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CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - December 2014

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Cloudland Cabin Cam December 21 - cold, wet, and froggy - HAPPY SUNDAY!

*NOTE - orders placed TODAY by NOON for our 25 Prints Of Christmas will ship Monday via Priority Mail. Orders after noon today will ship after January 1st. All prints re still available.

Journal Updated Monday night the 15th

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...

November 2014 Journal

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