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Sunday, May 19, 2019

WTF - Call Me SAP

If anyone knows my family, they know the McKeon side of the family is full of saps.

Case in point, my grandmother could never get through a greeting card without wiping away a tear or two. Every family gathering was not dry when my grandmother would ask my father to sing Mother Machree. Especially the time he prefaced it with, "I think this is the first time I ever sang this sober."

I tried to keep it together during my sisters wedding and erupted with a sob because, well, I'm a sap.

Cue now trying to hold it together as my first born gets ready to leave the nest. Sure I'm all confident as the announcements come in and excuse myself to the bathroom. Then the Senior pictures come through and I'll retire to the deck. I tell myself to hold it together but the McKeon comes out every time.

Why am I tearing up as I make them a post prom brunch, what the heck?

When someone asks me where Wolfgang is going to college. I have to gulp first before answering.

Writing out graduation announcements.

Hiding behind Jeff as we take Senior Prom pictures.

Because I still see the little kid that would yell from his room at 4 o'clock in the morning, "Start day!"

The kid who's head was too big so he couldn't balance to walk and scooted across the floor. I'm still amazing we never nicknamed him Scooter.

Waiting on the front porch for the bus to come by.


I said to Jeff the other day, "How am I going to handle this? I'm a McKeon and you know all us Irish are total SAPS! I'm not going to make it through graduation.

"Believe me, you won't be the only one crying," is his reply. He's right, I'll be in good company.

I guess I'll just quietly hold it together, watch them grow wings and hope I did a good job. Then let the McKeon side take over.

Friday, May 17, 2019

WTF - Obsession is that bad?

My children came home from school, checked the mailbox and walked in with a package for me.

"Ah! That's my delivery from Scribe Delivery! My new pens and notebooks!" Disclaimer, most writers are obsessed with pens and notebooks, basically all types of office supplies.

They look at my pile of new notebooks, the pens overflowing the holder, and the box of pens by the side of my "writing chair."

"Mom. we need to talk to you." One child says.

I'm thinking, "OK I've been slacking in the lunch department." or, "I'm still not washing your sheets, that's your job."

"What do we need to talk about?" I ask.

They look at each other, "The newest obsession."

"What are you talking about?" I ask. Me? Obsessed? Maybe a few TV series or a few vampire novels, but I'm not obsessed with anything!

"You're into the pen and notebook obsession," one child says.

"Yeah, this was before the coconut oil obsession," another says.

"What do you mean?" I ask.

They explain to me my cycle. I have the obsession, then I move onto the next thing.

There was the healthy smoothie obsession, where I made morning smoothies of chia seeds, beets, veggies, fruits, vinegar, lemon, turmeric, CBD oil whatever I could find. Oh, and of course the collagen for weight loss and hair growth. That lasted a few months.

Then they mentioned the Raramuri runners obsession after reading Born to Run. I was obsessed with salad for breakfast. They didn't like the waking to a breakfast of Spinach salad with a side of Flax seeds..

One of their friends said, "My Mom was obsessed with making chapstick. I walked into the kitchen at 3am and she was making Chapstick. I said 'What are you doing?' she replied, 'Christmas is 6 months away!"'

They counted off another obsession.

"Remember the I'm going to make my own greeting cards obsession," one asked. "We went to Michaels and you bought about 50 stamps, blank cards and told us it was cheaper to make your own card. How many cards did you make?" I wasn't answering three cards and the ink leaked all over my favorite shirt.

"And the painting obsession?" Another asked. Another Michaels trip buying canvases, 200 dollars worth of paint, then trying my best Bob Ross and realizing I really didn't have the talent.

"We like this obsession now," they both say together.

The latest obsession is born out of having one graduating this year from high school. I went from being lazy and throwing the ham and cheese sandwiches into their lunch to ending the school year strong. Years past they'd find a grape halved for their fruit, a moldy piece of brownie for desert then that damn sandwich.

This year, I'm obsessed with bowls. Putting all my cooking goodness together in one bowl (not mentioning the 3876 dirty pans in the kitchen.) I'm making bowls for dinner, bowls for their lunch. They've had the Asian bowl- teriyaki salmon with coconut rise and sautéed green beans. The Southwestern Bowl - fajita chicken with chili black beans, yellow rise, salsa and sour cream. The Pad Thai bowl of Shrimp, Peppers with egg, pad thai sauce and rice noodles. My most artistic was the sushi bowl-sushi rice, imitation crab, chopped avocado and cucumbers sprinkled with sesame seeds. (I had to steal a few soy packets from the grocery store for that one."

