Tag Archives: North Carolina

Farmer’s Market

Flower Vendors at the Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market in Charlotte, NC
Flower Vendors at the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market in Charlotte, NC

Kathy & I visited the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning – specifically  the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market – with friends John & Marcia.  Amazingly, for all our interest in fresh, local food, we had never visited before.  John & Marcia are veterans and showed us around, then we explored for a little while on our own.

Flower Vendors at the Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market in Charlotte, NC
Flower Vendors at the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market in Charlotte, NC

I had conversations with a number of vendors about their products.  One guy was selling honey, and had samples taken at different times of the year.  It was amazing to taste the differences between them.

The produce was amazing.  There were vegetables I had never seen or even heard of before.  But all I had to do was ask, and I found out not only what it was, but how to cook it and when to buy it.

There is a group of Korean folks who sell flowers all over  town.  They operate a number of stands and frequent many of the festivals and markets, selling beautiful bunches of flowers for $10 each.  They had several stands at the farmer’s market.  It was fun to watch them as they assembled the bouquets from the pails full of flowers they had on hand.  They talked and joked and generally seemed to be having a good time.

Flower Vendors at the Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market in Charlotte, NC
Flower Vendors at the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market in Charlotte, NC

Kathy & I stuck to the basics and brought home a few veggies and some peaches.  It was the first batch of peaches of the year, and they aren’t quite at their prime.  But it is still great to get fresh peaches, and we’ll be back for more.

Flower Vendors at the Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market in Charlotte, NC
Flower Vendors at the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market in Charlotte, NC

The kitchen in our apartment is a little small to do a lot of prep work in, but we’re getting by.  We bought some things to get us through the week.  One of the things we are looking forward to in our new place is a kitchen big enough to have plenty of room to work.  Then we can become farmer’s market aficionados, too.

"Trying to Escape"
“Trying to Escape”

Footloose and Fancy Free

Motion blur at sunset in Belhaven, North Carolina
Motion blur at sunset in Belhaven, North Carolina

I was originally going to title this post “Take the Money and Run,” but when I thought about what I really wanted to say, I realized I was wanting to talk more about the present and the future than revisiting the past.  I mentioned in an earlier post about the fact that we had sold our house, were sweating out the due diligence process and had been waiting – somewhat impatiently – to get the green light to move, and eventually to actually close the sale.  Well, that’s all done now.  We sent about half of our stuff to storage on May 22, moved the important stuff – cameras, computers, the bed and a little bit of furniture 🙂 – into an apartment on May 23, spent the 23rd and 24th unpacking most of what we brought, then immediately headed off to Belhaven, our favorite little town on the coast, for Memorial Day weekend.  We then spent evenings this past week and this just-past weekend getting the rest of the odds and ends squared away.  I got my printer hooked up and working this morning – it fortunately seems to have survived the move with no ill effects.  I have some pictures to hang, but that will be about it.

We closed the sale on the 30th, so now we are houseless, but not homeless.  We had lived in our house for 17 years.  That’s an eternity for some people, and is the longest we have ever lived in one place.  And we haven’t lived in an apartment since 1984.  I think one of the lessons learned from the selling and moving process is that that is way too long to stay in one place.  Not that there is anything wrong with it, but you tend to accumulate a lot of stuff, and the older a house gets the more money it takes to keep it up.  And that’s money that I would rather spend on things other than house maintenance.

Plasterwork on a building in Washington, North Carolina
Plasterwork on a building in Washington, North Carolina

Our current plan is to move into a new condo early this fall.  It is currently in the very early construction stages – as in there isn’t even a road to it yet.  But we visited the site this morning, and there are curbs now where there was just a hint of road only a week ago.  The lot is graded and staked out, so we’re thinking that as soon as the road is paved we’ll start seeing forms go up for the footers.  That’s pretty exciting – building our own place from the ground up.  We’re not physically building it of course, but we picked the floor plan, chose the options and got to put our “signature” on it.  All very exciting.

