NC Land – The Challenges: Landslides

Mountain lots afford spectacular views. The trick is keeping your house where you built it.

Sobering reading can be found here

From the above web site.

Now, we won’t be building on a debris fan like this apartment developer did. But will we be building in that yellow-bordered area? That’s no fun either.

To determine our fate, and if we should build, or cut our losses, the State of North Carolina, after 5 people were killed in a landslide in Macon County in 2004, ( ) ordered “landslide maps” to be created for 19 high risk counties in the state.

Four counties got maps before the NC legislature pulled the plug on the project, apparently due to howls from the real estate industry about lost sales from the information on the maps.

NC cut landslide hazard program, despite dangers

Caveat emptor!

Our home site(tm) is perched on a ridge, so as long as nobody removes dirt/rock from the base of the mountain, and as long as we don’t overload the land with water from sprinklers, driveway runoff, septic tank fields, or experience torrential rains, we should be okay.

Needless to say, we will be visiting the roads downhill from us, looking for old debris fans. We are also consulting the excellent maps for our county, one of the lucky four counties to get maps, though oddly, not available on the county’s web site anymore.

It appears our property is not in a risk area, but there’s a mountain west of us that is, and the debris field will run through the valley below us (which has houses and a church or two.)

The other option being we walk away from this and find some nice flat land without views. That seems to be the wiser thing to do. Not that I’m prone to wise decisions.

NC Land pt 1 – The Project

We have a little piece of land in Western North Carolina. It’s been a few years since we’ve been on it, and even longer since we worked on it.

Here are some “before” photos from 2003.

The land straddles a ridge, with most of it on the south side. The north side is full of ferns.

A year later we cut down some trees for the “home site”, and even got a septic permit (good for 5 years.)

I wonder what those logs look like now?
I wonder what this spot looks like now.

So we’ll be back later this year. We are waiting for a good freeze to kill the chiggers first.

Kiln Fun!

Reports from my artist wife indicated an issue with the kiln not heating up – like staying at 1775 degrees F for 3 hours yesterday. Never saw 2,000, much less 2,200.

We partially unloaded the still pretty hot pieces this morning – enough to see all of the elements, then turned up the infinity switches to high and turned off the lights. Only two sets of elements lit up, the bottom two.


So I turned those two off, since they seem to work fine.

Then I fiddled with the next switch up (#4 from the top), twisting the knob back and fourth, with the theory that it is highly unlikely the remaining elements all burned out at the same time, and that it may just be dust and buildup on the switch contacts.

Sure enough, those elements lit up, a good sign, as each element goes for $30.15.

Now to work on the remaining three switches.

Boom! (not literally). Everyone is working, except the elements on switch 2.

I’ll return with some tools and a can of deox-it and clean that switch, and may as well do the others while I’m at it.

My artist wife noted that she is very careful with the switches, and never turns them past high. Indeed all of the recent firings have been bisque or cone 2, so those knobs never saw 5, 6, or high settings. This means the contacts never got cleaned by switch action, and that coupled with the dusty environ left them pretty crunchy.  That’s my theory, anyway. Gotta work those switches.

Funny, it was almost 6 years ago exactly the last time this fella misbehaved.


Life Goals

“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. . . . If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time.” —Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 1966

Can you canoe?

So last night was “Date Night” on the Chattahoochee River, and the aptly named Chattahoochee Nature Center.  Participants have to be at least 21, but I’m not sure why that is. No drinking is allowed, and clothing is required. I guess it keeps frisky 19-year-olds away.

So here we are picking out the canoes. One of our guides said we would only use the Old Town models, as the Mad Rivers seemed to be made of recycled stone.

So with that, and the quick canoeing 101 talk, we were on our way.

That’s ‘our” boat in the foreground, with the other guide about to haul it into the water (stern first), where we would then scramble in and paddle in reverse into the river.

We paddled, the 14 of us, 1 mile downstream, and took a slightly different path for part of the return trip.

The light was incredible, but I took no pics after getting under way. I still have yet to recover my sea legs, and taking my phone out of the red zip-lock bag decorated with holiday decorations, seemed too dicey, particularly in the most photogenic spot. That happened to be where the water depth was 600-700 feet. Other places our hull barely cleared the river bottom, but still, the phone stayed wrapped in candy canes.