So they are lucky at this obsession, they are eating well and actually looking forward to their lunches on a daily basis. I'm enjoying making the food and feeling the small sense of being in control with all the monumental things happening in my life, one driving, another graduating!

I've been lucky that some obsessions stayed with me, my yoga passion and becoming a teacher. My reading though my husband may differ as he steps over all the books on my reading list. My writing, and you're welcome because you are here reading this. I have been informed by my husband that I cannot have another expensive hobby as I eyed the golf clubs in the Pro Shop of the Beech Mountain Club.

So whatever your obsession is - Chapstick, Bowls, Greeting Cards down to Spirulina Smoothies take it for what is it, some stick and it's a good thing and others end up in the pantry next to the paint supplies and the 16 tubes of Saran Wrap from the "trying to shrink my belly" obsession.

I'll just go ahead and hide the bee keeping supplies in the forest. Making my own honey is healthier right?

Can you name any obsession you can laugh about?

Friday, May 10, 2019

WTF - Mother's Day

Back when my boys were little, they always celebrated Mother's Day.

One year they brought a piece of toast and a Miller Lite for breakfast in Bed.

Another year, they loaded all their compliments on Alexa and let her do all the talking.

Another year, they just crawled into bed with me and declared "no one is moving for the day."

It's special to me celebrating with my children, but there's a small part of me that's sad on Mother's Day. Especially this one with so many monumental things happening this year.

One turning 18.

One getting his Learner's Permit

One Graduating

One moving out to go to college.

It's times like these that make me miss my Mom. To call her and have her help me hold it together as my children celebrate getting older and I'm forced to continue to let go.

If I saw her for Mother's Day, I'd tell her how much Wolfgang looks like Dad. I'd expect her to tell me to pull it together as I get weepy when writing out graduation announcements. Maybe she'd take Max out driving just to save me the heart attack, probably not.

I know she'd be here for the upcoming Graduation, she'd be there at the beach this summer as we celebrate Jeff's 60th birthday. Hell, she'd probably be moving to Beech Mountain for the summer because she'd be retired.

I miss talking to her about kids, about lessons learned, about marriage. I miss not being able to call her and ask, "Is this normal?" as my body changes again - sometimes not for the best!

I'll go back to my email and find that folder of all her emails, re reading them and hearing her voice again. I'll look at pictures and smile remembering when she said we had to "act cool" going into a club we didn't belong to and tripping through the front door. Or smile when she called me from a business trip to California telling me how nice her hotel room was:

"You won't believe it. There's all kind of food and a refrigerator full of beer and liquor. I can't eat all the food, but I went ahead and put most of the refrigerator stuff in my luggage!"

When you lose parents, it's these holidays that make you stop and find gratitude that you had that time with Mom. Then just like all the monumental things happening this year have the courage to let it go and tuck it away in that little box of what you don't want to deal with right now. Smile as the Miller Lite and piece of toast you received when the kids were little are now Eagle Rare Bourbon and Sourdough Toast.

For those Moms out there, enjoy! Enjoy the time with your kids and your time with your Mom because you never realize how fast it goes until you're looking at Graduation announcements saying, "What the hell?"

Happy Mother's Day. I'm going to brunch at Beech Mountain Club because my son is working there and wants "to cook me something."

Holding it together right now, making Mom proud.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Takeaway from Yesterday's Town Council Meeting

