Cloudland Cabin Cam, November 29th, 8:28am - cold and windy with RAIN

CANVAS PRINTS ONLINE GALLERY POSTED. (all canvas prints are half price!)

2011 Photo Workshops Announced



November Print of the Month

Journal updated November 29th

11/01/10 Warmer early this morning than the past week, a few thin clouds floating just below the stars. It will take me a couple of hours to load canvas prints and then I'm off to hang a month-long show at the Mena Art Gallery, then give the first-ever ICELAND and ARKANSAS AUTUMN slide programs. I'll probably sleep in the car somewhere tonight, shoot a little bit of fall color in the Ouachitas tomorrow, then give the ONLY program in Little Rock this year tomorrow night - it is FREE and open to the public and the church location is easy to find (sponsored by the Ozark Society). We never get much in the way of a crowd for this program - probably due to the fact it is always on election day and folks have better things to do! This will probably be our LAST program on election day as a result. So there will be plenty of seats in Little Rock and it is a great time - tell all your friends! Did I mention that this will be the only time you can get all of our picture books and guidebooks and the calendar ON SALE at special price in Little Rock this year? ($20 for all books, which includes sales tax, and only $10 for the new 2011 Arkansas calendar). And don't forget the programs at the Huckabee Nature Center in Ft. Smith on Thursday, and the Rogers library program on Saturday. Then only 14 programs more to go this season!

OK, enough of the sales pitch.

I got to have a long conversation with a big old buck the other day. I was out doing a quick fitness hike with my backpack in the middle of the day - I normally hike early or late in the day but with my schedule now I don't get to do much hiking at all so have to take it when I can. Most wildlife is only active in the early morning or evening (and during the night), although often deer will get up and feed in the middle of the day - that is when many hunters are back at camp (big mistake by most hunters). I caught a glimpse of movement off in the woods, and since there are no squirrels right now I knew it must be something larger. I stopped dead in my tracks and strained to see deep into the woods, looking for any shape or color out of the ordinary. And then I saw HIM - a big old stately buck, standing on a hillside about 150 feet away, his eyes burning a hole in me.

I'm sure the old buck saw me, but he was not really sure what I was. Both of us were waiting for the other one to move. I held fast, and so did he. The buck was in the prime of his life, with heavy antlers, a swelled up neck (the "rut" is on, which is when the boys chase the ladies, and this gets the bucks excited), and a beautiful coat. My heart was pounding so hard that I could hear it - the only sound in the air. We kept up this pace for several minutes until I finally blinked - he was a lot better at this game than me. And as soon as I twitched, the buck disappeared - like in a puff of smoke! He time was better spent at the other side of a nearby meadow where no doubt a harem of does was waiting on him. I used to spend my fall days from before daylight to after dark stalking bucks like this, and often a glimpse was all you got after hours and days of work. So it was a great pleasure for me to have been able to just stand there and watch him for a few moments out of my day.

10/04/10 Yesterday was perhaps the most colorful day of the entire fall season here so far, and it is looking like today be have even more color! While much of the Ozarks has turned brown or lost leaves, many areas are just now heading towards peak. It varies widely from drainage to drainage, hillside to hillside, and as always depends on the time of day and direction of the light (backlit is best). Driving around in the middle of the day may not yield much color - first and last light are the best times - 'tis true for just about everything in nature!

I wandered around a bit during my four-mile hike out to take the mail to the mailbox yesterday, and I was quite surprised at how many short maple trees there were all over - saplings I guess is what you would call them, but they had fullsize or even larger leaves, all of them BRIGHT RED and just beautiful! There were lots of tall trees in full color as well, all backed by a pure blue sky. And when the breezes blew the air in the forest was transformed into the magic of leaffall, something you can only experience by just standing there and letting it happen all around you. Letting a falling leaf hit you on the head is good luck, so I took every opportunity to put myself into position to make that happen! One note about this - the luck is better if you stand still and have a leaf land on you - it is not fair, and indeed your luck goes down, if you charge around trying to intercept a leaf! My advice for leaf-peepers right now - forget about all the reports and forecasts, just GET OUT and enjoy the woods whenever you can, and perhaps a leaf will land on you!

We've had two great programs so far this week in Mena and Little Rock. It was good to finally see the images up on the big screen, and listen to the music as the landscapes moved around. With Pam not around to work these show with me, it was wonderful to have so much help from all you great volunteers - THANKS A BUNDLE for all that you have done! For those in the Little Rock area who were not able to attend (that was the only Little Rock program this year), I'll be doing shows in Conway and in Benton, and also just up the road in Russellville. And there are 37 canvas prints now hanging in the Mena Art Gallery - up to six feet wide! They will be on display all month so anytime you are in the area be sure to stop by and have a look. (open house back here at our own gallery will be on November 27th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving)

It was very late the other night when I completed the ARKANSAS AUTUMN slide program. The next morning when I showed it to my lovely bride, both of us just looked at each other when the last image faded and the sound went away - something was wrong - the program did not move us as it should have. So I went back to the drawing board, removed the very first piece of music, moved the ending song to the beginning, and then added a new song to the very end of the program. I must confess that the new last song sent me into an emotional roller-coaster ride as I played it over and over and over again, syncing it to the photographs. The tears were flowing so heavily that I could hardly see the screen as I typed a dedication at the beginning of the song to our dear friend Dawna. This is not my typical bit of music for a slide program, but then I guess it really is - the music has a powerful personal message for me, as do most of the songs, but this one really cuts deep right now, yet the overall message of the song is universal and one that I wish more people would adopt. It was a difficult choice to include it in the slide program, but I think it is an important addition. You will just have to come out and see what I mean. Oh yes, the rest of the program - it WORKED like it was supposed to, and the few tweaks really made a huge difference. I'm glad I spent an extra day making it right.