In the mean time, what to do?  We think we’re going to like this little break quite a bit.  A few months where the only things we need to think about are the necessities.  Sure, we need to get up and go to work every day.  We need to plan meals and get our exercise.  But other than that?  No boxes, no inspections and no appraisals.  Almost worry free!  Most everyone we know tells us that we’ll get tired of apartment living very quickly, and that we won’t be able to wait to get into our condo.  But I don’t know.  Part of us thinks we could get used to the “footloose and fancy free” lifestyle for a few years, maybe longer.  Who says we need to own a house?  Only the people who have a vested interest in selling us one!  Throwing my money away on rent?  How about throwing it away on interest instead?  Take your pick and pay The Man.  Conventional wisdom isn’t necessarily conventional or wise, I say.

Peeling paint on a building in Washington, North Carolina
Peeling paint on a building in Washington, North Carolina

We have every intention of going through with the condo purchase as planned.  But we’re going to use this little bit of free time to consider all of our options.  And that includes deciding whether or not we want to be tied to owning a house that we have to sell again, or if we just like the idea of giving 60 days notice, loading up the truck and moving somewhere else.  There’s a certain appeal to that idea that tells me that I shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand.  So we’ll see.

Brick wall, Washington, North Carolina
Brick wall, Washington, North Carolina

So what does all of this have to do with photography?  Probably not a whole lot, except that for the next few months I expect to have a lot more time to spend wandering around with my camera.  And I plan to have plenty of time to start writing for my blog again.  And we’ll probably travel a little bit, maybe a lot.  And that sounds like something that I can really look forward to.

Wells Fargo, Washington, North Carolina
Wells Fargo, Washington, North Carolina

Still Here

Wandering around downtown Waynesville, NC on a weekend perfect for a wanton disregard of critical obligations.
Wandering around downtown Waynesville, NC on a weekend perfect for a wanton disregard of critical obligations.

I thought I had better post a few words and some pictures just to prove that I am still alive and kicking.  Things have been a little hectic lately around The House of Dills.

After about 5 years of preparations, Kathy & I decided in February that this seemed like the right time to put our house on the market.  We began working with a Realtor to get things finalized so we would be ready for the spring sales market, which we expected would be a good one.  It’s amazing how much there is to do to a house to get it ready to sell – things you haven’t thought about or had just put off because you just hadn’t gotten around to it.  Despite having been “getting ready” for the last couple of years, there was still a last-minute rush to get things done.

Wandering around downtown Waynesville, NC on a weekend perfect for a wanton disregard of critical obligations.
Wandering around downtown Waynesville, NC on a weekend perfect for a wanton disregard of critical obligations.

In true Tom & Kathy fashion, we did the sensible thing and immediately headed out of town for a quick rest-up before we got started.  That was the weekend in February when we headed to Charleston, SC.  When we returned, we dove head-first into a 6-week period of repairs, staging and primping.  I also took photos for the listing, which I’ll probably share in another post.  By the end of March, we were ready.

Wandering around downtown Waynesville, NC on a weekend perfect for a wanton disregard of critical obligations.
Wandering around downtown Waynesville, NC on a weekend perfect for a wanton disregard of critical obligations.

Kathy & I had decided that we didn’t care to be hanging around the house for the first weekend that the house was on the market, figuring that most of our traffic would come that first weekend and we likely wouldn’t spend much time in the house anyway.  Another excuse to travel!  The listing hit the MLS on a Wednesday, and we immediately started getting calls for showings.  We went to work on Friday packed and ready for a weekend in Waynesville, NC, one of our favorite weekend getaway destinations.  By the time we were ready to come home on Sunday, our Realtor called to tell us that we had “multiple offers.”  Amazing.

So we came home, settled on the offer that looked the best and seemed like it would have the best chance of closing, and signed.  Now we’re waiting.  In NC the buyers have a period of time – the Due Diligence period – when they can pretty much just change their minds and walk with minimal consequence, and that period expires next week.  We have every indication that the buyers really want the house and that we will get through with no issues, but you just can’t be 100% certain.  You really can’t start heavy-duty packing just in case the house has to go back on the market.  In the mean time we have been organizing and getting ready to pack and move, so we’re ready to go once we get the green light that the deal is going to go through.  It’s a frustrating process, but one that I suppose will benefit us when we decide it is time to buy.

