watch and wonder

Watch the moon go by. Explanation here.


back to pretty

Red lilies are blooming in the yard here in North Carolina. Not native, of course, but nicely planted. I thought I would relieve you of the ugliness of the previous post.


the other side of nature

 The Canton Mill sits in the middle of Canton, a city of about 4000 people on the banks of the Pigeon River, in western North Carolina, in the forested mountains. Paper is made from trees. Having a paper mill in the forest means that transportation costs for moving cut-down trees are low. Having a paper mill in the middle of a small city means that transportation costs for moving labor are low, too. Having a paper mill on a river means that transportation costs for moving waste used to be low, too. Things have changed some, but the past is still with us here.


more water

Tell me when you've heard enough water sounds on this blog. Oh, and listen to the interruption at the end. Silly man.


appropriate place name

The Blue Ridge Mountains, here seen from Jump Off Mountain in Laurel Park, North Carolina, are part of the Appalachian Mountains, rising up from the Piedmont to the east, to a high of over 6,000 feet, with an average of 4,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level. Here is the watershed boundary: waters flowing down the east side go to the Atlantic, while those on the west, go to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River drainage. Lovely country.


what happens when the car won't start

Going Nowhere
10.5 inches wide x 14 inches high
cut paper collage


sunday choices

Two church signs on the same corner of an intersection of country roads makes me wonder if the two groups are competing or cooperating.


dripping water

The original highway—US Route 64—used to go under Bridal Veil Falls, here in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. Today, the road has been moved and expanded. What was left is now a turnout used by folks to look at the water.

This is what the waterfalls look like from underneath, standing in that turnout that used to be the highway. I had to stand under the waterfalls to keep dry from the rain. Funny, eh?


24 hours

Yesterday morning in Laurel Park, North Carolina.

This morning in Laurel Park, North Carolina.

What a difference a thunderstorm makes.


the other shore

Coming over to the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida means that the sand and the seashells and the water itself are different. The sand here is made up completely of broken shells, unlike the Gulf of Mexico shore that is fine, white sand. These shells are on their way to a life as shards, then slivers, then, eventually, specks, but not as fine as coffee or sand.


lizard eyes

In a Florida backyard, this little fellow kept climbing up on the lawnmower to look at me. And I looked at him (or her; how does one sex a lizard?!). Now you can look at him/her, too.


defense mechanism

Look how scary the back of this crab looks! Anyone know what this is? Leave a comment, if you do. I found this one on the Gulf of Mexico at Yankeetown, Florida.

water and wind



traveling art

Looking Past Industry
5.25 inches wide x 8.25 inches high
gouache on journal page

a little time travel

Back to Bolivar Peninsula in Texas for a moment.

This is a shark, an unhappy shark, a soon-to-be-dead and eaten shark. The fellow whose arm is holding the creature was smoking a cigar about the size of the shark and was very pleased with himself. 

The shark's skin is like metallic velvet: smooth when stroked towards the tail and like sandpaper in the opposite direction.

Other people on the beach were offering fresh shark meat for me to take home.


heaven to hell in the blink of an eye

I've been traveling down the Gulf Coast of Florida today, through what is being called The Nature Coast. It's pretty much between Apalachicola and Crystal River, maybe a bit further south. I'm spending the next two nights at a very cool little cabin at The Pine Lodge in Inglis. I don't usually advertise businesses, but this place is wonderful. Quiet, clean, and it's where the film crew for Elvis Presley's movie Follow That Dream stayed. Don't bother going to the east coast of Florida. Go to the Gulf Coast and stay here.

These fiddler crabs were running away from me as I was photographing them. There were hundreds of them. Thousands! They are little, only about 1.5 to 2 inches long.

And then, looming over the beautiful wetlands and marshes is the Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant. A view like this is plenty to bring one back to reality.

quiet and clouds

It was cloudy—a nice change from all the bright sun of the week before—but warm with a pleasant breeze. I pulled out my folding chair and my sandwich, and sat on the beach for a little bit, looking out at this view of Biloxi Bay.


what we make from petroleum

Pascagoula, Mississippi, is the home of Chevron's chemical plants. Pascagoula sits on the Gulf Coast and on the banks of the Pascagoula River, which, like many other rivers in the country, is used in industry and is often abused by those same industries. This is nothing new; it's been going on as long as people have been making things. It just doesn't stop.

Now, I can't live without chemicals, so it's not the actual manufacturing of the substances that bothers me. It's the assumption that the natural resources that we need to make these things will be around forever in their pure and useable form. There is only one amount of water on the Earth; it's just in many forms—vapor, ice, liquid—and in many states of cleanliness. That's the problem. Once we mess it up, it's extremely expensive to clean it up. And no one wants to spend the money to do that. Nor does anyone want to spend the money to make sure that water isn't messed up in the first place. Yeah, yeah, it's better than it was in the 1950s and 1960s and the 1970s, but it's not as good as it should be.

Ok. A rant. You rarely have to read this much. You just didn't smell the air today when I was photographing these pipes. It was nauseous. Really. Yuck.

good change, ugly picture

Four summers ago, when I came through Biloxi, Mississippi, I could not see the water. The entire shore was built up with condos and casinos. This is what that same place looks like today. Most of the casinos and condos are being rebuilt on the land side of the road, and the shore is being made accessible to people with sidewalks and parking areas. Using Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Nature took over to make sure that we would look at Nature.


gulf sounds

Listen to the waves coming onto the beach. And then, look at that dark grey stuff that looks like eroded rock. See that? It's sand that feels like it has lots of tar in it. That's all I know now. I'm bringing some home, so any of you chemical analysts out there who might want to offer your services would be rewarded with seeing what the sand on the Gulf of Mexico coast in Mississippi contains.

acadia to cajun

And extremely short history of Cajun Louisiana: The Acadians were French Catholics living in eastern Canada when, in 1755, the British beat the French in the French and Indian War. The Acadians were deported and some came to Louisiana because, at that time, it belonged to France. The word Acadian changed, over time, to Cajun. Say Acadian fast a few times and you'll see.
This is the church written about in that sign above. It says it all.


natural unnatural

Rutherford Beach, on the Louisiana Gulf of Mexico shore, is everything: water, sand, sky, and an industrial platform that probably belongs to the petroleum industry.

hurricane ike, 7 months later

Today is the start of the hurricane season. There is a good NPR story on this here
In September 2008, Hurricane Ike came through southern Texas and continued on up through the Midwest and into Canada. Remember that? The areal image above was taken soon after by NOAA to survey the damage.

Yesterday, this is what the area looks like. New construction (!) is going on. You can see the new houses in the background in this image.

There is lots of clean-up still going on.