon, but still pretty darn nice for the middle of winter!
We have decided to open the Canvas Gallery this coming Saturday the 28th, from 10am-3pm. Great deals all around on canvas and books and calendars - also five of Pam's original pastels on display - OR just stop by to soak in the great beauty of ARKANSAS during the seasons and listen to some mellow background music (sorry, none of grandma's cookies).
01/20/17 The fog returned yesterday, heavy, dense fog. It was WONDERFUL! At least to hike around in - not so much to drive in. I stayed home all day, buy my lovely bride was on the road. The fog lifted by late afternoon and a few patches of blue sky popped out. Distant ridgetops glowed orange just before sunset, but that sunshine never reached Cloudland - there were some terrific views from here though - winter light is MAGICAL!
I spent most of my day in the print room getting ready for our gallery being open tomorrow - replacing some canvas prints we have sold recently, adding a couple of new ones. And late last night - just before midnight - I completed work on the largest print I've ever made (actually it is tied with the largest print I ever made, the first one being last month). It is nearly TEN FEET WIDE and six feet tall. So large that I had to make it in three panels. My plan is to install the new triptych at the new gallery this morning so it will be on display tomorrow (and for sale of course). Not only is the sheer size of this print pretty amazing, but the details that you can see - even walking right up close to it - are just incredible - I'm talking about individual grains of sand embedded in the sandstone pebbles - WOW!!! This is why I spend so much time and effort and money to work with only the very best optical equipment available on the planet, process the image correctly, and use premium printing materials (all our prints are guaranteed for life). You CAN take a photo like this with an iphone, but you can't blow it up THIS large and count the grains of sand. Careful though - you can literally walk right into this image and bump your nose...
We will have the gallery open tomorrow from 10am-3pm, but mostly it will just be me there trying to pick away at the mountain of construction work still left to do inside the building - so don't be surprised if I have paint on my nose or wire clippers in my pocket. The gallery lights will be on with all canvas prints, all books and calenders on sale as always. Directions to our new gallery are here.
FYI, we have a new shipment of the popular BUFFALO FLOWS DVD available for order - and I'll have a few copies at the gallery tomorrow. PLUS we have our own ARKANSAS IN MY OWN BACKYARD DVD still available either online or at the gallery. Come to the Buffalo and enjoy a warm winter day this weekend!
01/18/17 Here's a snapshot from the back deck at about 4:30 this morning - a beautiful, classic view from Cloudland...
01/16/17 And then all of a sudden, POOF, it was gone! Literally within just a moment or two the fog that had been handing around for days was gone - or at least had risen just enough that we were in the clear and could see for miles. It was a weird experience to suddenly be able to see like that. 20 minutes later the sun broke through and flooded the canyons below with brilliant light that moved and danced. At the same time there was music from below as well - the Buffalo River began to sing! I suspect the river sound had been there all along, but probably muted by the fog.
A couple hours later the ceiling dropped upon us again, and by dark we were back in the fog. Hey, it isn't called CLOUDLAND for nothing! In fact that is indeed why I named it Cloudland more than 25 years ago - the first several times I visited this property that I bought sight-unseen over the phone one night I could not see a thing because of the fog. And while I don't enjoy driving in fog, I still do LOVE being in fog as I've noted many times.
Early Monday morning here right now and as daylight creeps into the landscape we are still socked in, and there is a gentle rainfall too. A perfect morning to sleep in! Or to wrap up and head out into the wilderness, which is what I believe I'll do. We have a full plate of work, so will have to save the sleeping in part for another day, but one short hike through the forest at dawn couldn't hurt, could it?
Wilson and I did make a quick 2.5-mile fitness hike just after dawn. It rained all the way and was quite delightful. We saw a single squirrel, and two deer - guess everyone else was sleeping in. The fog came and went, and spent some time swirling through the trees, as did we. Both of us arrived back at the cabin soaked from head to toe, stretched out and refreshed and ready for the new week. I'm hoping I will drip-dry during the morning...Hope you have a TERRIFIC week!
01/15/17 We continue to have extreme fog day and night, night and day - longest period of solid fog I can remember. But I LOVE foggy days, especially in the winter when the trees are bare and they show off their graphic forms of solid trunk and intricate branches. Moving through the forest on foot or even along a narrow road provides a constant kaleidoscope view in black and white. And the music of the forest - it is almost total silence, with the only sounds being that of tiny drops of dew/fox releasing from the branches now and then. And sometimes the distant calling of a bird, or chatter of squirrels. But mostly it is just silence and peace, and an opportunity to saturate your mind with absolutely nothing at all. Ahhhhh, breath all that liquid air deep into your lungs and fill yourself with joy!
