Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A visit with John and Patti Hill - part I

I visited John and Patti a couple of days prior to my teaching engagement at Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts. If you're a regular reader of my blog, you might recall that I stayed with John and Patti during my visit to the Carolina Mountain Woodturners in November, 2007. I had enjoyed that visit very much, and Patti invited me to come before the Arrowmont gig, so it was something I had been looking forward to since last autumn.

I arrived on July 3rd, which was the first Thursday of the month - a date reserved for the neighborhood association potluck / meet & greet.

It was a very friendly group of people who made me feel very welcome. The food was pretty good, too.

Everyone is very social and there was a lot of visiting going on.

One of the neighbors told a story as part of the evening's entertainment.

The other bit of entertainment was provided by John Hill. He was asked to serve as the auctioneer for a fund raiser (two baskets of flowers were auctioned off to raise money to support the monthly pot luck).

I've posted many pictures of John doing auctions for the AAW over the past couple of years, but I have to tell you that I really got a kick out of watching him work this crowd of neighbors. If anyone can squeeze blood out of a turnip, it's John.

I had reported last month that John auctioned off the donations at the AAW banquet and raised more than $60K, and then did the auction for Sphere's exhibit and raised $83K or thereabouts. Thus, I got a kick out of the intensity he had in raising about $50 for the neighborhood association. Nicely done, John!

4 July, 2008.

John and Patti have developed a series of trails up on the hill behind their place, and we started the day with a nice walk. I really enjoy traipsing through their woods. There are a lot of interesting things to see there and it just feels right, if you know what I mean.

Uhmmmm, yes - a bear does poop in the woods. . .

I didn't see a pope on rollerskates, though.

I just missed the 17 year cicada emergence, but the exoskeletons were still around.

Here's a latecomer, too.

I'm really sorry I missed this biological extravaganza. Cicadas spend anywhere from 11 to 17 years underground and then emerge enmasse (by the millions) to mate and die. The event is a real bonus for birds and other animals who feast on these insects until they are nearly to the bursting point. The cacaphony of sound during a cicada event is also amazing.

I was really jazzed to see this plant - it's Conopholis americana - a parasitic plant in the family I study, Orobanchaceae. It parasitizes oak trees, and it's a holoparasite - totally dependent on its host for water, mineral nutrients and reduced carbon. It can't go through the process of photosynthesis, so it gets all of its carbon from the host plant.

I think I did a similar photograph of an American Elm tree skeleton last time I visited, but it's still a cool composition.

John and Patti - two very nice people who enjoy being outdoors.

John has a bit over 20 acres and he uses part of the land for farming. He raises guinea fowl to sell. His flock was in nesting season. John trades the eggs laid by the hens for wooden eggs, which they will sit upon. He puts the real eggs into an incubator to hatch them out.

He needed to check on the eggs after our walk - a process called candling.

He pulled this batch out of the incubator and then. . .

used a strong light source (in a darkened room) to examine the egg. Viable eggs have an obvious shadow inside where the soon-to-be chick is growing. I had never seen this process done, so I was interested in watching and posting it to the blog.

After lunch we went to downtown Weaverville - don't blink or you'll miss the sights. . .

It's actually a very nice town - a nice example of rural America, but with an active arts scene.

I was amazed at how many art studios and galleries are in this area. Our first stop was to Magnum Pottery.

This is Robert Magnum with some of his signature work in progress.

I don't know much about pottery methods of construction and so I was very interested to see the slab cut-outs used in the making of these interesting vases.

I was also curious about this ceramic fretless banjo. I thought it might just be a wall decoration,

but Robert pulled it off the wall and played it for a bit. It has nylon strings and it's actually a nice sounding instrument. Robert is also a musician. There are a lot artists and musicians in the Asheville area. . .

I think I need to look for a place to retire to in this neck of the woods.

Here's a B&B down the street that has a sculptural piece by Robert Magnum.

The garden is nice and is a popular place for weddings.

The big event for the day was the fireworks display at one of the parks in Weaverville. We had ringside seats for all the action and it was a pretty spectacular show for a small town!

No comments: