Tuesday, June 29, 2010

(Not) Trespassing: The Blue Shack

Decay doesn't have to take 100 years, sometimes just in your own life span humans can build things, and watch their tiny personal empire fall to pieces. There's always a hidden story, a mini drama, a loss, forgotten time or sometimes a death these places hold onto... but for the blue shack not very much longer.

Ya might notice there isn't any No Trespassing signs on this property, and that is because it is for sale - under $100,000 with 13 acres! ( If you want to know where it's located in Western North Carolina, send me an email.)
The house is caving in. Literally. Porch posts leaning into a V shape, if you step on the covered porch floor boards your foot will go through it. Windows are broken, wood is bending, pieces of the roof are falling off.... yet it still holds it's bright blue spirit, you can still read some of the dreams that were afloat when it was built.
The back of the house pushes up to a rather steep hill, which is probably why the blue paint has washed off, the wall is pushing outward under the weight of the roof.... even a piece of the whole back wall has opened up and a freakin' lawn chair is poking out! Somehow that is creepy.
Peeking into the windows, I didn't find much on the inside of the house --- the usual anticipation to see something beautiful in it's last run of decay was not really even there...
Unless you feel a toilet seat is beautiful....
The ceiling is peeling off in sheets, which shows the rafters.... the rafters are the only thing about the structure that still looks stable. "Stable" being used real loosely.
Since there was 13 more acres of mystery to explore, I set off up the long winding road that led back up the side of the mountain. Plants & wildlife abound...

The Fiddle Head Fern... Edible when it first shoots up in the spring.Raspberries!!! Mmmmmm - the berries will pop out those hairy shells....
Blackberries ..... about to be ripe!
Woodland Nettles and Jewelweed growing in patches together.... ( so if the nettles sting you, you can put the jewelweed on your skin to sooth it!)
Pokeberry.... not yet ready to use for dye, but the white flowers turn into dark purple berries. You can eat the young plant in the spring, but not the berries or the mature plant (although i have heard people debate this!)
Bloodroot! My favorite native plant eva' ! The root is used for dye and medicine.
Mountain Mint?? Some kind of minty, menthol, bee balm smelling herb that grows in the woods here....

More HUMAN STUFF :::::::
In places along the road there was old fencing, from when this land was most likely a pasture with some type of domesticated animal... I have heard stories from locals about how their parents or grandparents made pasture by digging around & cutting roots of trees then having them pulled by mules out the ground. That's a shit ton of work!
There was also a small hidden barn, with wide open slats --- it was totally covered in thorny wild roses making it impossible for me to go inside or get near it!
In a lil' nook I saw this cinder block built contraption, that upon closer examination I realized was an old spring water box....
I would not be drinking the water from this thing anymore- it was full of mud and I did not see water in it... either that spring has run dry or the box was old enough to have a leak down below.
Even though there had been a big huge rain storm just last night, I still found a few bits of evidence left by the wildlife on that property.
First, coyote scat (poop) totally rained on so hard that most the poop part was gone and all that was left was the huge hair glob left from the little critters it had eaten.
Then a fresh deer track in the mud, it slid a little downward because of the steep part of the path...
right next to the deer track was a patch of jewelweed (see the pic below) that the tops of the plants were eaten off....
THE ROAD ENDS :::::::::
The long long long road ended at the top of a ridge, which behind the trees you could see lots of mountains.
On my way back down I stopped to take a pic with the rocks being exposed from the erosion along the road... I LOVE big funky rocks! ANd I loooooove (not) trespassing. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Review: Rewild Or Die

"If the true meaning of sustainability involves giving back more than what you take from the land, then nothing that takes more from the land than it returns can define itself as sustainable. Less destructive does not mean more sustainable." - Rewild Or Die

Ya'll know how I love to read, and over the last year I had mostly immersed myself in fiction books - as a direct retaliation to reading years of health, self help and spiritual books.
But then I got this book called REWILD OR DIE sent to me in the mail - which can not really be put into any one category I can think of ...
  • Nature?
  • Survival?
  • Philosophy?
  • Ranting & Cursing?
  • Culture Studies?
  • Agriculture Bashin'?