Many people on the river, mostly rowing teams with fresh new students being barked at by their coaches in little motorboats running alongside.  One kayaker just hanging at the shore, enjoying the river.

Super calm water, save for the wake and noise from the motorboats and coaches. Everyone managed to stay in their boats while on the river. Yay!

I can see returning here, with our own little boat, with a lunch packed.

Old Atlanta

I found this photo in the GSU Library archives. We used to live here, but much later than September 23, 1951 – when this photo was taken.  The building still exists, last I checked.

I don’t remember a whole lot about this place, except it’s where we decided to get married. That makes it pretty significant, though.

It’s also where “Sharla” lived. I don’t think I ever met “Sharla”, but late on Friday/Saturday nights, a very drunk guy would drive up (!), and from the street, would yell “SHARLA!” over and over.

We don’t live far from here now. It’s an easy walk. Funny how far we’ve gone, but have wound up in about the same place ~30 years later.

Why yes, it is the front panel of a Yaesu FT-2400

The memory battery, behind the white circle, was dead. I replaced it, so now the radio can return to the shelf in the bedroom closet for another 25 years.

Problem is, I’m not a Chatty Cathy(TM?) on the radio. I really don’t have much to say. “I’m heading to work now”. “I’m at work now”. “Kind of cloudy”.

I love the technology, but I hate how everything is turn-key now. Just rack up the credit card charges, plug in the matching pieces, and yap away. Being an introvert, the only way I’d babble over the airwaves is if it was on something I cobbled together myself. I’ll even settle for a kit – I’m not that uppity.

I admit, yapping on the FT-2400 would give me a lot of street cred, just by virtue of the age of the thing, but I’m not ready to drill a hole in the roof of Weston (the car) for an ego trip.

Get something new?

I’m really turned off by the proprietary radio schemes out there now. Star-bellied Sneetches and all. Icom camp, or Yaesu? or Kenwood?

Something like 1/2 of the newly licensed radio amateurs never go on the air, according to the ARRL. Small wonder.

Oddly, I keep current on my local club membership. Never been to a meeting. They don’t seem to mind.

So, a 40M radio is in my future. QRP, of course. I mean, I like sailboats and canoes.

I’ve ordered a QRP Labs QCX mono band. It has built-in calibration gizmos, so no scope or other doodads needed – just the usual power supply, antenna, and key, or computer.  Should be here early next year.

So now I have a few months to figure out an antenna and such. Probably stick with JT65, or 9, or whatever.  I’m an introvert, after all.

If I ever do get a new 2M radio, it’ll be something I can use for satellites. A Kenwood 2M/440. – Okay, what’s up with that? Why do we use the wavelength for one band, and the frequency for the next?  Because it’s easier to say than 2M/70CM? or 144/440? Or easier to say, and also a barrier to entry for new people?

Eh, maybe I’ll just stick to the canoe.



Atlanta History Center Folk Festival

Bright and early (8-ish AM) we were unloading our wares at the Atlanta History Center for the 2017 Fall Folk Fest.

24 artists, live music, cooking demonstrations (and samples), and many fascinating people. Being a the History Center, it attracted a lot of history buffs, and being one myself, I had a great time talking to them .

By 4:30 PM we were packing up, pretty tired, but very happy.

Note the Angora goat! They have two.

A lot of people commented on the cotton (it was growing behind our tent), noting it was taller than what they had seen before, and just looked different.  I’ll have to find out about that.

In the main Smith house (vs the kitchen) is a wonderful loom. Woven items from this loom are available in the bookstore at way too cheap prices.



The word of the days, until further notified, is “canoe”.

Shallow draft, go places where “greater” boats can’t. Human powered (always a good thing), and fairly quiet. What’s not to like?

I’m thinking this one by Chesapeake Light Craft:

It won’t fit in the elevator once finished, so I will have build/store it off-site. Not much in the way of lakes around here anyway.

I have to save my pennies for this, so don’t hold your breath. It will be a Spring, 2018 build, if things go as planned, and they rarely do.

I don’t have an axe to grind

The Small Forest Axe arrived today, sharp as can be.  I got it from Rivendell Bikes, because that’s the kind of bike company they are.

Now I just need a small forest.  Well, we do have a 1/4 acre lot with lots of trees. This will be good for trimming branches from fallen trees, not so good for felling trees.