Now and then

When I worked in Huntsville, Al, I occasionally had to fly on business. That almost always meant flying out of the Huntsville airport to Atlanta. I usually tried to get an aisle seat, but on the short flight to Atlanta I liked to sit by a window and stare down at the passing scenery, since we flew over northwest Georgia where we live.

On one such flight I noticed a distinctive mountain formation. There were two ridges that formed an almost completely enclosed valley, and in the middle of the valley there was an oval mountain. I thought that was odd, because it looked so much like the ridges that form Big Texas Valley and Little Texas Valley. I thought that type of formation couldn’t be all that common in northwest Georgia. And then I realized that it actually was our mountains. I looked more carefully and actually saw our house. This image is from Google Earth. When zoomed, out house is very obvious because of the light blue roof.

texas valley

Lavender Mountain, our mountain, forms the southern boundary of Little Texas Valley. Simms Mountain forms the northern boundary of Big Texas Valley. Rocky Mountain sits in the middle, separating the two valleys (which I usually just lump together as Texas Valley). Lavender Mountain has a fishhook extension that turns north towards Simms Mountain and almost closes the gap. A separate mountain extends along the main ridge of Lavender Mountain. That’s Turnip Mountain.

There is another pocket formed by a fishhook mountain near us actually named The Pocket. Here is another Google Earth view.

the pocket

It turns out that this sort of formation is not uncommon in the Valley and Ridge province of northwest Georgia where we live. This region was formed by folding of strata, with the erosion-resistant sandstone forming ridges and the more-easily-eroded limestone forming the valleys. If you think about an irregularly folded sheet, it’s not hard to imagine how pockets and gaps could form.

Not far from The Pocket there is a little community my father told me about. He said that many years ago when the community was looking for a name for itself, they asked a local doctor to name it, with the provision that he not name it after himself. So Dr. Underwood named it Subligna.

Topo maps often show a lot of towns that don’t exist any more. In the days prior to automobiles and good roads, there were lots of small towns and communities with their own business districts and their own, distinct personalities serving people who didn’t have time for a long trip by wagon to a bigger town. When the automobile became common, most of them disappeared as actual towns. It’s hard to imagine how isolated people were 100 years ago if they didn’t live in a big city, and even Rome didn’t qualify as a big city.

Armuchee, a few miles north of Rome on the way to The Pocket, had its own post office, businesses and a railroad line to connect it with Rome. Maps show a community named Fouche in Big Texas Valley, which had a post office. There was a community named Lavender somewhere on the southern edge of Lavender Mountain that also had a post office and railroad service to connect it with the big city of Rome. Some of Armuchee’s buildings still exist, but today the name just refers to an area with indistinct boundaries miles away from “downtown Armuchee”.

I don’t know whether Lavender ever had its own businesses or even a building for its stop, but as far as I can tell, nothing exists to mark it other than an abandoned railroad right of way.

In searching around for information on our area, I also found the nearby communities of Poetry and Sprite. Like Lavender and Fouche, both of these exist today only as names on topographic maps, or maybe in the memory of someone older than me.


Scott has been having problems commenting on this blog. I’m not sure what might be going on. I successfully commented here without logging in, but I’m not sure that necessarily proves anything. Has anyone else had problems?

A breath of fresh air

It has been humid and yet oxymoronically dry here for the last few weeks. It goes without saying that July in Georgia is hot. We saw the stories about the incursion of cool, northern air into the United States all over the national news for the last few days, but we wondered if it would mean anything for us.

Late Tuesday afternoon the dark clouds gathered and it began to thunder somewhere on the other side of the mountain.

threatening skies

Ragged clouds scudded across the sky.

dark clouds

And then it began to rain.

A tenth of an inch later, it was over.

We looked at the weather radar and figured that it was all hype, as usual. Later Tuesday night we got another third of an inch, so we totaled nearly a half an inch. It’s not much, but we’ll take it.

Wednesday morning dawned cool and clear. The rain failed to show, but the cold front was real, and it was here. The sky was dark blue with a few fair-weather cumulus clouds, the temperature was in the low 60s and the humidity had been chased south. The atmosphere had been stagnant, humid, filled with dust, smoke and chemicals that the sunlight and humidity turned into haze. It was not serious, just the usual summer conditions. The air the cold front brought in was fresh and still clean and clear enough that Kennesaw Mountain, probably 45 to 50 miles to the southeast of us, was visible on the horizon.

There it is, Kennesaw Mountain, right under the arrow

There it is, Kennesaw Mountain, right under the arrow

It felt great on the morning dog walk. In fact, I was just a little cool when I started out. We walked down into Texas Valley, which is the shady side of the mountain. I eventually warmed up enough to break a sweat, but it was nothing like Tuesday morning, when I got back home and had to change my shirt because it was so sweaty.

It was a little bit of fall in the middle of July. It won’t last long. The air might be from Canada, but the sun is still all Georgia. We’ll enjoy it while it lasts. It’s supposed to be even cooler Wednesday night.

New on the fox front

I wonder if a fox’s sense of humor is like a dog’s. This makes me think it is.

poop in a cup

This is what I think is fox poop deposited in what looks like the plastic top of a soft drink cup from a convenience store. It looks like the fox did it on purpose. I guess this kind of behavior is not uncommon, at least for our foxes. We see this kind of poop all over the mountain, including on our driveway. It’s finger sized, dark and full of seeds. It looks like what I have seen foxes leave on our driveway in the past.

Although we see the droppings regularly, we don’t see the foxes like we used to. I don’t think I’ve actually seen a fox since they left the immediate vicinity during the road resurfacing nearby, last fall.

You may remember the female fox with a bad front leg. I was pleased to hear from our petsitter after we came home from Savannah at the end of June that she had seen a fox with a severe limp. I assumed it had not made it; after all, how likely is it that a three-legged fox could survive in the wild for an extended period of time? Apparently either it’s not as severe a handicap as it seems, or this fox is particularly resourceful. Either way, it’s encouraging.

An afternoon on the deck

One of the reasons Leah and I are talking about moving is that our house requires a lot of maintenance, and I can’t see myself doing it indefinitely.

We have two decks in the back that are about 10 by 30 feet, and a front walk constructed like a deck that is about 25 feet long. They are seriously weathered and I am currently in the process of re-staining them. I bought a gallon of gray for the decking and a gallon of white for the railings. The salesman said a gallon should cover about 300 square feet. I knew I would need more of both, but it’s not going as far as I thought. I have just now run out of the white stain and am about two-thirds finished with the railings on the front walk.

It seems to go on forever

It seems to go on forever

The front walk slopes up so it’s about seven or eight feet off the ground at the front porch. That means I need a ladder to reach the outside part of the railing. The floor of the upper back deck is about 13 feet off the ground at the highest end. I’ll need an extension ladder to reach it. This does not make me happy. The last time I did any staining of the back deck, I fell off the ladder and tore my rotator cuff, an injury that required surgery.

The other part of this task that I don’t like is that each side of every baluster has to be stained individually, and there are a lot of balusters on our decks. That makes it a tedious, repetitious job. On the back deck I’m going to have to do the outside parts on a high ladder, which will be tedious, repetitious and potentially dangerous. So to do the whole deck, I’m going to have to lie on my back, crawl around on my knees, stoop, stand, reach, climb and descend. I will have to swap between brush and roller, and when I’m doing the outside of the railing I’ll have to do that on a ladder.

Painting the roof overhang would be even worse. Not only is it higher, but I decided to go for the farmhouse look, so there are no soffits to enclose the rafter ends. That means a lot of detail painting, done from a high extension ladder. We hope to have moved before that’s necessary.

I mentioned that we will probably make an offer on some land just down the street from us. Based on that possibility, I have been thinking of what a house would look like there. Unfortunately, the lot slopes, so a house will almost certainly have to have a daylight basement, and that means parts of the house would be two stories above ground. We also like decks, so they will be high off the ground, too. I don’t want to have to do this kind of maintenance 10 years from now, so if we get the property, whatever kind of house we build, it’s going to have to be different from this house and its decks.

This is going to take some thinking.