So tonight we are off to the Huckabee Nature Center in Ft. Smith for the first of three programs there this year (our daughter and Pam's mom will be helping me at the sales table - they do a great job), and then we'll travel to the Rogers Public Library this Saturday - which will be my lovely bride's first trip out into public!

With some brilliant fall color still lingering I'm hopeful to be able to get out and take a few photos when I can. Fill up the tank, put on your hiking boots, and have a great weekend yourself, and we hope to see you either in Ft. Smith tonight or Rogers on Saturday!




Nancy Williams shows above, I look best in silhouette!

11/06/10 A little chilly early this morning just before first light (30-something), but not nearly as cold as was predicted. I shut down the outdoor shower last night in advance of this coldest prediction, but perhaps I'll be able to fire it up again for at least another week - an outdoor shower is about the best you can get! And the lovely dogwood trees that stands guard over the shower - it still has most of its leaves, which are all blood red now, and hundreds of bright red berries too. This tree has been in full peak for more than a month now.

Speaking of full peak, my goodness we have some COLOR in the area right now! I made a quick run around yesterday afternoon to take a break from some heavy print room work. At first I ran on down to Hawksbill Crag, and while the forests on the benches above the Crag had tons of color, most of the trees that are in the "scene" at the Crag looking to the east had lost their leaves - so that location is done for this year. But holy smokes the drive along Cave Mountain Road - indeed many ridgetop drives in the area were just STUNNING with brilliant color all along the way. I ended up driving Hwy. 7 south of Jasper and it was tough to keep the car on the road since the color was so blinding. But not too many miles south and the color turned dull. In fact since the wind was blowing so hard and none of my favorite shooting locations had much color, I didn't even take my camera out of the bag - it was really one of those "leaf-peeping" road trips anyway to see what was going on and not really a photo grip - although whenever you have a camera with you it is always a potential photo trip!

One thing I have noticed with this recent POP in the brilliant color up here - many maple trees are the purest form of BRIGHT RED that I think I've ever seen - WOW! Since most of the adult trees have lost their leaves it is mostly the younger trees and saplings that are displaying all this color. I did stop once on the dusty trip back to the cabin for a snapshot through the trees at one stunning maple so you could see what I mean. In some parts of the Ozarks anyway, TODAY will be just spectacular, a classic Arkansas fall day for sure!


We had a great crowd in Ft. Smith for our program the other night and will pack up and head to Rogers later this morning for a 2pm show at the library there (FREE and open to the public, of course). I don't expect this one to be very crowded so if you are in the area you might stop by and have a look. Next week we will head to Batesville, Hot Springs and Fayetteville.

As plans stand right now our gallery here on Cave Mountain will be open next Saturday the 13th from 10am - 2pm, HOWEVER PLEASE NOTE that the gallery will NOT be fully stocked. Our traditional Holiday Open House will be on November 27th (with music, treats, and tons of great canvas prints covering the walls!). This coming Saturday will just be a time to stop by if you are in the area an pick up books and calendars (at our special program sale prices), but you can also view what canvas prints we do have and purchase them at our special holiday sale prices (50% discount!). We will also have our special "print on demand" 11 x 14 black mat print sale going on, with a selection of prints already in the bin, but you can also order prints and take them home with you (as long as my weary printer holds up).

PAM UPDATE. Pam was able to make it to Little Rock the other day for her first checkup with her back surgeon, and so far, so good. She still can't drive, nor do any "BLT" - bending, lifting, or twisting - but in a couple more weeks she will be able to begin to gradually get back to her normal routine. She does plan to make the trip to Rogers today, but Amber will be doing most of the work at the sales table - please be extra nice to both ladies - they will have great deals for you!

Sunday update - we snuck out this morning to shoot a few senior portraits and here is one of our lovely daughter:


11/11/10 A HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL VETS AND THEIR FAMILIES! No one in our country has done more for our country than our vets - do something nice for any vet you happen to meet today - your freedom is directly related to their sacrifice! And don't forget their families, who sacrifice a great deal along the way.

It's about 3am today and I'm up and trying to catch up with some e-mail correspondence after being on the road most of yesterday. For some reason our e-mail got messed up and we didn't get much until about 10pm last night, when flood of them arrived! It is kind of funny just getting up at this time of the night today - yesterday it was the time I got HOME from a program and was going to BED!

There is still a lot of GORGEOUS COLOR here and there in the Ozarks - my gosh it was just blazing yesterday! And if that color will hold on for the predicted rain tomorrow, it may really be blinding. (I doubt the rain will actually arrive, but a guy can dream!)

This post will be filled with a bunch of random thoughts that one has at this time of the day - sorry, but both the time of day and the thoughts are limited due to my hectic schedule right now. I've not had much chance to visit the wilderness, but am getting to know the highway and print room really well, which is my normal routine at this time of the year - and I love both!

