Tag Archives: North Carolina mountains

Spring has arrived – finally – in the North Carolina mountains … and there’s music in them thar hills


Spring has sprung in Brevard. High time, too. The raised bed garden has gone begging longer than I’d hoped for. But the recent warmth has pushed the envelope and it’s time to get in gear garden-wise.

But Brevard is more than just jamming seeds into black dirt. There’s music in them thar hills and with tourist season just around the corner the little town has begun to stir from its cold season slumber.

Alas, Ellen, Tim and the girls will get a visit from me in short order. Tending to the garden will be left to the caring hands of neighbors and Robbie. 


April 23, 2018

Ellen/Reid: It’s raining this morning but for once I won’t be cranking about it since the lawn and the garden could both use the moisture. The peas, romaine and spinach are all up, the blueberries are booming and the raspberries seem to be making a tepid recovery from whatever ailed them. There’s a chance for a trip to the nursery later today for some herbs to grow in pots on the back deck. Space in the raised bed garden is too precious for herbs, what with tomatoes and peppers on tap in the near future. Ellen, tell Tim the two of us will need to sit down while I’m up there to plot the plans for the the deck extension which should be started in late May or June. Hopefully I should be able to do most of the labor.

Kitty and Tom Bohr were here for the weekend and it was really great to host them. They are salt of the earth people and it also gave Tom and me a chance to kibbutz about our upcoming 30 day trek through the French Alps. fullsizeoutput_3014It really hasn’t been on my radar at all, but as you both know Tom is a planner extraordinaire and so that has me jizzed up and anxious for the trip. Ordered two trail guides from Amazon a few minutes ago. About the only major purchases left to make are some new ankle-height Salewa boots and some light-as-air hiking poles from Z Pack. Tom highly recommended the poles. The downer is you can’t stow them in a pack but will need to put in checked baggage at the airport. We spent Friday night bar hopping – if you can do such a thing in Brevard – and we polished it off with live music at the Phoenix and the Fox. The band was just crazy.

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You pay your money and take your musical chances at the Phoenix and the Fox. Usually, you come out a winner.

Three good musicians and a woman (the girlfriend of one of the guys) who dressed in a pink princess gown and tooted every so often on a kazoo. It seemed her real job was to waltz through the crowd with the tip jar as the band played on. It was so fun. We walked downtown and back on a lovely evening. 

They went on to Black Mountain on Saturday to visit some other friends from our former church at Caldwell. Robbie and I spent all of Saturday grooving to 10 bands at the Songfest at the Brevard Music Center and it was incredible. $4 Oskar Blues beer, too. Such talent there is here, and from Nashville, too, where many of the musicians are anchored. The raucous finale was two hours with the Wood Brothers, and they were just flat-out unbelievable.

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Oliver Wood had fans reaching for more, more, more music.

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For a trio, the Wood Brothers can really bring the music. Man, I hope they return next year.

They had the crowd jumpin’ and hollerin’, so much so that the sparse security finally gave up trying to keep dancers and revelers from the front of the stage. The crowd just overwhelmed the two person music police. It was the first-ever such fest and it’ll be a sell out next year. I will seek out the Wood Bros. to see them again. Their lead singer, Oliver Wood, has one of the most distinctive voices heard in a long, long while. What a high-energy show.

Sondra and Jody and our Irish buddy Luke will visit this weekend for golf and no doubt music, beer and fun somewhere in town. This is what the mountain home was intended for; to have people visit and spend some time. I’ve offered it to them and Andrea and Kurt while I’m traipsing through Europe and they are welcome to commit at the last minute if that suits their schedules. From the look at the social/music schedule in Brevard there will be a whole lot going on. That’s why I’m excited for the spring/summer season to really be here. The next big thing is the White Squirrel Festival over Memorial Day weekend. They shut down the two main drags, Main and Broad Streets, for live music and vendors and stuff like that. If you guys want to visit, let me know and the arrangements will be made.

I legitimately slept until 9:15 this morning, far and away the longest I’ve legitimately slept in bed for more than a decade. Felt good for a change. Must’ve been the dark, rainy skies that kept the sun at bay. Now’s time, though, to head to the gym to work off the beer/food pounds added this weekend.

Love, Dad

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Events gone by … and a record for 728 words


One of the drawbacks to posting letters after the kids receive them (rest assured that receiving a letter is not the same as reading it in a timely fashion) is that certain events will have already fallen by the wayside. This letter is chock full of several such examples. But that’s the price to be paid for giving Ellen and Reid first dibs on the letters.

If you notice more typos than usual, that can be pegged to the headlong rush to write and get last week’s letter in the mail before a dead sprint to the airport. And a record it was: 728 words in seven minutes, start to finish. So much for proofing and editing for errors.


July 5, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Reid, since it’s your birthday we won’t get in to how your mom and I gave you the nickname ‘Razzmatazz’ but trust me, you earned it. It really just seems like yesterday that you guys were running around 104th street and wolfing down the raspberries in the garden. It really does. But since this will find you a few days after the fact, I hope you had a good one, kid. And I’ll see you the week after next. You didn’t tell me what you wanted for your b-day so perhaps we can change something down in Chicago.