Urban Scout's new book about getting back to nature is not a DIY guide that tells you how to live off the land, make primitive crafts, or hunt wild game --- it is a thought provoking book telling people WHY they need to learn these skills, why big agriculture is killing the planet, why most humans are depressed with their current situation, the main focus being on the hidden ways living in a "civilized" society makes us slaves to a life we don't really want to live.
Many chapters felt like someone had took my own thoughts and written them out in essay form - except that usually deeply philosophical shit makes me confused, overwhelmed and bored. Nearly every chapter kept me engaged, especially the ones discussing the function of money vs rewilding, and schools vs rewilding (i am someone who really hates the way money and school both currently function.) Especially schools! There were some chapters I could not relate to mainly because I am a recluse who has been out of normal society for 9 years now and didn't know about all the different types of 'groups' & 'diets' & 'styles' & 'movements' like the anarcho-primitivists? who follow certain genre of thought about how society should eat/ live/ function (or should i say dysfunction?) Chapters focusing on stuff like that I understood, but felt a little lost since I rarely make 'genre' distinctions when i meet people anymore. (Not cause I am a mini Buddha but cause i see/saw people so rarely that now i get so excited to see a human i don't give two shits to judge - i go right to talking their head off!)
I have not been in the mainstream for a while, I never really knew about all these terms, like "rewilding" (returning to a more natural state, undoing domestication). I never knew that many of the things I have chosen to do, ways I live in accordance with nature were something many people are now discussing & learning to live by! (Way cool!) Not that I thought I was alone, but never knew I had intuitively moved along with a whole movement I never saw. It's cool to find out there are others who want to be close to nature, who want to keep the environment in a supported natural state, who don't wait for an Apocalypse/End of Oil with stock piled guns...... even if they live very far away.
What is most refreshing is this book is not written in the traditional edited book style, it's personal, it's honest, it's defensive, aggressive, and sweet all at the same time - most likely because it is a series of essays taken from his personal blog (The Adventures Of Urban Scout, a hunter gatherer wanna be), making the style more modern and less bookish.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Dying Hemlock Tree(s)

I had heard about the Hemlock Pine trees in the mountains here dying out a few years ago, but had never really seen the damage, the reality of what was happening till moving here to Hot Springs, NC. Here at the Luck Cabin (and throughout the adjacent forest) there are scores of big HUGE old growth Hemlocks, and many smaller ones too - all dead or near death, falling down to the ground in piles, families of barren trunks, groves of up-turned roots.
I was told by an Old Timer neighbor that when the bark starts pealing off and shows this red color pictured here, it means it will soon fall to the ground. Another neighbor said after it's death, due to shallow roots, they will fall over within one year of dying.
The impact is much more apparent when you are standing in the forest surrounded by dead trees - from the spot I took these pictures, in a heavily, dense wooded area I counted approximately 20 dead Hemlocks from where I stood.

""The future of the species is currently under threat due to the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), a sap-sucking bug accidentally introduced from East Asia to the United States in 1924. The Adelgid has spread very rapidly in southern parts of the range once becoming established, while its expansion northward is much slower. Virtually all the hemlocks in the southern Appalachian Mountains have seen infestations of the insect within the last five to seven years, with thousands of hectares of stands dying within the last two to three years. Attempts to save representative examples on both public and private lands are on-going. A project named "Tsuga Search", funded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is being conducted to save the largest and tallest remaining Eastern Hemlocks in the Park. It is through Tsuga Search that Hemlocks have been found with trunk volumes of up to 44.8 m³ within the Park, making it the largest eastern evergreen conifer, eclipsing in volume both Pinus strobus (Eastern White Pine) and Pinus taeda (Loblolly Pine).""
Under these giant dead trees are the young new sprouts, of tiny hemlocks - ones that looks free of the disease. One thing about the forest is it knows how to renew itself... the sucky thing is, we have yet to begin to understand what the impact of losing old growth trees has on the eco system. There may be some lag time between now and like, say 200 years from now when these can right themselves again. Then again, before recorded history I have to wonder how many times species were wiped out and no one would ever know about it now... if these things are part of natural life cycles, we call disasters?
""A 2009 study conducted by scientists with the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station suggests the hemlock woolly adelgid is killing hemlock trees faster than expected in the southern Appalachians and rapidly altering the carbon cycle of these forests. According to Science Daily, the pest could kill most of the region's hemlock trees within the next decade. According to the study, researchers found that "hemlock woolly adelgid infestation is rapidly impacting the carbon cycle in [hemlock] tree stands," and that "adelgid-infested hemlock trees in the South are declining much faster than the reported 9-year decline of some infested hemlock trees in the Northeast.""
What do I plan on doing with all my dead Hemlocks? One thing I can not do is burn them, because the pine would clog up my wood stove pipe and catch it on fire ... I can use the smaller branches for good kindling though. I am hoping to get a portable wood mill out here and turn them into lumber for building. Other then that I am not sure what to do except watch the Hemlock graveyards house the bugs and birds and slowly decay, while the tiny new trees reach for the light.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pastel Pink and Yellow Moth

Now, I am wondering --- how is this good camo for this moth? It looks like a piece of high energy Easter candy! I found it inside my house hanging out by a window, a wee bit haggard by the paranoid look on it's face...
I can't help but love and be excited about it's bright strange pink and yellow coloring! It's a very tiny moth, even though it has the features of larger moths (like the lunar moth) such as a bulky fuzzy body and wide feather shaped antennae.
Anyone want to venture out and find what kind of moth this is (if ya get it I will blow you cyber kisses!)---- but even cooler what kind of caterpillar did it come from !?! I would love to know what colors it's caterpillar is!
bubbly XOxoxo

Firefly (the bug & the event)

A great bug, that makes a great light show....
Special Local EVENT::::
Speaking of Fireflies... for those of you in the Western North Carolina area (or those who love to travel for special events ) during this July there is a cool 4 day adventure in learning 'rewilding' , primitive, crafting, live off the land, and traditional skills over here called FireFly! You can take awesome classes like learning to identify edible mushrooms, basket weaving, flint knapping, bow drill, oil lamps, making net & mesh, stone knives, bark tanning, animal skinning, bowl & spoon carving.....
Ya get the idea!!! I will be there or I will be square. Pass the info on to those who might wanna join in the non electric, eco, wild livin' fun!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Large Brown Fuzzy 'Owl Eye' Moth