It appears I may be getting allergic to doing programs. The other day during the Rogers show I got intensely ill as the images were dancing across the screen and the music was filling the air. I was able to complete the program and get everything packed up without anyone noticing I hope, but on the drive home it just got worse and I had to stop and try to find some medication - it was a struggle just walking from the parking lot into the store and waiting in line. Things got worse when I arrived back home and it was a very long night. With my plate full the next day, it turned into a long day as well, with another bad night. In the middle of the 4.5-hour drive for the next program in Batesville my illness got worse and I soon found myself nearly crawling into the Mountain Home Wal Mart to try and find some relief. I felt kind of helpless in the checkout line when I got so bad that others had to move around me when I was unable to step forward. But I was able to get back into the car and continue on to the Lyons College show OK. Fortunately I had built enough time into the schedule and was able to get all of the heaving lifting work of getting the show all set up before anyone else arrived, or noticed my physical condition. I was able to make it though the show OK, then spent another 30 minutes packing up and loading and when I looked up at the clock that said 11pm I then realized that it was actually 10pm - that clock was so high up on the wall that no one had bothered to fix it yet this week! That was like a breath of fresh air, and after a life-saving stop at the Sonic in Melborne for a giant cup of Moca Java Chiller (HIGHLY recommended!), I was on my way home.

(FYI, after doing more than 1300 of these programs over 30+ years there are two things you learn - first, the show must go on at almost all cost to personal discomfort. And secondly, during the show you must not let on that there are any issues with equipment - hardware of poersonal!)

It was 2am-something as I made it into Boxley Valley, and just to test my reaction time after a very long day and nine hours of driving, a large bull elk jumped off the hillside and landed directly in front of me - I was one of the very first adopters of anti-lock brakes way back in the 1980's and they once again saved my can - I never touched a hair on the big boy. He looked more like an Alaskan Moose size-wise than a giant Boxley elk when he turned and pointed those towering antlers down at me as if to say "SLOW DOWN!" Advice taken. To give you some idea of how many G's were applied when I hit the brakes, a few minutes later as I began the steep climb up Cave Mountain, a banana that had been sitting in the back seat pealed off the front dash and fell on the floor.

After spending much of today visiting some doctors I'm hopeful to be on the mend with no more issues at programs. Good thing too since I've still got 14 left to give! We'll be loading up very early tomorrow and leaving at 5am in order to make it to the show in Hot Springs Village. By the way, BOTH gates should have been notified of this event and anyone from outside the Village that wants to attend this program is most welcome to come - free and open to ALL! (there have been issues in the past) My lovely bride will be with me for this one, along with her lovely momma!

Then it will be onto Fayetteville on Sunday for the ONLY show this year there, and then back to Ft. Smith for our biggest show there on Monday. (then two shows in Springdale next week, and on...)

I watched ten minutes of TV last night while I was waiting for the e-mail to get back up and working. I was amazed to discover that according to the Amish tradition (via a National Geo special), it was the Bible that tells them not to have their pictures taken. Huh? Think about that...

Another entertainment note. One of our most favorite movies of all time here is YOU'VE GOT MAIL. I fell in love with Meg long before anyone else ever knew her or saw her on the big screen with Harry (when he met Sally), and she was fact #1 or #2 on my list before I met Pam (Sandy Bullock was the other one on the list). Anyway, we've watched that movie dozens of times and love it. At some point during the night as I was speeding home yesterday I got to listen to the original 1940 radio program from the book this movie was based on - Little Shop Around The Corner (XM channel 164 is what I listen to about 50% of the time while driving, with channel 51 and 27 getting the rest of air time in my car). While the punch line of the book/movie were the same, there was really only a single scene from the radio show that made it onto the modern big screen version - and I was kind of shocked to hear that the dialogue was nearly word-for-word in that scene (as noted, I've seen this movie many times!). It was the scene at the cafe where they "try" to meet for the first time - at least the dialogue outside the cafe was nearly intact. It was GREAT to hear this little bit of history.

As you may have guessed if you know me or have read much in the Journal, I've never slept very well - ever. Yesterday I finally got a prescription for some Lunesta, the only one that really seems to do much of anything for me - but I've always been too cheap to use it. With the price now down to about $1, I decided to give it a whirl. I don't know if it was a joke - or just government regulations (yes indeed, a JOKE) - but there is a bright red warning label on this bottle of prescription sleeping pills - "May Cause Drowsiness." Good grief I HOPE SO! Turns out medication only lasted a few hours before I was wide awake again (only having woken up about a dozen times), but that is a few hours more sleep than I often get, and with a steady diet of 20-hour work days for the next six weeks I'm looking forward to using this.

Pam bought her dad a special clock last year that only shows days of the week - what a great idea! Since I am beginning to add some medications to my daily routines I remarked to Pam last night that all that I really need right now is one of those clocks, and one of those daily pill containers and I'll be all set - they just need to be stored next to each other!

As a reminder I will have the gallery open for business this coming Saturday from 10-2. This is not our annual open house (which is November 27th) so please don't expect to find homemade goodies and hot cider as there won't be any. And as always there are NO bathroom facilities, nor any gas stations anywhere near us - in order to visit Cloudland you must fill your car tank and empty your bladder! That's just part of the experience.

I was asked by a head librarian the other day about wild razorback hogs in Arkansas - she had been told they were extinct. (I told her I thought so too the way our football team had been playing the last few years, but certainly they have come back to life this year, ha!) We have seen a number of them up here on the mountain, although they are still quite rare and your chances of seeing one are very slim. As luck would have it we did happen to spot a wild razorback on the way home that very day - he was actually chasing a herd of cows. Amber reported seeing the same thing while on her way to school the next morning - we called the farmer to let him know - he had already killed nine of them this year. He said while they have been doing quite a bit of damage to his land, he had felt sorry for this most recent pig and let him go. We noticed as we were driving past his place coming home late last might that his truck was out in the middle of the field - he was most likely pig hunting.