Ellen, I’m plopped on the couch waiting for a ride to the airport from my friends Andrea and Kurt. I’d really like both of you to meet them at some point since they are truly great people. Plus, they have fun attitudes and good kids. This letter has to be written faster than usual since they will be at the doorstep in short order. They had me over for a family dinner last night with Andrea’s sister and her family, and her parents. It was an honor to be there. But what a hoot that family is. Oh man, they know how to have fun – and how to poke each other in the ribs.

Got the ticket to Barcelona, one way, for $624. I paid an extra $40 for trip insurance, although I don’t know why there would be a reason to scrub the trip other than for something catastrophic. To be honest about it, I approach Spain with some trepidation, in part because I’ll be by myself and it’s wholly new ground to me to make such an adventure. But the guidebook guy strongly recommends that people make the trip solo although he approaches it from a more spiritualistic bend than the reasons I’m making the trip. But that could be a majority of the fun; finding out what you’re made of and if you have the gumption to see the mysterious and unknown through to the very end. It’s a great thing that Jane and Dave will join me on the first three critical days from St. Jean to Pamplona. That will get me off and running. Or at least off and walking. I’m not sure how the end of the trip will unfold so there is no return flight booked as of yet from Portugal. It may be that by that point I’ll be emboldened enough to head north into France or even up to England for a continued adventure. We’ll see. Since I pick up Tom in Chicago, Reid, for our trip to the Bridger, it will give me time to talk through the entire Camino scenario.

Spent a couple of fun days in the mountains with my friend Lynn and a new buddy, Bruce. Both are very good golfers and Bruce and I spared no expense in giving Lynn the needle, although our attempts at humor wore off toward the last day.

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Golf in the North Carolina mountains means lush courses – and temperatures 10 – 15 degrees cooler than hot, steamy Charlotte.

But Lynn has an incredible mountain house with a natural stream running alongside – and beneath portions – of the A-frame. It was just so cool to stay in his place. It reminded me that I have totally, completely squandered the North Carolina mountains. It’s been a lost opportunity.

I played golf for eight straight days and that was enough to cure me for a good long while. It’s just mentally exhausting to keep your head on straight on the course. Minnesota, and Wyoming, will be good for me in that regard. In fact, I can’t wait.

Reid, Jody bought an Orvis fly rod package and man, has he got the bug. He really does. He is chomping at the bit to give fly casting a chance, and we went over to a small lagoon where we caught some equally small brim on tiny flies. It was good for him to get that experience of real fish under his belt. He has a cabin in Canada on a river ( I would botch the name if I tried to spell it) where they have big Atlantic salmon. Now that would be a fish to catch (and release).

Okay. This is a record for a letter. Seven minutes from start to finish. Off to the printer, and then it goes into the mail. See you both very, very, very soon.

Love, Dad

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There’s always Hilton Head, kiddo. There’s always Hilton Head …


This letter was literally old news not 36 hours after it was mailed, overtaken by mid-week events that turned my life maybe not upside down but at least sideways. Depending on one’s perspective on the specter of unfortunate news, it either dims the lights or turns the bulbs up bright.

I prefer the latter over the former. To be otherwise doesn’t really doesn’t do anyone much good. You either fall on your butt and stay down or stand on your two feet and move forward. I’ll take the latter over the former in that case, too.

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October 26, 2015

Ellen/Reid: At last the guest bath is done. Or at least 98% of it is done. The towel racks and other hooks are minor annoyances but the installation will be done soon enough. It should be all done within the next 24 hours. It’s somewhat amazing that it came together as quickly as it did; the contractor, Brian, is really good and I just fell between the cracks, in a good way, in his work schedule.

Sure, this may be a man's take on a guest bath but what the hell. It beats what was there.

Sure, this may be a man’s take on a guest bath but what the hell. It beats what was there.

The lighting gave me some concern since I wasn’t sure how big the hole in the drywall was behind the crappy old fixture. But the hole was small, and I could finagle a junction box in there so there wasn’t as much drywall work as anticipated. The wiring was cinchy. The tile worked out well and the coloration of things seems to these sad eyes to be relatively coordinated. Ellen, I’m not hep on what’s ‘in’ in terms of towels and bath mats and stuff like that so you’ll need to continue to guide me down that primrose lane. I’ll take a debut shower in it later tonight.

This was the outdated ugliness that should have been gutted years ago.

This was the outdated ugliness that should have been gutted years ago.

The downside is there is dust everywhere on everything in every room. Such are the wages of home renovation. I’ve yet to sit down to compute the total tab but the guessing is about $2,700.

Ellen, now I’ll turn the attention to the horrid first floor, brown-painted bathroom disaster. It won’t be much other than a touch up of paint and some new faucets and lighting fixtures so it shouldn’t be overly problematic. But I made grand pontifications, too, about the guest bath upstairs and we know how that turned out. Cha-ching.

Another teenager was killed this weekend in a speeding related accident a couple of blocks away from here. I drove by this morning and the crash site is literally directly across the road from another fatal teen wreck almost 10 years ago – that one was loud enough for me to hear Continue reading

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