Wandering around downtown Waynesville, NC on a weekend perfect for a wanton disregard of critical obligations.
Wandering around downtown Waynesville, NC on a weekend perfect for a wanton disregard of critical obligations.

Here are a few photos from our weekend to Waynesville.  Just so you’ll know I’m still around and doing a little photography.  We’re planning to move to an apartment on May 23, and we’ve already got plans to head out of town on May 25 for another getaway weekend, so all is good here!

Wandering around downtown Waynesville, NC on a weekend perfect for a wanton disregard of critical obligations.
Wandering around downtown Waynesville, NC on a weekend perfect for a wanton disregard of critical obligations.

May 2013 Wallpaper

Sunset from Waterrock Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Sunset from Waterrock Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

This month’s photo was my second choice for last month’s wallpaper, and I liked it so much I decided to run it for May.  Plus there is an added bonus of getting to tease my friend Kevin W. who made the mistake of telling me that he was homesick for the NC mountains and that my photos made him more so.  Come on back, Kevin!

Amazingly, this photo was taken just 4 1/2 minutes after the photo I used for last month’s calendar.  Looking west from Waterrock Knob, out over Cherokee and the Oconoluftee River toward the crest of the Smokies, this is one of my favorite views.  Not as famous (or as crowded) as some other sunset spots, I like it because I can practically shoot out of my car, and there are facilities nearby!

In the months and years after I took this photo, the view started to get overgrown with trees and brush.  Until the Park Service recently cleared some of the overgrowth, it had gotten to the point that there were very few vantage points for a good sunset view.  I’ve been back a few times recently, but the conditions haven’t been cooperative.  But it’s a place I return to often, and one day I’ll get my next Waterrock Knob sunset.  Maybe soon!

I know I’ve been a little quiet lately, but I’ve got some non-photographic backlog to get through and I’ll be back.  That’s a promise!

Shooting in the Dark

Downtown Davidson, North Carolina under a nearly full moon and some amazing clouds.  5D Mark III w/50mm 1.4.  Hand-held at 1/30 @f1.4, ISO 6400.
Downtown Davidson, North Carolina under a nearly full moon and some amazing clouds.
5D Mark III w/50mm 1.4. Hand-held at 1/30 @f1.4, ISO 6400.

Kathy & I went to Davidson for dinner last night, and decided to get there early to have a little time to walk around town so I took my camera along.  The clouds and moon were quite dramatic, and I thought this was a decent result.  I’m playing with a B&W version but haven’t struck on one I like yet.

Peer Pressure

Winter morning on the Torrence Creek Greenway, Huntersville, North Carolina
Winter morning on the Torrence Creek Greenway, Huntersville, North Carolina

I love mornings, I just wish they didn’t come so darned early!  Especially on weekends, the last thing I want to do is set an alarm.  But I’ve been preaching for years that the landscape photographer’s most important tool is the alarm clock.  Lately, I haven’t been so good about practicing what I preach.  This time of year though, sunrise is late – about 7:30 – so I can actually sleep later than I do during the week and still get up and photograph.  It’s possible, I said!

We got a little bit of ice yesterday.  Hardly anything to get excited about, but with the forecast of clearing skies overnight, I went to bed with visions of sunbeams and dramatic clouds and frozen grass lighting up like diamonds in the morning light.  The possibility of dramatic conditions gave me enough reason to plan to get up.  I should have set my alarm, though, but I didn’t.  So when I woke up at 5:00 I couldn’t go back to sleep because I had sorta committed to getting up.  But I stayed awake, and I got up.