Today will be the day that we get rid of "Sue," or beloved canvas printer. If you own one of my canvas prints it came from Sue. She lived a long and productive life and her work will no doubt be on display giving joy to quite a few people for generations to come. Funny how you can sometimes get attached to a tool like that. The new printer is working out very well, and has been busy since I put it online with a lot of work in the coming weeks.

One more medical note. I can't remember if I reported the treatment that was suggested to me by my new-found doctor from Turkey that I met while in Iceland, but I found out yesterday his treatment actually WORKED and my severe tennis elbow that had inflicted a great deal of pain for more than a year was nearly healed. I found this out while at the same sports clinic I had visited back in January for this issue - I was there yesterday for a totally different issue that was on the same arm, and so they tested the elbow at the same time. The 2nd issue has kind of trumped the first one for a while and so I never really know how the elbow was doing. If I can recover from the intense PAIN inflicted yesterday to my rotator cuff area sometime in December, I'm hopeful that my wounded left arm will finally make a slow recovery back to normal (I'm left handed and have been adapting well to a right-hand world).

It is true that many times in life we must go through a great deal of pain and hardship before good stuff happens - something to keep in mind as we hit low points in life.

One final note this morning. After Pam had back surgery several years ago she tried to do some special exercises for therapy in the little pool we had up and running here for a couple of months each summer. Once the pool got closed up in the fall, she had no place to continue the therapy. The "spa" that I've had here for nearly 12 years was not deep enough, so that was of no help. This summer my beloved spa bit the dust and we had to haul it away. And we decided to give away the pool because it was becoming too much work for so little payback. But I did manage to find something that might just suit all our needs - some deep water for Pam to exercise in YEARROUND, plus a relaxing hot tub for me to use a few minutes each morning and night like I've been doing for about 30 years. I found a special hot tub in kit form (otherwise would could never have been able to afford it), and even though it took me nearly two months to put the darn thing together we finally got it up and running and it has been happily steaming away downstairs on the back deck inside the sun/exercise room. I've been able to use it these past few weeks after not having one for several months - and it has been wonderful. Anyway, now with Pam's new back issues we really needed this tub even more as we move into the winter months, yet she has been unable to physically get into the tub. The point of all this is to tell you that late last night my lovely bride approached me wearing no clothes and with a look of terror in her eyes. I knew what that meant - she wanted to attempt to get into the hot tub! I helped her get in and an then back out again and I do believe this new tub will be the answer to our collective prayers! It is five feet deep and seven feet across with plenty of room for her to exercise. Plus, I found an underwater treadmill that we tried out when the pool was up and it fits perfectly in the new tub as well. I'll take a picture of this setup one of these days to show you what it is all about - a beautiful cedar skirt in the old style of the wine vats in California that were the original hot tubs. That is exactly where I am headed now for a few minutes as a glow begins to grow in the eastern sky, and I do believe I'll be able to year something like YIPPIE, COYOTE when the windows are opened.

Enough rambling for one early morning? I hope to see a bunch of you - especially in Fayetteville on Sunday and Ft. Smith on Monday - and hope that you are able to get outdoors and enjoy what is left of this great fall season.

11/14/10 The air is crisp and clean and sweet early this morning. The bright half-moon that shown down much of the night has gone to bed and the sky above is now silent and black yet filled with a zillion twinkling stars. It is the most quiet moment of the day, the very last part of true nighttime, and in a few moments there will be just a hint of glow in the east, breaking the darkness and signaling the dawn of a new day. I love this time of day, it seems as the entire world is at peace. It is normally the coolest hour as well, and I like coolness! When I was a kid and used to go to the grocery store with mom she would not have to worry about me - I could always be found over in the frozen foods section, leaning over the edge of the open bins and breathing in the frozen air! Just FYI, since cold SINKS, they can have frozen food bins without tops and lose very little of the cold, making it easier for customers to view and select products. I hate having to open the door of them today since the door then fogs up and you can't see anything, yet you feel like you are wasting energy by holding the door open.

WOW, we had a terrific program in Hot Springs Village on Friday - an auditorium full of Audubon and photo club and other folks that were a treat to speak with! And the drive down was just beautiful! We got up about 4am to pack and make the drive down, and the sun was just rising as we started into the Ouachita Mountains. Not only was the light spectacular, but there was a great deal of COLOR all around. There was no time to stop and take photos, which I knew would be the case, so we just sped on and enjoyed the sights that rolled on by.

Seems like just about everywhere that still has leaves on their trees the color has POPPED - some really brilliant color still to be seen in Arkansas. Even on our trip back home Friday evening the colors on the "front range" hills of the Ozarks were spectacular, and I thought they had popped three weeks ago there! We've not had many leaves left up here for a while, but there are wonderful spots of color here and there where leaves have been holding on. What a wonderful fall color season we've had this year, beginning way back in September, now on into mid November!

We're headed off to Fayetteville today for our only program of the year there (2pm at the library), then onto Ft. Smith tomorrow (Monday) for our second show there - this one will be especially tearful for me since many of the hikers in attendance will have known our dear friend Dawna from Ft. Smith who passed away, and the final song in the Arkansas show is dedicated to her. Then we will have two programs in Springdale during the week, one on Thursday and one on Saturday. (By the way, if you need large quantities of books or calendars at the special sale prices be sure to let us know the day before the show so that we can bring plenty - we always have LOTS, but also don't want to run out!)

