Header photo

This header photo is my Christmas/Solstice present to myself - photo by Stacy Redmon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The clouds take over

the mountains, and seep down into the valley.

Swannanoa Valley is the main eastern approach to Asheville, coming from Marion and Old Fort then through Black Mountain.  When you pass over the continental divide, then this is the beginning of the watershed going to the Gulf of Mexico.  This rain has a long way to go.

One little off-shoot of the Swannanoa Valley is maybe called the greybeard approach, or just Montreat.  There's a college campus squeezed in between the flanks of the mountains. Vacation homes perch up on the sides of the slopes, streets wind in switchbacks to reach them.  And when cold weather comes in, it comes down from the north where Mt. Mitchell sits, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

 Before much rain falls, I stopped and captured the pristine beauty of the stream before it tumbles into Montreat proper.

 It quickly goes under a culvert, then heads down the mountain to Lake Susan...quickly moving!
 Montreat College dorms reflect the grey light of today's sky. A lone crow was the only sign of life.


 When spring and summer come, and even autumn, these walks and benches will be filled with people enjoying the little lake.
 But today (Sunday) it's deserted.
 The building with Ten Thousand Villages, an import store, has lights on inside. I wonder if they are open.
Look high above the store and you can see one of the houses built up on the slopes.

I was mainly looking at how the clouds caught on the tops of the mountains and seemed to be snagged there, as if they were in a stream and caught in an eddy.




Saturday, February 16, 2019

Just look what I found!

Goodie goodie...the promise of spring is out there!










Quote for today:
We have thousands of opportunities every day to be grateful: for having good weather, to have slept well last night, to be able to get up, to be healthy, to have enough to eat...There's opportunity upon opportunity to be grateful; that's what life is.
BR. DAVID STEINDL-RAST

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentines Day

Love to all. 
Love to those who think the same way I do.
Love to those who don't think the same way I do.
Love to those who are gentle and loving, who are open minded and caring, who are smiling through difficulties. 
And love (especially) to those who don't love, to those who hate, hurt, and are hurting deep in their hearts.
Love offers the possibility of forgiveness even as punishment is given based on justice.
Yes, Love To All.
Regardless.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sharing some art with you

I went to the reception for the Red House artists' latest show on Friday.
Here are some of the art pieces which I admired...but there's a lot more, not to mention open artist studios every day.

These are ceramic with plastic plants.  And they are priced like collectors art...but I bet they will sell! Lovely!
We had to move my treasure boxes to a lower display, because if they are up at eye level, you can't see the heart shapes of the lids!



Saturday, February 9, 2019

Art is alive and well in Black Mountain

Very small print...Opening Reception Feb 8, 5-7 pm.  I like being a member of this group of artists...and having my work shown in their little gallery.  The Red House a.k.a Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League.  They are located next to the Monte Vista Hotel (which owns the building.) The hotel has a new owner, so I don't know it the Red House will continue to rent the studio/gallery building from them.


The other morning this bank of clouds seemed stuck on the mountains, slowly pouring over the low spot into the valley.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Gustavino from Spain and Black Mountain NC

More about Rafael Gustavino.
Architect.
Resident of Black Mountain.

The Swannanoa Valley History Museum has published an excellent article HERE about his home in Black Mountain, and a bit about the man.  I just learned that when he studied architecture in Spain, he had a classmate named Antonio Gaudi (who is pretty famous in Barcelona.)

I first heard about Gustavino when I went with some other seniors to tour the Basilica of St. Laurence in Asheville NC.  (Basilica web site here.) There is an incredibly large dome over the entire sanctuary, designed by Gustavino, and his unique system of interlocking ceramic tiles.  There are still tours available, but probably need to be scheduled with their office. It is a most enjoyable and educational hour.  The art is definitely worth it.


Calling the Gustavino home a Spanish Castle by the locals, was just probably because of his Spanish heritage.  It certainly is not a home looking as if a Spanish person wanted to emulate his history.  I would guess that it's more to fulfill the wishes of his wife and family.

Here's the earlier photo from the Museum article.
This view shows very well how the lowest level could have been a barn for animals when it was first built.


This postcard shows how the terraced hillside was landscaped at the height of it's beauty.

Another excellent site to look at Here is about Gustavino's life, work, and plans for a Gustavino Museum.

I have yet to do the walking tour to see the kiln which is still standing. But I'll share the SV Museum's photo with you.

Chimney is 60 feet tall for this kiln.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Before it was Christmount, Rhododendron Farms

 1890's Rafael Gustavino purchased 1000 acres of Black Mountain.  He moved here with his wife Fransesca.


 He and his son and grandson used a unique technique of ceramic bricks or tiles to create free standing domes and vaulted ceilings in these buildings across America.

 These are some of the ruins of his farm at the entrance to Christmount Retreat.



The signs neglect to mention that the home burned.



There is a lot more information about Gustavino.  So much that I'll make it a separate post tomorrow.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Happy Imbolc

 The beginnings of spring.  Many years daffodils will not only come up, but bloom, and then freeze with our ongoing seesaw of winter into spring.




The Gustavino mansion ruins at Christmount community in Black Mountain.  More about them, and him soon!



Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The ruins of a mansion

There's a nice little community here with a retreat center, conferences and camps in summertime, and some homes mainly for retired ministers I think...called Christmount.

I went to a party in one of the conference rooms last Saturday.  The only other time I've visited was to enjoy  Sunday brunch which is open to the public in the main dining room...and is quite a good affair of a variety of foods.

But on my way home I stopped to see what has more interest to my "historic places" funny bone.





 In case you're wondering if I stuck my head into the barred opening...and the answer is, no way. A dark space exists, and I love sunshine...and it just felt too spooky.



The Gustavino mansion ruins are right inside the Christmount entrance.  They were completely hidden by growth of native plants for a long time, which have not only been uncovered but have signs talking about the areas you're looking at.  You have to park on the narrow road however.

I'll share a few more pictures of the ruins later.