Sunday, September 12, 2010

Altered Book -- What's Your Word?

I'm in the middle of an altered book swap with a group of friends. Each person started with a book, either a regular book or a blank book, and picked a theme. The idea is that over the next 12 months, each of us will get a turn with her book, and will decorate a two-page spread using their interpretation of the theme. I chose a little cookbook, and the theme is "Memorable Meals." I'm hoping each person will tell a story about a memorable meal, whether it was memorable because of the food, the location, or the people you were with.

I recently worked on a friend's book whose theme was "Words." We were to pick a word that has real meaning to us. Well, so far, the artists have picked nice, touchy-feely words like "tranquility." I went in another direction. I chose the word "metal." I like to try many kinds of art and techniques, such as painting, collage, assemblage. Sometimes I need to remind myself to get back to my original love, and that's making jewelry with metal. I love bending and twisting wire. I love hammering, etching, and folding metal sheet. So I chose metal as my word.

I used silver duct tape that I textured with a stylus, then lightly covered with blue and black paint. I also used that tape to cut out the letters for "metal."

As a little gift for the book owner, I made a copper charm with her daughter's name on it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

July Travel Log -- Rabun County, Georgia

Last year we took a driving trip with the goal of staying at The Dillard House. Dillard is a city at the far northeast corner of Georgia, right at the border of North Carolina. We had visited this area almost 20 years ago and eaten at The Dillard House for one of their famous family-style meals. Family-style is where you don't really order anything, they just start putting down platters and platters of food. For dinner, we had fried chicken, ham, potatos, fresh biscuits, green beans, and about a dozen other things. For breakfast, you've got to try the homemade donuts and the peach turnovers. We realized last year that 1) the food was still amazing, but 2) we didn't have to actually stay there to enjoy the great food. The accomodations are a bit pricey. But last year, we really loved the whole Rabun County area, so we visited again.

This time, we stayed down the road in Tiger, pop. 189. We found a great group of cabins, called The Tiger Creek Falls Inn. We stayed in Cabin #8, which was more like a 2 bedroom/2 bath condo. Not rustic at all. You could walk down a path or down stairs to get to the creek. The creek was private and refreshing. We relaxed in the water after a long day hiking. That's our new favorite place, and hopefully we'll make it back there next summer.

We liked the Town of Clayton, with its main street. There's a great independent book store and a folk art gallery that we love. We also went through their small history museum, which is always fun to do when you're visiting a new town.

While in Rabun, we visited the Tallulah Gorge. You can hike down to the bottom of this gorge, by walking through the woods and walking down 560 steps. We did it last year, and the kids decided once wasn't enough, and they wanted to do more. My son discovered that if you get there at 8 in the morning, they give out passes to the first 100 hikers to go all the way to a sliding rock. So -- after you do the 560 steps, and did I mention you cross a suspension bridge, 1000 freet up from the floor of the gorge?, then you can be part of the 100 who get to cross boulders and go over steep terrain for another 3/4 mile to reach a sliding rock. And when I say "cross boulders," I mean you have to jump across some pretty wide stretches. Easy for my monkey children, kind of scarey for me. I soon realized that if my son went first then turned around and held his hand out to me, it was easier. I just needed that hand to jump to, and it gave me more confidence. This photo is at the very beginning, which was some of the widest areas we had to jump across.

Here we are on a rather steep spot. I'm holding on for dear life, and my daughter is climbing way out of range.

We reached the sliding rock, all hot and sweaty. It was such a sense of accomplishment. At this point we're not thinking of the boulders we have to cross again, the 560 steps we have to take UP, and the suspension bridge we have to go across again.

I slid down the rock once, in my clothes, then spent the next 2 hours trying to dry off. My kids did it about 30 times, each time getting braver and crazier. It's a bit scarey how the water pushes you down. But after a few times, my daughter was standing, dancing, and high-fiving people as she went down.

This is the water you get dropped into. Isn't it beautiful? I could have stayed there all day, if we had thought to bring a lunch. We brought lots of water for the hike and a few snacks. Unfortunately, on our hike back up, we lost a water bottle as it rolled down the steep side into a waterfall. We were pretty darn thirsty after we went up the 560 steps. It felt good to say we did it, and we had loads of fun. But I may put this in the category of done it once -- don't need to do it again.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

July Travel Log -- New River Gorge, West Virginia

I've posted southeast vacation photos from Savannah and Asheville stops. From Asheville we drove to the New River Gorge area in West Virginia. The New River Gorge is very deep, and very long. It has a huge bridge that crosses it.

We stayed in a cabin, rather rustic, and we met friends from Ohio who stayed in their RV.

This was the view to the side of our cabin. We hiked the trails for miles through the woods. We couldn't stop the kids from climbing down to the water. The signs read "No Swimming," but they swore they hadn't despite coming back soaked. Slipping off rocks and stepping through the creek doesn't count as swimming. It took a week for my daughter's shoes to get dry, a week until we were at a more civilized hotel that had a washer/dryer.

The creek below the cabin had an old mill. The creek was filled with boulders that the kids loved to climb. The water level was low this time of year, but we saw photos where the water went all the way up to the bridge.

Our big event at the gorge was an all-day white water rafting on the upper New River. We used Class VI River Runners, and didn't regret it one bit. Our party was made up of six adults and four kids. We used "duckies," which are inflatable kayaks. Three of the kids were in double duckies with a parent. We had one guide in a single duckie and another in a big raft that he sat high in and rowed. The big raft is what you traditionally see when 8 people go rafting with a guide. We started around 10:00 and didn't get off the water until 6:00. We went about six miles, going through rapids up to Class III, and stopping a few times to swim. The most unexpected fun was the lunch. We stopped at a rocky beach where we could hike to a waterfall. When we got back, the two guides had put out the best lunch spread I've ever seen. Now, we had played hard and anything probably would have been good. But this truly was good, family picnic food: cold cuts, tuna salad, pasta salad, fruit, and banana pudding. Banana pudding out in the middle of a river! That was heaven.

I took my daughter in the double ducky. Here I am desperately trying to keep her in the raft, and safe. And here she is, having the time of her life, with not a care in the world. She truly is fearless. Click on the photo to see a larger view.

I'll be posting one more leg of our trip -- the Rabun County, Georgia area. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

See the USA

I recently was challenged to make an ATC with an Americana theme. Everyone in the group did these patriotic, red white and blue cards. I went a little different route, I guess because I had just gotten back from our big road trip through the southeast. I was thinking of Americana as the Great American Roadtrip. What could be more American than that? I scrapped together map pages, old bus tickets and schedules, then stamped "See the USA." The string was added to give it a feeling of the roads on the map.