Somehow during this week I also have to select, process, print, and spray about 50 new canvas prints for our upcoming open house on November 27th. Then the following week I'll get them all stretched, new cards made up, and everything hung and ready for the show. Expect to see some brand new images, some really big ones as well as small ones - hopefully something for everyone! And of course, we make all of these available for HALF PRICE to everyone as a special holiday THANK YOU for being you! I hear there will also be special treats from grandma all day as well.

It is kind of funny that I have now finally found a sleeping aid that works for me (Lunesta), yet I won't be able to use it since I'll be putting in 20+ hour days from now until Christmas and won't have much time for sleep, ha! At some point we will send out an e-mail newsletter with the official announcement of the open house, but I continue to regard such e-mails as spam and hate to add to the pile. In the meantime you can always check here and also on Pam's Facebook Page for any announcements.

I am finally willing to admit that we are more DRY this fall than ever - very little rain for a long time now. The forest continues to be in great health though, so as long as we eventually get a hurricane come sit on top of us for a couple of days I know we'll be OK. Now that the trees are going to sleep for the winter, any rains we do get will remain in the ground or flow off in creeks and waterfalls instead of being soaked up inside the plants.

Speaking of plants, we've already seen a couple of days now with FROST FLOWERS all over the place. I've not been down on my belly yet this year to photograph any of them, but they sure are beautiful just the same. These are the little ice formations that you can see along roadsides early in the morning in some locations - it takes a temp down in the 20's for them to form, and they only form on certain plants. Each one is a miracle of nature, and if you ever see them, I highly recommend stopping and taking a closer look. Get in real close and see all the detail of the fragile ice - simply AMAZING! Once the sun hits them they will melt away quickly.

Pam continues to improve and is going with me on all programs. Our daughter will be with us today to help, and tomorrow Pam's parents will come along - I don't know how in the world we could do any of this without them! Must be a special set of wings waiting for these folks! (I am doing much better now myself and will begin a physical rehab program in Harrison on Tuesday and hope to be even better in the future - I just hope my aging body will be able to hold up for another month of this grueling schedule. And also for anyone interested, I have been able to maintain myself below the target weight of 170, although I have gotten up close to that a time or two with all of the drive-thru Sonics along the way!)

CANVAS PRINTS will be on display at the MENA ART GALLERY until November. 29th, at our CLOUDLAND OPEN HOUSE on November 27th, and also at the OAK LEAF GALLERY in Harrison all during December.

Lot of color in the eastern sky now so it must be time to get myself moving and get packed for Fayetteville. We always have a grand time at the library there and I hope to see many of you - show up early and buy lots, then enjoy ICELAND and ARKANSAS!

11/15/10 This is typical of many light situations out in the wilderness - what happened at first light this morning. I'd been up working since 4am - trying to get a full day's work in before we have to leave for our program in Ft. Smith tonight. I'd been outside several times going back and forth between the cabin and the gallery, each time gazing up to admire a sky filled with stars (the moon had already set). Just before dawn, when it was time for me to step outside to take the "cabin cam" photo for the day, a blanket of clouds moved in and completely covered up the sky. Oops, no good photo today! And then a few minutes later, just as the sun began to rise above the eastern horizon, a slit in the cloud cover appeared, which FLOODED the wilderness in front of us with BRILLIANT orange light - simply amazing! I grabbed the camera and ran out the door, took two pictures, and then it was gone - the slit had sealed up and the light disappeared, leaving just a dull and dreary winter day behind. The light was only there for literally a few seconds and I was able to get the photo that I wanted. Sometimes great light will last for hours, but most of the time it only lasts for a few moments like it did this morning.


11/16/10 The sounds of light rain are on the cabin roof this morning - YIPPIE! First rain we have had in a while, although I don't know if it is enough to even settle the dust or not, but at least there is some yellow on the radar so someone is getting a good shot of it. We got home and unpacked about midnight last night, and now up at 4 this morning - need to take Amber into Fayetteville to see a doctor at 7am about a back issue she has developed - must be something about our road, ey? (it is an 18-mile round trip on a ROUGH road whenever we go anywhere) I'll drop the girls off back at the cabin and then run into Harrison for my very first ever visit to a physical rehab facility to have them work on my left wing.

FT. SMITH WAS TERRIFIC LAST NIGHT! We had one of the largest crowds ever (especially considering we're going three programs in town this year!), and it was so great to see everyone at the show. It was like a mini-vacation for me since nearly everything was unpacked, setup, torn down, and repacked for me - I didn't have to lift a finger! THANKS to everyone who came to this program, and especially to all who helped!

The other day while Pam and I were out doing a program in Fayetteville someone ignored all FIVE no-trespassing signs and drove all the way to the cabin (we are being forced to install a gate as the result of such things). They got out and knocked on the cabin door again and again, and while I don't know if they ever actually tried to get into the cabin or not, Lucy was working them over pretty well outside, and Aspen was about to bust the front door down to get at them from inside (they were not looking for help since they just drove past our neighbor in his yard). Amber was inside the cabin alone and has been told to never open the door for anyone. My only advice to such people who seem to be unable to READ even simple signs posted everywhere - if you do manage to get inside our cabin please note that you might be met with an anxious teenager who will either be pointing a loaded firearm at you or a can of mace - I would not want to be in your shoes either way! One of our cats disappeared at the same time, and we surmised that the cat must have jumped into the bed of this green pickup truck and they took off with our feline. It was a full 24 hours later when The Trail Cat returned home - probably jumped out up on the main road somewhere and was quite happy to be back home.

