LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - July 2018
Little Bluff Journal July 19 - sassafras sapling I found on my hike to the office this morning - HAPPY THURSDAY!
Journal updated July 18th
Print Of The Week special (above)
07/02/18 It is SO LOUD outside tonight!!! Must be a k-zillion cicadas, tree frogs, and other assorted night critters and bugs that are all SCREAMING into the darkness. Oh dear, the silence of the wilderness can be deafening.
Last night late we were called out to attend the night event of the season at Mt. Sherman - the annual fireworks display at the church. There was indeed so many folks there (nice live music going on) that we had to park across the street in a vacant lot to watch once the exploding show began. In all my 43+ years as a photographer have never taken pictures of fireworks (that I can recall). So it was mostly guesswork from me, and while I didn't happen to have the correct focal-length lens with me, I managed to do OK with one lens I did have. Next year I may plan for a more formal attempt. Glad we went.
The past several weeks are mostly a blur to me, other than some very special moments at our new house - which included a very spectacular full moon rise last week. And four nights spent out roaming the woodlands, rivers, blufftops, and even a prairie, trying my best to capture some of the magic of summer nights in Arkansas. But not a moment did I sit down to write about any of it. My plan is to at least write up a little about my four nights out shooting - those were all quite memorable. I'll post them in the June Journal and will make a note here when I finally get around to doing that.
Our building project has been pretty silent these past couple of weeks. Other than our great electrician Shane got all the electrical work done (except two appliances, which are waiting for the kitchen countertop to go in). And there has been rockwork done on the front porch - very slow but steady, inching along - taking months and months and still only half way done it seems. We're hoping to get our kitchen countertops this week, then the final plumbing and electrical and carpentry and finish work done.
Oh, and my bride has been working like a crazy lady cleaing up the floors - which had been inches and inches deep in fine dust and piled high with construction debris. Her and her dad have also hauled in some of her studio raw equipment - bookshelves and rolling desks and chairs. There will be painting and quilting happening up there before too long!
My workspace remains a mess as I'm still struggling to recover from all the damage the lightning caused last month. I'm having to press onward and limp along as best I can since I need to produce our two new 2019 calendars (which are already late to the printer). Sometimes I spend all day trying to get everything set up just right and end up not getting a single thing done. Hum. But at least we are now after nine months sleeping in a real BED - yippie COYOTE! July is going to be an epic month here at Little Bluff...
07/16/18 Nighttime photography workshop week ended about 4am Saturday. I've mostly been a night bird these past couple of weeks working up to these, and did just fine with my 9am-5am work day, then grabbing 4-5 hours of sleep before getting up and doing it all over again. We had terrific clear skies for all of the nighttime workshops, and I think everyone in all the groups got not one or two, but FOUR spectacular images of iconic Milky Way locations in the upper Buffalo River region. I mean - WOW!!! I mostly just stood around and watched, or wandered from student to student seeing if I could help. As everyone learns in the short classroom part of these workshops, there are really only a couple of steps to making a world-class nighttime photo, but often the first one is the most difficult - just getting the darn camera in focus.
There were many great moments, but a couple come to mind. A young lady who "always goes to bed by 9:30" and didn't think she would even be able to stay awake for the workshop was still bubbly, happy and kind of giddy as she stood in a graveyard at 3am taking one amazing picture after another.
On one of the other workshops we were all standing there in the middle of an open field still getting our eyes dark adapted when all of a sudden nighttime turned to day as an EARTH GRAZER streaked across the sky from one horizon to the other - a giant METEOR! This group witnessed four of those in the next couple of hours. It's one of those times when there is nothing you can do about it other than to just stand there in awe and enjoy - if you didn't have your camera pointed the right direction and running, there was no way you could photograph it. A rare moment to simply ENJOY the wonder!
Anyway, so what did I do my first night off after the workshops had ended? I went out and stayed up all night trying to shoot Milky Way photos and didn't get home until after 5am of course! This sort of gets into your blood. But it also kind of messes up your day job since one can only operate on 4-5 hours of sleep for so long. Last night I took my little 12-cent sleeping pill at 10pm and went to bed - first time in July. I'm not sure if I'll do nighttime workshops next year, but sure did enjoy this past week. THANKS to all who attended!
