The dinner was also–as usual–satisfying and memorable. After that we drove over to one of Faye’s friends who has a big farm with lots of animals, including a bunch of goats. One thing that Carole and I want to do when we retire is to adopt a pair of those miniature goats. So we decided to go look at the ones at the farm even though they’re not the type we want to get in a few years.
The farm was a lot of fun. It’s always interesting to be around domesticated animals. In this case we met two horses, a burro, a Labrador retriever, and a butt-load of goats.
After the trip to the farm, we headed back home where I treated the two hemlock trees with Imadacloprid, the best insecticide for getting rid of the Hemlock wooly adelgid. As I reported in an earlier post the horrid bugs finally found our pair of thriving hemlocks and have infested them. So I bought enough poison in solution to both drench the bottom branches and also to apply to the soil at the base of the trunks so that the roots can absorb the poison up into the tree to kill the little monsters when they begin to draw the sap from the hemlock needles.
I hope it works. I’ve been told it’s quite effective.
With that done, I tackled washing the Casita travel trailer. We’re going on a short jaunt with it into the mountains this coming weekend so I needed to get her into traveling shape for the journey.
|Friendly horse. We fed her carrots.|
|They keep the burro in the paddock with the goats because they say it protects the flock from coyotes. We fed the tiny burro carrots, too.|
|Andy feeding carrots to the goats.|
|Can you say “pregnant”? This ewe looked ready to pop!|
|The boss billy goat. Two of the ewes were fighting and he got between them and broke it up.|
|Got the Casita cleaned up. I like to take a photo of her every Spring sitting under the blooming dogwood. I think the flowers should be all fully open by Thursday when I’ll take another shot.|
Although it’s hard to understand, if you’d come to the southern Appalachians around 1920 or so, you would have found almost no mature forests. Instead, from horizon to horizon all you would have found were shattered lands–all of the forests had been felled. And when I say “all”, that’s what I mean. Rare were the spots where the timber companies had not been. And when they passed, they left nothing but stumps, poorly cut roads, and rail beds for the ever-present narrow gauge steam engines that were invaluable for the harvest of timber.
Often, when the timber companies had left, the land was allowed to fester. Summers would come, often with drought. The acreage would become tinder-dry and all it would take is a single spark or a lightning strike and fire would be set. Since what had been forest was now just a litter of shattered stumps and broken limbs and underbrush, the fires would rage unopposed across the landscape. If the droughts were severe enough–and they often were–then even the top soil would burn away, all the way down to bare rock and mineral soil. When rains finally did come–and they often did so in sudden cloudbursts to break the droughts–what little soil remained was washed down into the creeks and rivers to briefly foul the waterways before being carried along to the lowlands.
After all of this destruction, the forests would struggle to recover. On the tallest peaks and in the highest valleys the young trees had to contend with little in the way of organic soil and with the cold winters and harsh winds that rake the southern high country. Some shrubs and grasses would take root, but trees struggled to regain lost territory.
This is why, more than 100 years after the rape of the southern high country by the timber and land companies the forests are still fighting for restoration. This is why those places appear to be alpine environments, which they resemble but do not match ecologically.
|One of the best examples of the false alpine environment in the South is the area known as Grayson Highlands in southwest Virginia. 5,000-foot peaks covered in mainly rocks, scrub, and grasslands.|
|I need to head back to this area. It offers great terrain for hiking.|
|Not far from Grayson Highlands (and considered part of it) is First Peak. Almost all grass and shrubs and heavily eroded because of its popularity with the horseback riding crowd. Steer clear of this particular spot unless you enjoy hiking in muck.|
|One of my favorite false alpine peaks–Sam Knob.|
|In West Virginia the best example of this setting is in the Dolly Sods Wilderness. What looks to be at this point a field is, in fact, a vast wetland. Impossible to hike, it’s actually a sea of soggy peat and rare plants.|
|Another view in Dolly Sods. You can understand why it’s so very popular with hikers and backpackers.|
Since we’re headed to Florida on our first big vacation in 2015 I was looking at some photos from our trip there in 2013. We always hit the big first magnitude springs and the waterways that form from those sources of fresh water. One of the best ones is Silver Spring and the Silver River that flows out of it.
Along the protected shores of that river are populations of rhesus monkeys, ancestors of monkeys that were released to add an essence of the exotic to the area where a promoter operated river trips. The monkeys thrived and number (apparently) in the hundreds today. If you’re lucky, you will see some of them as you canoe or kayak or boat down the swift current of the Silver River.
|A typical view along the crystal clear water of the Silver River.|
|An adult who seemed to be watching over a female who had a brand new infant–a baby so tiny that it would fit in your hand. I tried to get a photo of the new mother with her child but couldn’t get a good angle.|
|These youngsters were fun to watch.|
|Another one of the kids.|
|Just sittin’ and checkin’ things out.|
|Life on the otherwise idyllic river is not all safety. This fellow was lying in wait amidst the cover just below where the monkeys were going about their routine.|
This has meant that I’ve had to stay close to home and have not been able to head into the high country. The problem with the city in which I make my living is that it is not convenient for trips to the mountains. The nearest area that I can reach that allows me access to good trails is roughly two hours of driving. So if I choose to take a day-trip I am faced with a minimum of four hours of driving, and I am not a big fan of driving. I find that I face so much stress on the drive to and from the mountains that the good effects of the forests and hills are cancelled by the chore of access.