OK, time to load the car up and head to the doc, and then to the other doc. I think I'll roll my windows down and let the rain splash all over my face - what a great way to wake up this morning!

Two slide programs in Springdale this week - tomorrow night at the Arts Center of the Ozarks and Saturday at the Shiloh Museum. Hope you can come see the shows!

11/18/10 I had a Cloudland Moment yesterday, and it was a good one. I think I'm wearing down after so many long work days and nights and miles and miles of driving. I started working just after 4am, then three of us scrambled until almost noon to get work done before the mail and UPS ran - thank goodness for Pam's dad, who has been lending several helping hands lately! By mid afternoon I was pretty much exhausted and nearing the end of my rope as I wandered on up the hillside towards the warehouse to get something done. The wind was blowing so hard that it literally blew me off course, and before long I was on the wrong side of the hill, surrounded by broken small bluffs and deep leaves. The wind and rocks were just too much for me and I went down, collapsed on the forest floor, or rather on the side of the hill, curled up into a ball, and fell fast asleep.

I don't know how long I was there, but as I began to wake up I had a feeling of great warmth and euphoria. The sun was beaming, and the wind had died down to a mere cool breeze, which both felt great. But there was something more. I had been curled up into the fetal position - a natural thing to do when out in deep leaves on a chilly day. And I suddenly realized that I was not alone - curled up just as tight inside my body's curl was my ever faithful companion, Aspen. His eyes were tightly shut, and he was snoring away, sleeping like a baby. His warmth and fuzziness was a great comfort to me - funny how a little critter can bring such joy! My little dog and the bright sunshine brought me back to the living, and I got up and made my way on up to the warehouse and completed my chores there, then returned to the print room with a much renewed spirit. Good dog!

We had a little bit of light rain here overnight, just enough to produce a lot of fog this morning. Ghostly images of ridges and blufflines and naked trees are rising up out of the mist. The wind has died down, and everything is in motionless silhouette. I love the graphic look of this time of year - the trees are now able to show off their true personalities without fear of color getting in the way. There is a cool mist hanging in the air, with just a few drops now and then forming together and falling on our tin roof. That air is cool and sweet, and easy to take deep into my lungs.

I was called out to rescue Amber last night - some moron had strung up that giant "caution" tape across the main county road in several places, blocking cars from getting through. Amber had no idea what it was all about, so backtracked and called home. (we heard through the grapevine later that this was done by one driver to another, which included the 2nd driver's vehicle being wrapped up) Sometimes I wonder about adults - perhaps they should require an IQ test before issuing a driver's license these days. I guess the joke was really on me, having to get out and drive yet another hour to tear down all the tape and let cars through. But then I really didn't mind at all - it gave me an actual hour free from any and all work duties, and I got to listen to an episode of Dragnet on the radio, one of my favorites!

It will be another long day over in the print room for me today, then we'll be off to our first program in Springdale (we'll have a second one on Saturday at the Shiloh Museum). Tonight's program will be at the Arts Center of the Ozarks, a place I've never given a show at before. They have a LOT of seats in the auditorium I'm told, so we are hopeful that many folks will show up since there will be PLENTY of room (not always the case for these shows). We'll be there early and all set up and ready to sell books by 6:15 or so - if you have a long Christmas list be sure to show up early to avoid the rush just before and after the program. Since we pay the sales tax on all items tonight, the price of the new picture book is about HALF the normal retail price - a great deal for sure!

The girls are up now and so I had better get onto real work projects. We hope you have a grand day today, and look forward to seeing many of you in Springdale tonight! HAPPY THURSDAY!!!

NOTICE TO SPRINGFIELD FOLKS. The Nature Center is now taking reservations for my two programs there on December 3rd - one is at 5pm and the other at 7pm (both the same shows). Free and open to the public, but you must call and reserve a seat in advance - (417) 888-4237.

11/20/10 'Tis a wee bit chilly early this morning with a biting wind that cuts right through ya! Winter must be on the way, or at least Thanksgiving. It is an hour before sunrise here now and already there is color along the eastern horizon that is spilling into the dark canyons of the upper Buffalo River area. That light is bouncing off the fog-laden air and backlighting any trees in the foreground - I just love silhouetted naked trees in this great mixture of warm and cool light! It is the most beautiful time of day, and especially so this morning. Each minute brings more light and intense color. We miss so much while staying in bed!

The overall landscape has now taken on its winter face, with wide open views up and down drainages, and blufflines that you never knew where there now beaming their painted colors for all to see. Even though rivers are about the lowest I've ever seen them, there are still emerald pools that shine up through the browns and grays of the surrounding landscape. You are free to bushwhack and wander through the forest now without fear of snakes or poison ivy - it is indeed a time for rambling, and I plan to do much of that in the coming months, both during the day as well as taking moonlit strolls. Right now the 3/4 moon is rather inviting but there is too much work to be done - but I can't wait!