01/12/17 Howling continues outside, non-stop for a couple of days and nights. But it is a warm howl, in the 70's yesterday, still in the upper 60's before dawn this morning.
Late last night (early this morning) I spent some time wandering through a VERY bright wilderness with the pups - everything lit up by the full moon. I have no idea why, but we found ourselves in Aspens Meadow, crisscrossing it from top to bottom, left to right, wading through waist-high broomsedge grass. It's the sort of grass that grows tall by the end of summer and then turns golden brown with the approach of fall. And then remains golden all winter. What stuck me most about this beautiful sea of grass was the fact that it registered in my brain as golden, even in the moonlight. We generally don't see color at night, but the moon was SO bright that the color was there. I'm kind of weird - wandering through a sea of grass in the moonlight. I even took a few pictures - handheld with my point-and-shoot camera just to show the color and blue moonlit sky.
01/08/17 There are a lot of little birds out and about in the forest these days. We have tiny house wrens around the cabin, and I watched one making his/her rounds this morning, jittering about, stopping to peak into every nook and cranny. Don't know if it was in search of nesting material, or food, or just curious. I've followed them since I was a kid and discovered their nests and tiny eggs in mom's ancient singer sewing machine cabinet drawers in the driveway.
There was a small bird perched in the largest of the deciduous holly trees in the Faddis Meadow - it is loaded with the REDDEST berries I've ever laid eyes on this year. On foggy, wet days those berries have been almost too much to look at - beaming so brightly through the fog. I wondered if that bird was a scout - at some point this winter a flock will land on the tree and all the berries will be gone in an hour or two.
Yesterday morning I was up at 2am - the power had gone out and there were all sorts of things beeping in the cabin (backup batteries). When my lovely bride told me the power had been out for a while, I realized we didn't have a stick of firewood, and so I jumped up and headed out the door. It was 4 degrees, and while the cabin could maintain a comfortable temp inside for a good long while, I'm kind of a fire nut anyway, so took this as a chance to build a fire in the fireplace. An hour later I had gathered firewood and had a roaring fire going, and there was a shadow on the cabin wall of my napping in the couch next to the fireplace - hey, it was 3am and I needed some rest! (The power was back on again by daylight. This is the first time we've had an extended power outage in a long time.)
A few hours later, as I was packing up the van to head over to the new gallery for an open house, I had a conversation with the "Box Kitty" on the front porch. He and his sister have been terrific cats for a long time (since December, 2001) - best cats ever, and almost totally maintenance free. There was something different about the old boy though - he looked up at me with glazed eyes that had a look of "so long" in them. I knelt down and spent a couple of minutes with him, scratched his head, thanked him for his service, then motored on. A few hours later Pam called to tell me she had found him in his bed - he died in his sleep, warm and snug and at peace.
R.I.P . Box Kitty: 2001 - 2017 (this photo is from the first week he arrived in 2001)
Today I placed the kitty in one of his favorite boxes, and buried him under the beech tree in Aspen's Meadow. This is the high point on our property, and we're told it's the location of a former Native American hunting camp dating back 6,000 years. It was tough digging in the cold, with rocky, rooty soil, but it was the least I could do for him who had done so much for us. Four paces to the west of the base of the beech - home to the Box Kitty and his box forever more. I can't believe he's gone.
As I hiked back down the hill towards the cabin the sky above lit up with brilliant colors of pink and red, and I hurried to grab my camera to record it. A fitting Sunday morning service for one of our beloved pets.
01/06/17 I was up at 3:30 this morning to get ready to drive into Fayetteville to get some work done on the RV. I had thought about getting off the mountain last night and staying closer to town just in case the snow got worse, but all of the weather models had the snow staying south. Much to my surprise when I stepped outside at 4, we had already received THREE INCHES of snow and it was still coming down! I could easily drive our 4wd van in this - in fact it would be fun - but I did not want to risk the long drive with the motorhome/RV, so I decided to cancel the trip to town. I HATE to cancel anything, especially due to a little bit of snow! But the older I get the more I think about safety (i.e., wisdom comes with old age).
So now I'm getting ready to hike over to Hawksbill Crag at first light just to see if any of the snow stuck (probably not since the snow is so DRY). I might take a camera along if needed...
MORNING UPDATE. There was more snow than I thought - 5"+ in the Faddis Meadow. And a lot more snow piled up on the Crag than I was counting on - at least 3" on top, so I spent a little bit of time shooting pictures there. It was cloudy at sunrise, but soon the clouds blew away and the Crag was hit with brilliant sunshine - very harsh light on white snow for photography, so I soon headed back to the cabin.