But next week I have a rare four-day weekend and we have reserved a campsite in the Pisgah National Forest. So we’ll be hooking up the newly refurbished Casita trailer for a trip to a nice, forested campsite where we’ll be able to relax and I can do some hiking and play with the cameras and the new GoPro video again.
|This isn’t where we’re headed, but similar. This is actually Hurricane Campground in southwest Virginia. We long ago decided that this was our second-favorite campsite of all time. We plan to return there someday.|
|Our setup that week at Hurricane.|
|I’ll find a nice trail and hike into the deep forests toward a lofty summit.|
|And find some peace and quiet…maybe up in the clouds.|
Some of my long-time blog audience should recall my trip to California to be a part of the mass author signing for the book. Ray Bradbury, Norman Corwin, and John Tomerlin were there and all three have passed away since. I was fortunate to have met them all that day.
If you’re looking for a new volume of fantastic fiction for your library, buy a copy of this new edition of THE BLEEDING EDGE.
|THE BLEEDING EDGE.|
|Ray Bradbury autographing my copy of the anthology.|
|Among some genuinely great authors.|
|A CONFEDERACY OF HORRORS.|
Recently I was in an independent bookstore and they had a novel by him on sale. The price was right and the cover blurbs looked interesting. So…what the Hell…I decided to spring for the price of the novel.
It’s called GUN MACHINE and it’s pretty good. It’s a classic detective novel featuring a New York City Police detective. The first five chapters or so are jam-packed with classic detective novel simile. Think the best of the old cats in the form and not some of the talented newer folk like Joe Lansdale. That stuff hooked me but I began to wonder if he could do that for the duration of the entire novel. My feeling is that he could, but chose not to do that. The average reader would have been hooked by that point, so why wring the old drippy gray thing dry when you don’t have to?
The story centers on Detective John Tallow who, in the first few pages of the novel, loses his partner to a crazed naked man brandishing a 12-guage shotgun (said nudist blowing his partner’s brains out). Tallow returns fire, kills the guy, and then makes an accidental discovery that brings down a shit-storm of woe on the detective and the investigative team who form around the event.
Ellis tells the story in quick, short, effective chapters, splitting the narrative between Tallow and the mysterious killer we see described only as “the Hunter”. Tallow has to figure out the origin and the meaning of an apartment decorated with hundreds of handguns used in the commission of murders. What is the gun used by the Son of Sam doing in there as a part of that metal collage? And how did that gun even get there when it’s supposed to be in police-controlled storage?
The author takes the reader on a curious journey through the history of the City of New York. From its earliest days as land being stolen from its native inhabitants, to the modern mystery of corruption and calculated murder.
It’s quite a feat and I rather enjoyed it. My only problem with the book at all was one moment over a chance meeting that was so improbable that it bugged me to no end, and I couldn’t figure out why Ellis couldn’t have come up with a better way to otherwise create an explanation for how those two characters could have met.
But if that’s all that bugged me, that’s a rare feat.
A pretty darned good book. I’ll have to see what other prose he’s written. But I still haven’t read any of his comics. Not sure if I will. Superheroes and all that kind of stuff, you know…
|GUN MACHINE by Warren Ellis.|
The cover looks to have Jack Kirby layouts and is signed by “Simon & Kirby”. The women and the male figure look like classic Kirby from the period,but the man’s face looks to have either been redrawn by someone else, or just very heavily inked until it bears almost no resemblance to a Jack Kirby piece. (It’s also possible that the cover was penciled by Simon and then heavily inked by Kirby.)
The interiors have two Kirby stories which I’ll try to either photograph or scan later.
|YOUNG LOVE #1 (1949).|
A guy is running a series on YouTube pairing entire old Jack Kirby stories with music. You can experience rare Jack Kirby comics online–the entire comic with accompanying tunes. It’s amazing and needs to be seen. The time and effort he’s putting into these is impressive!
I have not read this comic since I was about nine or ten years old. It has been that long. Yes, I’ve had many copies over the years, but it was when I was a collectibles dealer and I didn’t have time to read them. Back then, old comics were just a commodity to me. Yes, I liked them and felt affection for the old books, but all I was concerned with was selling them as fast as I could at a profit to enable me to buy the next collection coming down the line.
Nowadays, all I do is collect. I’m not in it to sell them. I buy them because I love the old comics and because of the nostalgia element.