Winter morning on the Torrence Creek Greenway, Huntersville, North Carolina
Winter morning on the Torrence Creek Greenway, Huntersville, North Carolina

I get a lot of inspiration from a small circle of friends who have photo blogs.  Monte Stevens is The Man when it comes to getting up and out for sunrise.  I should do so well.  Usually I don’t, but today I did.  Monte posted the other day about getting up for sunrise, and he, Paul & I had a friendly little exchange about getting up for sunrise, and I kinda sorta committed to getting up this morning.  So I had to, right?

The transition that occurs when I go out with a camera always amazes me.  It really doesn’t matter what the conditions are, there is always something to shoot.  The results aren’t always something I would hang on the wall, and I doubt any of this morning’s photos will be.  But you never know.  And the main thing is, I need to get my sorry self out the door in order to take any pictures.  And if all I accomplish is getting my ass out the door, using the camera and getting a little practice once I do, that is nothing to complain about.  And if I come back with some decent photographs, that’s a bonus!

Winter morning on the Torrence Creek Greenway, Huntersville, North Carolina
Winter morning on the Torrence Creek Greenway, Huntersville, North Carolina

The amazing conditions that I had pictured in my mind’s eye didn’t materialize.  But we did have a little fog, the air was still and it was very quiet – some of my favorite conditions for making photographs.  So I made my way across the icy street and down the frozen steps to the Greenway, taking care to not fall on my butt – or worse, on top of the camera slung over my shoulder.  It was slick, but I had good boots and was careful.

I got out about 7:00, 30 minutes or so before sunrise, and figured on staying out for an hour or so, and that’s about what I did.  I went to a section of the Greenway that would have a good view of the sun if I actually saw it, but it didn’t make an appearance.  And as of 10:00 this morning I’m still waiting.  But I’m back in the house now with my coffee and warm slippers sitting at the computer, so life is good!

But Monte and Paul, I did get out!  And here are the photos to prove it!  Enjoy!

Winter morning on the Torrence Creek Greenway, Huntersville, North Carolina
Winter morning on the Torrence Creek Greenway, Huntersville, North Carolina

Happy 2013!

Evening Light, Corolla
Evening Light, Corolla

Just about the time I figure I’ll stop doing this monthly wallpaper thing, I hear from someone else who really likes it.  So here you go, a start to another year!

This image is from a style of photograph I don’t post very often on the blog, and I’m not sure I’ve ever used one for wallpaper.  But I really like these impressionistic photos, as they often reflect a peace and calm that a “normal” photograph can’t capture.  I recently sold a group of prints that included this photograph, and I liked the print so much I decided I’d like to look at it for a month or so, and hoped that my blog followers would like it too.

For those interested in the technical details, this was shot in 2009 on the beach in Corolla, North Carolina.  And even though I’ve been calling it “Morning Light, Corolla” for a number of years, in looking at the metadata for this blog post I discovered that it was actually taken in the evening.  Oops…I guess I’ll have to start calling it “Evening Light, Corolla!”  It was taken with my lowly Canon 40D with the 24-105 lens at f22 for 1/4 second, panning with the wave movement to give it the blurred effect.

I know I’m looking forward to the new year and can’t wait to make new photographs to share.  Thanks for reading and for all the great comments.  Hopefully I’ll get to meet some of  you in person soon!  Happy travels!

Time for Reflection

Boat Reflections on Far Creek, Englehard, North Carolina

Kathy & I are visiting Belhaven, North Carolina this weekend.  One of our many favorite weekend destinations, Belhaven is ideally situated near a lot of places that I love to photograph.  And this weekend has proven – once again – the advantage of returning time after time to some of the same places.

Boat Reflections near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

The weather has been perfect “Chamber of Commerce” weather.  Clear, blue sky with no clouds to be found anywhere.  Well, there were a few around late this afternoon, but not enough to make a meaningful difference in the weather forecast.  A little tough for photography, but not if you know where to look.  And I had a pretty good idea where to look!

Boat Reflections near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

I love shooting the boats around Swan Quarter and Englehard.  I never get tired of going there, and these are especially good places in the late afternoon on these clear days when I know there will be golden light if I am patient enough.

