It could be a lot worse, and it hasn’t been that long, but I’m ready for the smoke to move on.


But in the meantime, we are looking forward to having Jenna home in a little over a week for Thanksgiving. She’s bringing two friends with her. Lauren has just two Tuesdays left of class this semester. Since her teacher is leaving the country after Thanksgiving, she gets a rather lengthy (7 week) Christmas break. There are some assignments that need to be completed over the break, but that’s a long time. She can, however, spend those extra hours on scholarship applications!

Rebekah doesn’t finish until December 13, and Jenna finishes around then too. I’ll be back on the 16th. Then the younger girls and I start back on January 10, and Jenna goes back on January 15. Everyone is ready for the break!

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Fires and a Little Fun

There are numerous wildfires burning in our neck of the woods. It’s been almost 80 days since we’ve had any significant rain, and for a region that averages 5-6 inches per month, that’s a long time with no rainfall. So far over 16,000 acres of forest have been burned, and the beautiful Joyce Kilmer Forest is in danger of being destroyed. This picture is several years old, but that’s still a big tree!


Our little valley has been full of smoke all day as is every other place you drive in the county. There have been evacuations, but not near us. And considering it seems that someone is setting these fires, it’s a scary thought that our hill could be next, though they seem to be starting in pretty rough terrain—which makes it much more difficult for firefighters to get to.


That large fire to the NW of Franklin has encompassed the fire tower at Wesser Bald, which has given us views like the picture below. Wondering what of all that is left and if the fire tower itself (above the tree line) survived.


Driving back from Bryson City last night (more details below), we got a good glimpse of one of the fires that was burning the side of the mountain along US 74. Very scary and disheartening.

We went to Bryson City to ride the Polar Express. The main Santa on the Polar Express (the Smokey Mountain Railroad that runs from Bryson City to Whittier) goes to our church. Last night they were having a dress rehearsal, and people involved in the train could invite friends and family to ride for free. They play music from the movie, serve hot chocolate, sing, dance, and then Santa gets on the train and passes out bells to everyone. Fun time.

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Company, Color, Costumes

We had a great visit with John and Kim a couple of weeks ago. In the process, we also saw some nice color, though the peak was after they left.

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Lauren’s in the process of applying to Covenant, and we should get their offer by the middle of December.

A girl in our church decorates her house for Halloween every year in some book theme and then does a fun little “play.” The youth group is usually involved in decorating and acting. This year’s version was C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair. Rebekah was a giant (she had stilts), and Lauren was Puddleglum (the main tour guide).

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And just like that October is over. Which means we’ll get to see Jenna in about three weeks!

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Lauren has been accepted to her first college: Mississippi College. She’s also been invited back to interview for scholarships around the 1st of the year. We are going back to Covenant next Friday for another visit and to talk about money with them. Still trying to decide where else to visit/apply.

There was ice on the windshield this morning. A little earlier than usual. But it’s supposed to warm back up the end of the week.

And we are looking forward to John’s and Kim’s visit next week after their trip to DC. Dana and I are doing to Atlanta on Friday to celebrate my birthday.

And after being closed for two weeks, the pool is back open with the dome on. The water was still cold this morning!

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Cool Morning of Work

Unlike last year, this year’s weather for the Folk School was wonderful. This morning started at 40°, so our early morning shift of volunteering at the ticket both for free admission and lunch was a little cool


but it was definitely worth it for the $18 saved in admission and the $28 worthy of BBQ lunch.

The problem with the Folk School and seeing all the crafts there is there are way too many hobbies I would like to start.

After spending most of the day there, we went to a birthday party for one of Rebekah’s and Lauren’s friends at Fire’s Creek. This is as close as I’ve gotten to water this week as the pool is closed as they put the dome up for winter.


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Full Tanks—For Now

Both of our cars have full tanks, but whether we’ll be able to fill them up again anytime soon is up for debate. Every gas station between here and church, except one, was out of gas by the time we came home (and that one had a line of cars). And I’ve read that most of the stations in Murphy are also out of gas. Hopefully, it is a short-lived problem, but I would hate to be on vacation right now in the SE.

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A Little Spicy Update

School has been the norm over the last few weeks. We are 1/3 of the way through with the semester already (at least Lauren and I—Rebekah’s class is taking a couple of breaks along the way).

It has been unseasonably warm for this time of year—92° yesterday—and dry. While the mornings have cooled off, several in the 50s as of late, the days have not. As I usually swim in the mornings, the pool has cooled off noticeably in the last couple of weeks. They will put the dome up in a couple of weeks.

The garden is still putting out copious amounts of cherry tomatoes—hundreds actually, and green beans and okra. And while we ate no tomatoes tonight, we did enjoy stuffed jalapeños and peach jalapeño salsa. Good and spicy!


We think Lauren is about to start giving piano lessons. She has a potential student, and we’re trying to nail down days and times in the midst of a busy senior year. Speaking of which, we hope to have our first graduation meeting soon with the parents of the other kids who are graduating this year. It looks like Lauren will be one of ten homeschoolers from our community who will graduate this year. And hopefully we will have a date sooner than later, though coordinating with 9 families’ schedules (one family has twins) will probably be difficult.

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