Coontree Loop and Wildflower Findings

This weekend’s excursion was to Pisgah National Forest. I hiked the Coontree Loop which is adjacent to Coontree Mountain (though it might even climb up part of the mountain). I’ve embarked on this trail a number of times with Fox, but never got very far. There are plenty of water crossings for him to jump in at the start of the trail, so it’s a nice place for a small hike with him; however, now having done the whole thing, I would not make him hike the full trail due to the amount of uphill hiking that is necessary. The path is by no means flat. (Then again, is anything here in North Carolina flat?)

Two sides of the trail are surrounded by lush forest, with plenty of flowers at lower elevations. The top portion of the trail is actually shared with the Bennet Gap trail. It opens up to views of surrounding mountains, though these will be diminished once the trees fill in.

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Searching for Wildflowers

Since I’m always taking pictures of nature, I thought it would only make sense to start trying identify some plants. My other goal is to eventually use the images in my embroidery pieces. To help in tracking down what’s what, I received a lovely copy of the National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to Wildflowers – Eastern Region for my birthday in December. Spring finally decided to come around and the flowers are coming up, so I can actually start using this book.


It’s quickly become apparent that plant identification is not that easy. There are so many variations for flowers and leafs that are based on areas. Also, just because you see a flower, does not mean it’s a wildflower. It could easily be a flowering vine or something else.

A friend and I hit the Appalachian Trail yesterday in Nantahala National Forest for a day hike. It’s still a bit brown up there, but the forest is trying. Ferns and flowers were sprouting, and buds were trying to come out on trees. I snapped pictures of a few flowers. And I took a number of pictures of ferns (though I still need to get a book on fern identification).


Large -flowered Trillium: These flowers were located at a lower elevation, where the trail climbed up from the road. Sparingly sprinkled throughout the woods, these plants consisted of one large white flower with broad green leaves. They were turned up when we started hiking, as if searching for sunlight. When we came back down, they had twisted outwards.


Philadelphia Fleabane – Fuzzy little flowers found in small clumps throughout the woods. They were often right next to the violets.


Violet – This appears to be some sort of violet. Based on guidebook descriptions, our region, and location within the forest, I think this is the Common Blue Violet, but it is a bit lighter in color, matching that of Birdsfoot Violet.

March On

It’s January 20, 2018. The first anniversary of the Women’s March has occurred. After having marched in Asheville, NC for a second year, I have mixed feelings.

While the crowd was not as loud and raucousy as it was last year, there was a feeling of determination and purpose. I have been disheartened with the political scene in our country. And I feel that in comparison to last year, my drive and hopes that we can make things better has diminished quite a bit. Hopelessness set in.

Yet in marching today, I’m reminded that awareness and acknowledgement are the first steps in any situation. While these two things do not solve problems, they are catalysts in the problem solving process.

I don’t know crowd totals, but it was apparent in Asheville and throughout the country that the people still remember last year and still feel the need to march. There was an influx of teens who joined the fold. Asheville’s march was even organized by a group of them.

Does this mean there’s hope for equal rights; women’s health protections; a decent and just government? I don’t know. I think we’re all on the edge of our seats waiting to see what will or won’t happen next. There is hope, however, that not all of the next generation will go through life completely oblivious to political and worldly affairs– something that I feel has sadly been a bit of a downfall for us adults in today’s society.

Regardless of heavy thoughts and feelings, it was definitely a positive day spent with friends and several hundred people who all marched again with a purpose.

Review: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

artofaskingIn the past, I’ve enjoyed Amanda Palmer’s music. She was a street artist first, a musician second, and an author third.

In February 2013, she gave a TED Talk entitled, The Art of Asking. The speech/video was an instant success that is still making the internet rounds today.

In my mind, I figured that if a 13 minute speech could be that popular, then perhaps the book that came after would hold some additional knowledge and inspiration. Unfortunately, her important message in the book can be summed up in a short essay. The rest of the book seemed to be the life and times of the “amazing, loving, talented and selfless (but not really)” Amanda Palmer.

Palmer does emphasis throughout her book the importance of asking for help in any number of ways and situations. Asking for help in one’s personal life, at work, at school, etc, should not be viewed as a sign of weakness, but rather it should be viewed as a sign of strength. As people find the strength to ask for help, they can find their self esteem; better their situation; and perhaps better situations for others.

She also makes the strong point that it is important to make connections, and you never know where that might happen. A complete stranger that you begin small talk with can later have a great impact on your life.