Once the sun was low enough that the boats were cast in shadow we headed back down the road to Lake Mattamuskeet to see what like of post-sunset color we might find.  We found a little, and it was quite nice.

Cypress Trees at Sunset at Lake Mattamuskeet near Englehard, North Carolina
Cypress Trees at Sunset at Lake Mattamuskeet near Englehard, North Carolina

One of the advantages of an early sunset is a little more time to spend processing photos, so I have broken from my usual routine to process a few photos from this afternoon and get them online the same day.  I’ll have a few more once we get home and I get them processed on my regular computer.

Sunset at Lake Mattamuskeet near Englehard, North Carolina

November Wallpaper Calendar

Sunset from Currituck Heritage Park near Corolla, North Carolina

Here in North Carolina,  we typically still have a lot of fall left in November.  Especially in the lower elevations, there is often a decent amount of color around until Thanksgiving.  Time will tell what the impact of the late-October storm will have on the fall for this year.

This month’s photo returns to the scene of the September calendar – Currituck Heritage Park in Corolla, North Carolina.  In fact, this photo was taken about 35 minutes before the photo of the Whalehead Club that I used for the calendar just a few months ago.  While it was still very warm when I took this photo, the colors are more fall-like.  Winter is on the way though!

An Early Fall Getaway

Morning light and clouds at Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 413

Kathy & I had a last-minute chance to take off to the mountains this past weekend and meet up with some friends.  There are definitely signs of color in some spots, primarily the higher elevations.  We didn’t spend a lot of time photographing, preferring instead to explore the towns of Waynesville and Sylva.  I did manage to crawl out of bed early on Saturday for an attempt at sunrise, but we left with no evidence that the sun had risen other than the fact that the sky got lighter.  We did end up seeing some sun later in the day and on Sunday, but for the most part things were on the cloudy and foggy side.

Like many weekends in the mountains, this was one of widely variable conditions.  We found sun in some spots, were totally socked in with fog in some spots.  We discovered fall color in some places, while in others summer was still holding on tight.  We stopped by a waterfall along one of the side roads and in 15-20 minutes didn’t see a car, while earlier on the Parkway traffic was starting to get busy.

Waterfall on West Fork Pigeon River, Route 215 Lake Logan Road, Pisgah National Forest

I’m still struggling to find my photographic “groove” and I didn’t help myself much this weekend.  I guess I’ve just allowed myself to get out of practice.  It has been a crazy year so I have a good excuse, but it’s frustrating to feel so out of it, creatively.  I’m back on the upswing though, and am confident that I’ll get things back on track over the next month or so.

All in all we had a great weekend.  Good food and good times with friends are tough to top!

City lights of Hendersonville, NC shine through the pre-dawn fog from Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 413.

***

 I love the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it is one of my favorite places to visit any time of the year, especially in the fall.  But more and more I find myself struggling with the sheer number of people that head for the Parkway when the leaves start to peak.  In particular I’m bothered by what appears – to me at least – to be an increase in the irresponsible behavior and lack of respect that some drivers have.  This past weekend I witnessed a number of “bad apple” drivers, in particular motorcycle riders, doing stupid and reckless stunts.  Passing on curves and in no-passing zones, tailgating and intimidating drivers who weren’t going fast enough to suit them.  It really takes away from the peaceful experience that I have always gone to the Parkway for.  I understand that not everyone goes to the Parkway for peace and quiet, but when the antics of a few people manage to wreck the experience it is hard to tolerate.

I had already made plans to experience fall in other places this year, but after this past weekend and some similar experiences last year, I think I’m going to wait until I have time to plan my visits in mid-week to hopefully avoid most of the crazies.  I realize that most drivers and riders are careful and responsible, and that for the most part their biggest offense is making a lot of noise, but I think I’ll wait and head back in November and December, when only the most hardy adventurers are willing to brave the elements.

Morning light and fall color at Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 413

Fall happens everywhere, and I think my goal for this year will be to find Fall in some of the less-discovered places!  We’ve got some interesting adventures coming up, so stop by again soon to see what we’ve been up to.

Morning light and fog at Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 413