Today will be our last slide program until November 29th, and even though seating will be tight at Shiloh Museum, we'll have plenty of books and calendars on sale at the special program prices right outside the door, so come on in and bring your Christmas shopping list! (get there early for the best seat at the show too) By the way, for anyone who is not able to attend a program and would like to order a quantity of books, we can make the same special program price available to you - GREAT idea for business gifts, and all the books are autographed. Send me an e-mail with how many you want and we'll get you taken care of.

We were really surprised that so many wonderful folks showed up for our first Springdale program the other night at the Arts Center - there were no less than THREE other photographers giving programs in town at the same time (plus a lot of other activities), so there was a lot of competition. We are grateful for everyone who attended and hope you enjoyed the show! By the way, the Arts Center of the Ozarks has GREAT seats with WIDE isles and plenty of leg room - yippie!

I'll be locked in the print room for the next four days working on all the new canvas prints to get ready for our first Holiday Open House on November 27th - yikes, that is just ONE WEEK from today! Also note that I have posted the first three of my photo workshops for 2011 and they are available for sign up and/or gift certificate purchase. I'll add more dates and types of workshops and classes as we get them nailed down, but so many folks have been asking that I wanted to post what I have scheduled now.

11/22/10 Oh my goodness how the wind is a blowin' tonight! And it is a warm wind, filled with moisture. The sort of wind that touches your soul and makes you smile. I broke out of the print room/spray booth late tonight and once again got blown off course, and spent the next 30 minutes out there in the woods somewhere. I felt just like a tumble weed, rambling around and crashing into stuff, falling onto the ground a time or two, but free as a bird and loving every moment of it. And then something kind of weird happened. There were broken clouds above, and every now and then moonbeams from a nearly-full moon would light up the forest, creating shadows everywhere, then the moonlight would disappear. Even when the moon was gone there were things in the forest that simply glowed - it was still bright enough to walk around, or tumble around, or be blown around. And then I got to noticing that every time the moon came out there was also a flash of light in the opposite direction - it was LIGHTNING! There was a storm approaching and the lightning was trying to overshadow the bright moon, or vice versa. It was quite a light show, and also felt a little like the Wizard of Oz just before the big one hit.

And then I thought I could hear something, or someone, calling out in the middle of it all. I stopped and strained to listen, but I could not quite make it out. A moonbeam lit him up with those glowing eyes! It was the Fat Cat (aka Box Cat), sitting next to a fallen log, just wailing away like he does. I just had to laugh. Not quite Toto, but he is a great cat that is so fat he probably would not be carried off by the winds. I guess he had followed me into the woods but decided enough was enough and finally just stopped and made his stand. He almost always stands guard outside the print room when I am working long into the night, as he was tonight, then will run out in front of me every time I return to the cabin. It was good to know that he was out there in the forest tonight, just making sure I was OK.

I've been printing and spraying and printing and spraying and now have all the printing and all the spraying done for our open house this Saturday. Tomorrow and Wednesday I'll stretch 35 or 40 canvas prints - and I'll have 65-70 total on the walls Saturday. My plan is to get an online gallery of all the images and their sizes and prices posted sometime on Tuesday - that means they will be available for order at the special 50% discount price, the only catch is that you have to come out sometime and pick them up. (the open house day would be a good time to do this, but you can come anytime) Many of the canvas prints are brand new and have never been printed before, while others are old favorites that I just had to have on the wall once again. And oh my goodness - you should see not only the big fall print of Hawksbill Crag that is the cover of the new ARKANSAS AUTUMN picture book (five feet wide), but also a canvas of the frozen Glory Hole - WOW! There is something about this image that looks SO great on canvas! It may very well be the best canvas print I've ever made (although I'll have about 70 others on display that are pretty darn nice too! There is just SOMETHING about a big gallery-wrapped canvas print).

Looks like the storm is approaching now so I need to post this and shut all our electronics down before we get blasted...

11/24/10 A cold, nasty, blowing rain is coming down this morning - and it feels just great! Nothing close to making waterfalls come alive, but the landscape sure does need and like this just to moisten things up a little bit. I have a feeling that once we get several good bouts of rain and things fill up, we're going to have a wet and wonderful winter waterfall season in Arkansas this year. And hopefully a deep snow or two as well.

Today is D day for me and the gallery. After I make a quick trip into town for a bit of physical rehab and then grocery shopping, I'm going to attempt to set a record for the number of canvas prints stretched in a single day - I've got 19 of them to do! I have been using a new pneumatic stretching machine for a few months now and have finally hit my stride and am able to work with it quickly, and the stretches are as tight and accurate and anything I've ever done, and a lot faster. It still requires a great deal of manual labor though (and with that also comes pain), and time to do each one carefully and correctly. With the current state of my shoulder and arm and elbow I probably would not be able to do much canvas stretching at all so this new machine has been great for us.

My goal for the open house on Saturday is for you to walk into the gallery and be dumbfounded by what you see. And, of course, to head back home later with something in tow and a lighter wallet! We'll be open on Saturday from 10am until 4pm. Speaking of 4, it is 4am and I need to get back to work! Here's hoping you have a grand and wonderful TURKEY DAY, and don't eat too much!

Oh, and for those who have been counting, I'm still below my target weight of 170 pounds (166 yesterday), and my big goal for the week is to make it through turkey day still below 170. It continues to feel wonderful to have shed so much weight (down from 192 in May). And perhaps an even more wonderful feeling is meeting so many other guys who have followed my lead and have drops many pounds this year - way to go guys!!! No just keep them off and stay in shape!

Oh, one last thought - my lovely bride got to break out and be on her own yesterday for the very first time since she hurt her back in August - she drove all the way into Harrison and back, yippie for her! Still a long road of rehab left, but that was a giant first step. She too has lost a good bit of weight and just seems to get better looking every day - must be the altitude...


11/25/10 HEAVY rain overnight at the cabin but the temps are still warm early this morning.. We're headed out for a 14-hour drive to my sister's house for a big turkey dinner today (with my brother doing most of the cooking - a great chef!). Our cabin sitter is in charge of all the livestock here including cats, dogs and chickens. I completed stretching all canvas prints yesterday and now have 74 of them hung in the gallery and waiting for your arrival on Saturday. Have a safe and happy holiday today, and I hope you get to dance with some turkeys!

11/28/10 Cold and WINDY early this morning, but the eastern and southern horizons lit up with fire that warmed everything up just a bit - it was quite a light show for sure! As we were returning from Illinois the other day and came over the big hill that overlooks Boxley and the surrounding upper Buffalo area we saw for the first time this year a total landscape at rest - nearly all the leaves had fallen/been blown away, and the hills were brown and smooth and seemed to be asleep - actually they were just bracing for what I hope will be a very wet and "weatherful" winter season ahead! I enjoy the views of each season, and while this one is not the most colorful, it does indeed have it own great beauty.

We had a terrific holiday open house at the gallery here yesterday with folks coming from as far away as the Texas coast, Arizona, Chicago, St. Louis, Neosho, Springfield, El Dorado, and many other places in between - many more folks than I ever thought would make it out here into the deep woods on black Saturday! Granny was at home cooking up a storm for today's Thanksgiving dinner at her house, but she sent over tons of homemade sweets anyway (funny how grandmas can get SO MUCH done!). Pam's dad and aunt and our second daughter, Sonya, all helped Pam out a great deal (Amber was back up in Missouri for turkey dinner #2 with her dad's family). It was great fun getting to see and speak with so many of you, and we THANK YOU so much for making the long trip out! The biggest issue that I had was saying goodbye to each and every print that left in someone else's car - all these canvas prints are like children to me and I hate to see them go away! By the way, even with all of the advance publicity to the contrary to prepare folks, the number one question we got all day was "do you have a bathroom?" Sure we do - pick any tree you like, ha! (sorry, but it is not practical for us to provide restrooms to the public on such a large scale with our limited water resources, which is why we spend so much print space preparing folks for this sort of thing before they arrive)NOTE: All remaining canvas prints are still on sale for 1/2 off the normal price, and the gallery will be open again on Decmber 11th and 18th from 10am - 4pm with all books and calendars and black mat prints on sale too! Click here to view all the canvas prints that are available at the special sale price.

We have a really busy week ahead - the worst of the season so far. Tomorrow we'll make the long drive to Benton for a program at the library; Tuesday I have to travel to Mena to load up all the prints that have been on display at the Mena Art Gallery all month (then make a quick trip to the doctor in Fayetteville); Wednesday we'll load up all the big canvas prints and take them to the Oak Leaf Gallery for a month long exhibit in Harrison (plus another trip to the doctor for me); Thursday we must deliver a very large order of prints to a frame shop in Rogers (I must make all those prints sometime this week - including six of them that are five feet wide); Friday after another trip to Harrison for my rehab we'll drive up and do two programs in Springfield (at 5pm and 7pm - still room left in both!); then Saturday we'll have our final program of the week at the Bentonville Library. I probably won't get much sleep this week, but will still love every moment of it!

The sun is up here now this morning and is lighting up the wilderness with a yellow glow that is quite amazing. The naked trees have so much more character with their winter undress. I plan to make a point of documenting as much of that character this winter as I can. I hope you get the chance to enjoy them too on many hikes this winter.

One last note before I prepare to be off to Granny's house for Thanksgiving dinner - I'm at 168 pounds after nearly a full day of eating at my sister's house in Illinois - yippie! - so I think I'll make it through this season OK. (my overall goal is 170 so I am doing well)


Someone is tired of program season and just wants to go HIKING!

11/29/10 Just a quickie post this morning as I begin a very long marathon week on the road. Lots of folks have noticed and been asking about the weeds that have literally exploded in bloom this past couple of weeks - normally seen along the roadsides and in powerline right of ways. We've never seen them bloom like this before and I have no idea why they are doing so this year, but it is just another great scenic item to enjoy while visiting the Buffalo River area. They look especially nice when backlit early or late in the day. Here is what our regional expert, Don Kurz, says about it:

"It is a native called Splitbeard Bluestem, Andropogon ternarius. It is a cousin of little bluestem and broomsedge. It grows in woods openings, edges of woods, roadsides and old fields. This is not a prairie grass. It is in scattered counties across Arkansas except absent in the Delta Region."


The show in Benton tonight is already packed full but there will be LOTS of room at the two programs in Springfield this coming Friday night (5pm and 7pm), and also at the Bentonville library program on Saturday - a 1pm start time for that one and not the 2pm start time that has been advertised elsewhere. As always we'll be on hand at least 30 minutes before all programs for some serious discounted books - bring your Christmas list and load up!

It is a dark and dreary day here and I've been working since 4am and probably won't get to stop until nearly midnight when I pull over somewhere in the Ouachitas to snooze for a few hours in the back of the car. I will try and make a post sometime later this week but this will be the last one for this month. I hope you have a GRAND week, and I especially hope that you can bring along many friends to either the Springfield or Bentonville shows!


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