I am still catching up with a few posts I had wanted to create, but didn’t make time for.  So going back to New Years Eve (yikes!) … some photos and a few pages from my sketchbooks.

To ring in the New Year, we decided to head to the mountains and spend a few days in a quiet cottage – with family, a warm fire in the hearth, and a little hiking.  Rather opposite of typical New Years festivities, with no ball drop and no glamorous champagne parties.  We didn’t even have television to speak of – just an old set with VCR and a few ancient videos.  With no internet connection or cellphone reception on the secluded grounds around the mountain cottage there was no email, no texts nor anything else – which turned out to be completely perfect.  We hiked, we played board games, we enjoyed wine and tea and coffee by the fire.  We gathered in the kitchen to cook  together.  We laughed and enjoyed each others’ company without unwanted interruption, which is exactly how it should be.  And so began 2014.





The quiet days also gave me time to work a little in my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, both in the cottage and while on my “nature” walks.  We had some lovely hiking on the Appalachian Trail, with clear skies, frost on the mountain tops – but the temps were quite cold with very gusty wind, so I didn’t do any mountain-top sketching.



my thank-you in the cottage guestbook


"nature walk" page - unfinished

I tend to be rather funny with my sketchbooks and journals … I concurrently keep a variety of types for a variety of projects (more to come about this).  As much as I have tried to condense things to one book for everything, it never works for me.  So for light travel, I love Moleskine watercolor journals and a small kit of pen and a few watercolors.

Back at home, I’ve been trying to expand my artistic horizons – trying out some new materials, working out of new sketchbooks/art journals, and even taking part in several online art classes.  It’s been challenging for me, but in a wonderful way. More to come…



We spent the past few days camping and doing a bit of hiking on the AT up at Roan Mountain, in the high Appalachians in northeast Tennessee near the North Carolina border.   The weather started out cool, crisp and sunny – but turned to clouds and mists in the mountains, and a bit of rain at night.  Somehow, I think hiking the Smoky Mountains in the mists is quite fitting of its name; it brings its own form of mysterious beauty.

Up on the mountain, the hiking was cool and damp as we were engulfed in swirling clouds.  We couldn’t see out across the mountains from the open balds, which normally brings some breath-taking views  – but mist provided a sense of wonderful mystery and almost a sense of disorientation at times.  Lots of backpackers and day-hikers were out, regardless.





On the Trail near Round Bald, there is a memorial to Pierce Templeton situated among some rocks – with a Bat Cape tied around the cross marker.    Apparently he was known as Batman.  I don’t know if he was a local, a through-hiker, or a devoted day-hiker, or some combination of … but seeing the cape fluttering in the mist was both moving and a bit eerie.  Rest peacefully, Pierce.




At Roan Mountain State Park we took some time to visit the historic Miller Farmstead.  The park was holding its annual Autumn Harvest celebration at the Farmstead, and we enjoyed getting to tour the grounds and the farmhouse, and also to parktake in some food and music.  A number of local craftspeople were on hand, showing their talents – from woodworking to soap-making to spinning.





We enjoyed the sound of Appalachian folk music performed on the porch of the old farmhouse by a talented couple playing fiddle, banjo, dulcimer, autoharp, and guitar.




In the old Miller farmhouse – which was inhabited by the family’s descendents until the 1960’s –  the walls of the second-floor bedrooms are papered on old newspaper.  Remarkable to look at, and read the old dates, articles, prices of things in ads.  Apparently the papering was a cheap way to provide a little protection from drafts, maybe a bit of insulation.  As time has passed, it has yellowed and become tattered and peeling – yet I’m glad it remains.



The Appalachians in the fall have such an indescribable air to them – whether you are able to enjoy the fall colors on a clear sunny day, or hiking through misty glades of rhododendrons and patches of autumn-red high mountain blueberries, traversing mountain creeks and open balds.  It’s a beautiful place; come visit.