In late July my two younger sons (13 and 11) and I drove across the southeastern U.S. to be with my husband and daughter for my husband's last week of study leave (although not much studying took place that last week). This makes twice this summer I have driven by myself with the kids across the southeast, and four total trips when you add in the return journey. Pshew!!
This was the first time the two youngers and I had done anything like this, but for the most part the journey went remarkably well. On the way we spent one night at a hotel in Memphis, one night at my brother's home in East Tennessee, and on the third day we drove into Asheville, N.C., where my husband was house-sitting for a friend. The house was right in town, so it was a very convenient location, and my husband had almost made himself a regular at a neighborhood diner in three short weeks.
Asheville is in such a beautiful location in the mountains of western North Carolina, only an hour and a half or so from where I grew up. I love, love, love those mountains so green. Asheville is very, very artsy and self-consciously diverse. Think Austin, if you're in Texas. The downside to that is there is lots of occult and new-agey stuff going on, and everyone's opinions are in your face. The plus side is all the emphasis on craft, from foods to beers to textiles to pottery to art to music. Part of this is that the southern Appalachian area, for all its reputation as backward, has also been a hotbed of creativity. Perhaps this is because people had to make do with what they had versus buying the latest and greatest; I don't know. I do know I grew up in an area where lots of people made things. And all the variety of expression is a breath of fresh air compared to all the architectural and stylistic homogeneity of much of anything new where I live in Texas.
(Disclaimer: all the pictures in this post were taken by my husband, not me.)
These gorgeous beehives were in a backyard garden that was visible from a street bridge near the diner my husband frequented.
Hofman Studios, where we admired Michael Hofman's beautiful porcelain wares. Much of it is imprinted with vintage lace patterns. I had to exercise great self-control not to run my hands over each piece in his gallery (although actually Mr. Hofman encouraged handling, to show how durable the porcelain is). The art there just seems more accessible. By that I mean it makes me feel like I want to get in there and make stuff, too.
I wasn't the only one that felt that way. So did my husband. He met two artists at Broken Road Studio, Stephen St. Claire and Phil DeAngelo. They both do fantastic work, and they graciously invited my husband to come and paint with them. I brought a painting from Texas that he had been working on before he left, and he took it down to the studio, where Phil gave him some pointers.
Here's the painting as it is now: