Blue Ridge holiday 2

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The raccoon I told you about is slyer than a fox. The second night Dennis replaced the Krispy Kreme donut with a can of cat food. The following morning, there was no activity at the trap. The raccoon relocation program had lost another round.

Dennis, the official trapper for the Cowanegobu raccoon relocation society,  baiting the raccoon trap with cat food.
Dennis, the official trapper for the Cowanegobu raccoon relocation society, baiting the raccoon trap with cat food.

The last night we were there, the cat food not only disappeared, but the can itself migrated to the porch. The trap remained untripped, and the only creatures in sight were chipmunks. Dennis blamed them, and named their leader Alvin, of course. I proposed the trio get named Chip, Dip and Trip (I, II, and III). No one seemed interested.

The two surviving muscovy ducks swimming in Blind Weasel Pond. One of the ducks is named Precious, after the main character in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_No._1_Ladies%27_Detective_Agency. I forgot the other duck's name.
The two surviving muscovy ducks swimming in Blind Weasel Pond. One of the ducks is named Precious, after the main character in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I forgot the other duck's name.

We speculated that the chipmunks pulled a Tom Cruise, navigating by hanging from the roof of the trap. Dennis did find a tuft of fur on the porch steps. Raccoon, he declared. I asked if he was going to have the fur sample DNA tested. No, he was going to check with Nathan, who seems to help the Merediths navigate their way through country living. Joni says Nathan knows everything there is to know, from how to fix a car to how to plant a tree. Nathan hasn’t started college yet, but he knows all the important stuff.

The house that Joni built, and the pickup truck.
The house that Joni built, and the pickup truck.

Several other vehicles help the Merediths navigate their way through country living. First, there is the Toyota pickup, which allows them to look like everyone else. Then there is the ride lawnmower, which Joni nearly crashed.

This thing can go up incredible inclines and totter around bumpy, tight turns without tipping.
This thing can go up incredible inclines and totter around bumpy, tight turns without tipping.

And then there is the Club Car, which allows them to ride over rough terrain, balancing on one wheel when the going gets really rough. After we dipped to the right at a 45 degree angle, with one wheel up in the air, I began walking.

The sign, still in progress, for Blind Weasel Pond, named after a dog of course.
The sign, still in progress, for Blind Weasel Pond, named after a dog of course.

They haven’t named the club car yet, but Joni and Dennis name everything they can, for their amusement. The cabin is named Cowanegobu, and has a whole mythology/cosmology that Dennis created to go along with the name.  The pond is the Blind Weasel Pond, named after a dog.

Dennis stands on the Meredith Joanne Hunter Bridge.
Dennis stands on the Meredith Joanne Hunter Bridge.

And the foot bridge over a stream is the Meredith Joanne Hunter Bridge, so named by their granddaughter, Meredith Joanne Hunter, who also painted the sign. Dennis, who used to be at Duke where he was the Director of Research Communication, named himself the DORC of Duke.

Murray and Dennis planting Murray. Look for an oak in a few years.
Murray and Dennis planting Murray. Look for an oak in a few years.

We all went out to plant a couple of oak tree babies that Joni had bought. One sapling is named Murray, the other,  Libby. Nathan showed Joni how to plant the trees and cage them to protect them from deer.

Murray, the wind and solar power rep, Dennis and a neighbor talk about alternate power possibilities.
Murray (left), Dennis (red cap) and a neighbor (light blue shirt) talk about alternate power possibilities with a rep from http://www.sundancepower.com/.

Joni is a special sort of collector. She collects the usual sorts of things–like quilts and kachinas and masks and tools like the router she uses to make the signs–but she also collects information, skills and people. It’s the people part where Nathan fits in. But he’s one of many local people who she has befriended and learned from. She loves how people think and how they get things done, the quirkier the better. Right now, as president of the publishing company she and Dennis formed and incorporated,  she is figuring out how to market Dennis’ upcoming book aimed at scientists, who  need to explain their work to non-scientists. The book, Explaining Research (you can order it here), is due out in the fall from Oxford University Press.  (The book outgrew the ability of the Meredith in-house publisher, Glyphus, to put it out; but watch out for the sequel and the spin-offs. They may just be gleams in Joni’s eye, for now, but not for long, I’ll bet).

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libby's trip to kentucky and north carolina

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