HOw beautiful is this moth? I know I have said everything tiny (aka little bugs & baby animals) is cute, but when things that are usually tiny are really big, they are freakin' amazin'!
Ya'll might remember those feathery antennae from the Guessing Game the other day! Do ya still think it's a male lunar moth?
The false 'eyes' on the wings are for protection from predators - to trick them into thinking there are some big eyes staring back at them and they might actually be the prey instead. Pretty cool trick... :)


Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Hunted: Ginseng

I never realized how widely sought out and coveted the ginseng plant was till I read about it in the good ole' FoxFire books - and how the men of the Appalachian Mountains made a living off of ginseng hunting throughout the woods. They sold it for huge amounts of $$$, cause the wild stuff was apparently better then the kind which was cultivated - it became such a big deal they practically wiped the plant out of it's native exsistence! People who hunted 'sang before it went to seed were looked down upon, a good fella' waited till the Fall when it dropped it's seeds so that if the root was dug up, at least more plants could grow in that spot.
"Wild ginseng is ginseng that has not been planted and cultivated domestically, rather it is that which grows naturally and is harvested from wherever it is found to be growing. Wild ginseng is relatively rare and even increasingly endangered, due in large part to high demand for the product in recent years, which has led to the wild plants being sought out and harvested faster than new ones can grow (it requires years for a ginseng root to reach maturity).
There are woods grown American ginseng programs in Maine, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.[30][31] and United Plant Savers has been encouraging the woods planting of ginseng both to restore natural habitats and to remove pressure from any remaining wild ginseng, and they offer both advice and sources of rootlets
The root is what has the strong medical qualities, most widely used for diabetes and erectal dysfunction ---> but in the old days people used it for less complicated problems like upset stomach, a burst of energy & hawt sex. ;)
The pictures here are of some ginseng plants I found near the Luck Cabin where I live - you can see in the pic below the tiny dots coming from the center of the stem that will turn into the red berries, that then become seeds. Me and Bort found this ginseng patch by accident when he stepped on one of the plants and I instantly thought ''''oh no, that was ginseng'''' ---> it took us a few minutes to give it a positive ID because many tree saplings have the exact same leaf pattern as ginseng and were surrounding the 'sang by the dozens...
The real dividing factor is the trees have a woody stem and the ginseng has a stem more similar to bloodroot - and the easiest way to tell for sure, are the berries that grow out the center.

So cool!!!! I feel rich just knowing the secret spot where it grows!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Milk Paint Is the BEST Paint Eva'!

Ya'll like my wonder woman colored shutter doors for my bathroom? (My mom doesn't! ha) .... but I am in LOVE with the vibrant beautiful colors of milk paint. Yeah, for realz, that stuff is made of a simple ancient recipe using milk and powdered lime, with natural earth pigments..... AKA: Non toxic, No VOC, safe for the sensitive, and antique looking!

I didn't make the milk paint myself, but instead bought it for a good price online from the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company. I knew milk paint didn't bother me once it was dry, but I had never had a chance to paint with it myself - and I found out that not only was it so non toxic it didn't bother me, but I actually had fun! SO much fun, that I started painting everything with it ----> bat houses, bird houses, little pieces of wood, I made a painting of a tree... I had to control myself from just painting all over the whole house and making a mess.

There are two formulas of milk paint you can buy and since I have been experimenting with both and leaving some stuff inside , some out in the weather, let me tell ya'll what the difference means in real terms:::::

***The Original Milk Paint - This stuff is awesome, and it holds up just fine inside even in an house with no air conditioning .... BUT my craft projects I used it on that were exposed to weather started to mold some. So use it inside, not outside where something will get wet.

***Safe Paint (Milk Paint) - This stuff is just as non toxic and VOC free, but they altered the formula so that it adheres to more surfaces, and let me tell ya it totally works without molding at all. Even in the rain. Milk paint used in a plastic bucket from last year that was left out in the rain still has the coating of millk paint on it, so does the metal pan - both left outside in the weather. Of all my birdhouses I painted, the "safe paint" version is the brightest colored and hasn't molded at all. The company told me this paint can be used on metal & glass surfaces too, which is really amazing.

I won't go back to using any other paint (not even the No VOC regular paints) ever again, I seriously love milk paint! Even though it takes more care, it's not all that hard to mix up.
It comes in a powder form and if you add hot/warm water it won't curdle. The deal is as it gets cold it can curdle and the company encourages using a cake batter thingy to smash it up or a electric paint mixer. I just used hot water and a stick and whooped it really hard. :)

I found that the colors mix really well together, almost like painting with acrylics! I plan on making some really cool art with this stuff - next project is going to be a mural on my bedroom ceiling of night turning into day, starting with the constellations, and ending in clouds & blue sky. yay!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Trees In The Woods

I went for a walk in the woods next to the Luck Cabin, here are the trees I saw that made me say WOW, neato, and DAng!