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I am sitting here at Jenkins Shelter with three friends from Bluefield. We are out on a day hike from Burkes Garden to Laurel Creek in Bastian. With me are Dale Vance, Dan Trent, and Peter Romano. This is Peter’s first time hiking on the Appalachian Trail and he is having a blast. Today’s hike is about 9.6 miles and it will be the third time I have hiked this section. The last time was probably over 15 years ago. We are eating lunch at the shelter and when I opened my pack to get my tuna fish sandwich I found a bunch of rocks in my pack. Boy was I mad! I had been hiking the last 5 miles with 15 pounds of rocks. Of course Dan, Dale, and Peter were laughing their heads off wondering when I would notice the extra pack weight. To say the least, I did not think it was funny and hardly talked with them rest of the day. In fact, I just ate quickly and headed back to the trail. That just ruined my day.

Well I am really just joking about not talking to them and being mad but Dan did put rocks in my pack. I will get him back one day when he least expects it. Ha!

We have seen lots of wildflowers today and the mountain laurel in the lower elevations are in full bloom. I love their pink umbrella shaped blooms. It reminds me of the time when I hiked at Bear Mountain State Park in New York walking on a carpet of these fallen flowers. There were a few rhododendron plants blooming and the wild azaleas were in full bloom with blossoms from bright yellow to dark red. We have not seen a lot of wildlife, just a few frogs on the trail. The birds are singing like crazy as I sit here at the shelter. I hear them along with the crumpling of plastic and gravel crunched under hiking boots. It is a beautiful day out with temperatures in the 70’s and partly sunny skies.

Our hike is finished. It is 4:30 and we started at 10:30 this morning. We had a great refreshing time in the woods. I am now sitting on a rocky shoal at Laurel Creek. There is a little falls here that the AT footbridge crosses. When I arrived I dipped my hat in the water and placed it on my head letting the cool water drip down my neck and face. Ahhh, that feels good. The sound of stream is tantalizing, mesmerizing, and healing. There is nothing like a cool mountain stream to finish the day at. Dan is sitting on a small island of rock surrounded by flowing crystal clear water. His legs are hanging over the falls and he has a big smile on his face. During our hike Dale told us some great funny stories. He always makes us laugh and helps us get up those steep mountains. I haven’t hiked with him in over 16 years. At that time he told us Margaret was pregnant and they were starting another family. They already had two children who were almost finished with high school. He said the kids were each 18 years apart. Caitlin is now 16 and Andrew 14.

I love hiking the Appalachian Trial and you can’t beat good friendship and Dale and Dan have been gems for me.

 

 

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Another Watercolor

This is a watercolor I just finished of my Grandmother, my mother’s mother. The stamps I used were from my fathers collection and I picked out some old ones that related to her. Two are of Eleanor Roosevelt since she lived through the depression, one is a campfire girls stamp (my mom was their only child) and a register to vote since she would have been a young woman during the woman’s suffrage movement in 1920. I also included an Atlanta Braves envelope on the watercolor since she loved Dale Murphy and the Atlanta Braves. That also is addressed to K and H Royal Tires. Charles Kitchen is my godfather.

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Recent Watercolor

This is a watercolor I just finished of my Grandfather, my mother’s dad. The stamps used were from my fathers collection and I picked out some old ones. Several are 3 cents, an air mail one is 6 cents, and a special delivery one is 16 cents. One postmark says 1940.

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Ceramic Chess Set

Ceramic Chess Set

Recently I finished my half of a chess set I am making with a student. Here is a photo of the finished pieces. The are glazed a light purple using a Meloy Stoney glaze underneath and a blue celadon on top. The complete set will end up being about 36 inches wide.

Pawns

One of students named Tony wanted to do a collaborative project over the summer so we decided to do a chess set. Today I threw 10 pawns for one side of the chess board.  I used 1 pound of clay and the base is about 3 1/2 inches wide and they are about 4 1/4 inches tall. I made two extra in case there is a crack, glaze defect, or other irregularity.

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I recently made 42 small bud vases, 14 medium size bowls, and 50 wide bottomed coffee cups.

 

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42 Bud Vases

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14 Medium Bowls

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Getting ready to glaze some bowls and coffee cups.

I love working in my new studio.  So far this summer I have throw 100 coffee cups. Fifty of them have a wide flat bottom which I have never made before.  I own a few of these myself – cups by Josh Manning, Jeff Diehl, and Jim Connell. I love using them especially when riding in a car as they are not tipsy.  I have also been working on some of my collector series pieces using found objects and clay.  Here is a photo of some in progress. The bottom right piece has a doll and a toy horse I found on our farm. It has a theme of a little girl growing up. The middle bottom piece is made of tools that my grandfather owned that I inherited after he passed away. The top right piece has a lot of discarded ceramic earrings that Linda and I made over 25 years ago. The middle top piece has over 20 thimbles that my grandmother used. These pieces will hang on a wall and for me are like tree burls.

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