As an artist, creator, or business person, it is ever so important to find your audience and continue to learn from them and learn about them. If you do not know your audience, you will not be able to connect with them.

In all things, you must also know your worth. This will give you the confidence at times to ask for help, advice, or tangible things.

The one quote that really stood out for me was:
“Asking is, at it’s core, a collaboration.” (page 47)

Unfortunately, the rest of this book was a complete disappointment. Palmer proceeds to tell the story of HER. Although she preaches the art of asking, and discusses the importance of kindness and others, there seems to be an underlying theme throughout the whole book, and that is the promotion of herself.

I can see where her most devoted fans would argue this to the bitter end. At face value, it seems that Palmer is a very sweet person, but she also has narcissistic tendencies, a lack of focus (the narrative bounces all over the place), and a skewed view of society as a whole.

While it would be lovely if everyone would give to each other – gifts, needs, kindness, love – it’s not something that one should ever expect all other humans to understand or believe. Palmer expresses her sadness anytime a complete stranger is not willing to play along with her carefree artistic and sometimes impromptu escapades, nor should she expect random strangers to stop and help her exactly the way she asks. She also makes note that she lives every moment of her life very publicly via her blog and Twitter. She prides herself on sharing and trying to connect others through her voice. However, upon any criticism or backlash, she seems to become hurt and loses a bit of faith in humanity.

The world simply does not work the way Amanda Palmer would like it to work, and it never will. She may know HER audience, and they may trust her with their lives, but she fails to look outside that realm and comprehend that there are other audiences — a whole world of people — out there. No one will ever be able to cater to all audiences, not even Amanda Palmer; but everyone can at least listen, respect, and try to be considerate of others. That, I believe, is a reasonable goal.

The annual visit

Every year. Every 6 months.

The emotions are forever rotating.

Anger. Frustration. Understanding. Thanks. Sympathy. Sadness. Calm.

Pick an emotion and give me a trigger.

The facility- pissed.

The receptionist- understanding.

The hospital wristband- tears.

The patient artwork- sympathy.

The insurance- frustration.

The waiting room- calm.

Perhaps worst of all is the whole situation, the whole system.

Going to appointments is now like going to church when you don’t believe in the faith or diety… which I don’t. It’s a feeling you can never quite describe.

I wish I was still stronger — that I could just go through the motions without emotion like I did in the beginning.

I was determined because I wouldn’t stay sick.

Now I’m all of these other emotions because I’m not.

Little Jerry Bernstein – The Littlest Glider


How many paw prints can a heart endure in a lifetime?
With each small being, a new mark is left.
With each passing, a void grows where the print was made.
And we are reminded of the love that has always been and will forever remain.

Little Jerry Bernstein – the littlest glider. He was wee, and he was one. Born March 2005. Passed November 7, 2017. He had love for us, for his Buttons, and for his friend Fox. Sleep well little one.

The Woogie Song –
(Yes, sung to the tune of the Munchkinland song)
Come out. Come out, wherever you are.
And meet the young woogies who fell from the stars.
They fell very far, or haven’t you heard?
When they fell from above, a miracle occurred.


Jerry & Buttons

National Parks and the Failure of Humans

This article regarding rate increases in National Parks honestly hurts my heart.

The National Parks are for the public. Entry fees should not be obscene. There are many things going on here though….

1. We live in a country where people spend more than they should on things they don’t need. “We’re all going to DISNEYLAND! Or we’ve got to get new iPhone! But we can’t afford to pay for XYZ.” Of course the government will justify that people will be willing to pay a higher entry fee. HOWEVER, how likely are most of those people to actually visit a National Park?

2. “Targeted fee increases at some of our most-visited parks will help ensure that they are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the amazing destinations they are visiting,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement.

The above just pisses me off. Of course he’s going to say that. And when the parks start failing, our anti-planet loving government will just take them over and slowly chip away at the lands so oil, mining, and whatever else god awful crap they’re in cahoots with can dig in.

I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be a fee increase. I understand how the worth of a dollar goes up and with that so do prices on everything. However, to put a high price on entry into nature is a crime.

Also while I am grateful that there are sections of land set aside so humans cannot touch them, if humans were good neighbors to other species on this planet, we wouldn’t have to set that land aside. We would encroach on everyone’s space just because we can.

The predicament here is human-based all around. Broken down further, the government is failing its people and people are failing their planet.