The temp was in the middle-teens with a brisk wind blowing (wind chill towards or below zero), but I only wore one thin layer plus my snowmobile suit and was toasty warm, even while standing around at the Crag for 30 minutes. This is the same suit I originally bought for our trip to Alaska several winters ago - I'm only able to wear it when the temps are frigid - it is so comfortable! Although I had to vent myself pretty good on the hike back UP the hill - there was steam coming from my suit!
a snapshot from above...
01/05/17 I was blinded by the darkness as I stepped from the print room into the night. I'd been inside for several hours stretching canvas prints in bright light, and hadn't even realized how late it was and that darkness had arrived. It was like a wall of black out there. But I knew my way through the woods (kinda), and took a few steps, but the blackness remained, and I had to inch along with my hands outstretched to keep from bumping into trees. There was something different, even though I could not see. It was silence - my footsteps made no sound. I stood in place for several minutes for my eyes to adjust, and while doing so SOMETHING crashed into me from below - my heart skipped a beat, then I realized it was WILSON!
And then the ground began to slowly come into view - and it was WHITE - there was a dusting of snow, and small snow pellets were coming down. Now that I could see a little bit I closed my eyes and turned towards the sky and enjoyed being pelted - it wats like a cool facial message! The pups and I wandered on up the hillside to Aspens Meadow and made the round back down to he warehouse, then returned to the cabin - a crispy 17 degrees but a delightful hike for sure.
01/03/17 It was 5am-ish this morning when we woke up and stared out the loft windows. It was an INCREDIBLE scene! A sea of fog had settled over the river below, and with clear skies above with lots of starlight, we could see the sea for miles and miles. By the time daylight arrived, that sea of fog and risen just enough to completely engulf the cabin.
01/02/17 One thing I've already done at least twice that points to a good year - I've written 2017 instead of 2016! Hey, small steps for me.
Today began with heavy fog everywhere - so thick we could barely see to the end of the deck. We kept busy most of the day preparing to transition into the new year business-software wise. The fog broke up a bit in the afternoon and we were provided with a spectacular light show for several hours - fog clouds moved back and forth, up and down, with bursts of brilliant sunshine flooding the canyons below from time to time (photo is below).
I continued maintenance work on computers while my lovely bride disappeared into her "nest" studio to get some painting done. She emerged just in time to head off to yoga in Boxley - leaving behind an AMAZING pastel painting - oh my goodness, I LOVE it!
01/01/17 I believe we set a New Year's Eve party record here at Cloudland last night. Both my lovely bride and I were in bed and sound asleep by 8:20pn. Workshops, slide programs, and gallery Open House days all tend to totally exhaust us mentally and physically. We've had a lot of those this past few weeks, and we finally wore down to nothing. The night before, on the 30th, we sat around and had a lively discussion for a couple of hours recapping the year, including lots of interesting people we'd met during the year, funny situations and things we got ourselves into, SPECTACULAR places we had been, moving moments that made our spirits soar, and some of the most terrible things that happened - making the decision to sell the only home we'd ever known together, and especially the passing of our beloved Lucy - she was a rock and sweet, sweet sugar as long as we've known each other. There were plenty of tears and laughter...
Once daylight arrived this morning it was back to business as usual, although we did get to get out and roam around for an hour or two with the puppies. Such FRESH air out here in the wilderness, filled with the promise of a brighter future.
Oh, and I got to dig another deep hole! Many years ago I installed an outdoor hydrant in the front yard. It was functional for about three weeks, then because obvious that whenever we used it, it leaked. When it was turned off, it didn't leak. Today was the day that I finally dug down to the main waterline where it was attached. Of course I didn't have the proper fitting to make disconnection happen, so I made a quick trip into Harrison (about three hours total, including two hours of driving). Two problems came up - one, the very common and cheap 1" PVC end cap was not on the shelf at Home Depot. In fact there was not even a spot for it on the shelf - WHAT? After climbing around on their shelves for a while I discovered an unopened box of them in another area - WHEW, it was not a wasted trip after all!
The second issue was that I picked up a large pepperoni pizza from Caseys. I know, I know. Gas station pizza, really? We actually LOVE it, and also we've not had any pizza in a very long time. The problem was that I was stuck inside the car with a large pepperoni PIZZA for more than an hour! I caved. There were four pieces missing when I walked into the cabin with it. Oops. And for those who have never had a full Caseys pizza, there are 12 slices, each one tiny compared to the giant slice that they sell individually (I could never eat four of those - well I COULD, but I should not...).
After the pizza orgy ended, I climbed down into the hole I had dug (with a flashlight - it was pretty dark), cut off the pipe leading to the above-ground faucet, and installed the $.69 end cap. I left everything open and covered with a tarp to keep rain from pooling up in the hole (my goal was for NO water to pool up in the bottom of the hole). So far, so good - 2017 is looking great!