We had a couple of memorable events at the new cabin this week. The rock man completed work on some stone around the kitchen window - a BIG YIPPIE! All that remains inside the cabin are for the crew to install four more white pine posts (three in the kitchen) - later this week - then do a few minor things here and there inside, then some major work outside, then more rock outside, and in another month or two the cabin will be read. But we are trying to inch our way in - can't wait any longer. No furniture yet other than our beds, but it is GREAT to see it become more of a home instead of just a construction project.
Oh, one more memorable event that was the result of a workshop. My lovely bride was gone a couple of days during the workshop and when she got back home she discovered a ladies's makeup purse in the guest bathroom. "HONEY, UM, WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?" Most likely a very tense situation in most marriages. But we both laughed out loud. The night before one of the workshop students arrived and wondered if there was a place his wife could nap for a few hours while he was in class. I offered the cabin to her, and she seemed quite happy. When the classroom part of the workshop ended (located at the gallery, 1/4 mile from the cabin), and we packed up to head out for the night, I reminded the student that he probably should go collect his wife since she was going with us!
LONG week ahead of us here, and maybe some more nighttime pictures - sorry, I just can't get enough. Hope you have a TERRIFIC WEEK!
07/16/18 It is night here at the new cabin, and outside the night bugs and frogs are SCREAMING - sounds of joy for the rainfall we all got this afternoon. Skies were black and lots of rumbling going on, then heavy rain for an hour. Some folks reported two inches or more. I'd guess we had enough here to float a fairy leaf half way down the mountain (somewhere between one and two inches).
Just before bedtime last night I grabbed a camera and tripod and spent some time on the back deck trying to record the view. There were a lot of clouds swirling around, and the horizon was lit up with shots of distant lightning. It had rained here a little in the afternoon, but only a few drops, and about 15 degrees less heat. We have a clear view of the Milky Way from our back deck - in fact, almost from horizon to horizon. One of the photos is actually made up of five photos shot left to right, that cover the entire "rainbow" of the visible Milky Way.
But tonight the frogs are taking center stage, along with fog banks that have been creeping in and out and slithering along the distance ridges all evening, putting on quite a show. There was a Cloudland Moment while I was fixing my lovely bride some dinner (our second one in the new cabin). Pam has a blue tooth speaker for streaming music on her phone - we don't have a radio or TV connected to anything so for now the phone and computer via cell service are our music. Anyway, Pam was off to yoga down at Boxley Church, and I had a skillet mounded full of veggies and pasta on the stove, and someone was singing a beautiful tune on this little blue tooth speaker. I could see there was quite a show in progress outside, so I started shooting a video with my little phone, starting with the skillet, then moving through the still-empty great room (no furniture, just a rug), and finally out the door onto the back deck for a sweeping 180-degree view of the Henson Creek Valley below. It was so peaceful and exciting at the same time. Good thing I didn't record myself singing - that might have scared off all the forest critters!
The pasta and veggies were WONDERFUL, as was this special non-dairy ice cream that Pam brought home some small containers of yesterday - "STOP EATING when you reach the bottom" was the message under the lid. So I did as directed and ate the entire tub (always follow directions, especially if it says to eat all the ice cream!).
The air and forest will be sweet in the morning after all the rain. The parched landscape cooled and renewed...
07/18/18 Quick note - I began watching the view out the back around 4am this morning. It was a sea of clouds filling the canyon below, with a ZILLION stars above. Storms had cleared out and left this spectacular view - I couldn't sleep, yet it was so comfortable and the view so great right there in bed that I forgot to get up and take pictures. As dawn approached, the stars were replaced with clouds that began to glow with the horizon. So I was forced out of bed to take a picture and begin the day - what a way to begin a day!
We had storms roll through several times yesterday, and had an endless clouds show all afternoon in the canyons below. Our view here is much wider and longer than we had at Cloudland, and sometimes the cloud formations and movement are more than we had at Cloudland. And I think we spend more time here just standing or sitting enjoying the view - OH MY, this view is GREAT! My bride worked on putting closet shelves together and other chores yesterday (cleaning, a new layer of dust forms on everything each day) and never left the cabin - first time. I hike back and forth between gallery and cabin. It was a wonderful day to be at Little Bluff. Wonderful rainfall across the Upper Buffalo watershed, and I bet it got some waterfalls running. Waterfalls in late July - won't last long, probably already mostly dry by end of today. HAPPY SUMMER IN ARKANSAS!