Yesterday’s Council meeting was well attended and resulted in several significant decisions and useful information. For those of you unable to attend, Council meetings are now being live streamed over the internet so you can watch without being there.
          As a first item, Tim and Robert addressed the circumstances surrounding the water valve incident at Buckeye prior to Thanksgiving. Using the questions I submitted to the Council, they handed out a response sheet and did a summary presentation. In brief, it is clear to me that there was a lot of misinformation spread about the incident (further addressed below) and the Town handled the entire issue appropriately. 
          Here are the facts addressed. Because Buckeye Reservoir is a stream impoundment, the Army Corps of Engineers requires the Town to keep a certain water flow in Buckeye Creek below the dam. The valve, installed in 1984, is a 4 foot by 4 foot gate about 37 feet under water, controlled by a long iron pipe and screw gate. It is regularly opened to release water. On October 15, representatives of the Town met with representatives of various federal agencies to seek a change in the minimum release requirements. As part of that issue, the Town was asked to install stream flow gauges, as well as inspect and operate the valve. The Town retained an experienced dive contractor to complete this operation. The work needed to be done in the fall in case there was a release, to allow the Laketo refill. Town employees were aware of the risks involved in operating the valve.
          The contractor’s divers worked filming and operating the valve on November 20. At some point in the operation the valve rod bent due to water pressure, leaving the valve partially open and causing water to flow at a high  rate of speed through the valve. A diver working to determine what had occurred was sucked partially into the gate and became stuck. In a 4 hour rescue operation, involving about 45 people, the diver was rescued.  The valve, however, could not be closed until the Lake was drained. Once the Lakewas drained, the valve was closed and is now stuck in that position. The valve is operational, but the mechanism to open and close it will need to be entirely rebuilt. 
          The Town immediately declared a water emergency and implemented its emergency plans. The total cost of responding was about $60,800. An after action meeting has occurred and several issues requiring corrective action identified and implemented. Chief Pudney stated that this was an extraordinary rescue and many similar incidents result in death. Fortunately, this diver has recovered. Various individuals were recognized at the meeting for their efforts during the rescue.
          In other business, new appointments to various Town boards will be made in January and anyone interested in applying should do so. A motion for the Town to financially support the Resort’s bus service failed for lack of a second, but in subsequent discussion it was clear that a majority of the Council believes this is an issue better left to the TDA. By motion, the Council has agreed to allow a second public comment period at the end of each Council session, but only for those items addressed in the agenda. Finally, Council has set a public hearing on the proposed leash law ordinance for the January meeting. It is clear that the proposed ordinance currently has a 3 (Renee, Wendell and Barry) vote majority, but please make your thoughts known to Council. The annual planning retreat will take place in Council chambersJanuary 15 and the public is invited to attend, as well as submit issues and suggestions to Council prior to the meeting.
          Finally, a personal note. It was clear to me from public comments yesterday that social media is the 21st century equivalent of the game of telephone and should not be trusted when it comes to Town issues. If you see something on social media about Town matters, please do not further broadcast it until you have confirmed it with a Town employee or elected official. Two examples will illustrate the problem. First, much of the information spread about the valve problem was simply wrong. Second, the Town and TDA purchased one large ornament. There are no plans to purchase any others and any suggestion to the contrary are also wrong. Please do not spread false information on social media. Thanks and I look forward to seeing everyone at the January meeting.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

WTF - Getting Ready for the Weekend

Guys! They are calling for the possibility of two feet of snow in the High Country, or maybe not or maybe more! Gotta love North Carolina weather!  If you want to take a break from skiing here’s some great things happening in area resorts:

Appalachian Ski Mountain - Burton Ringlet Park Tour The Burton Riglet Park Tour is a mobile product demo and mini-snowboard park geared towards introducing children as young as 2 to the sport of snowboarding. A custom children’s learning terrain area will be provided at the base of ASM and Burton Snowboard experts will be offering a free “introductory terrain park experience” for children ages 2 to 6. Registration starts at 9am - noon. This is a free event but a helmet is required. Ice skating is also available.

Jones House Christmas Tree Lighting - Come to the community center from 5-8pm m on Friday for the lighting of the tree. Christmas music, Christmas goodies. 

Watauga Christmas Parade - Come Saturday and enjoy all the sights and sounds of the holidays with the parade down Main Street in Boone. The parade runs from 11-1pm with SANTA!

Watauga Community Band Annual Holiday Concert - this free concert is Saturday at ASU - Rosen Concert Hall, Broyhill Music Center from 7-830pm. 

Tweetsie Christmas - Tweetsie Railroad is decked out with Christmas lights for the train ride. A great holiday event, sessions are timed and open for all ages. Tickets are 38/per person children under 2 are free.

Sugar Mountain Sugarfest - Fest runs Dec 7 - 9th Come meet 1992 Olympic figure skating silver medalist Paul Wylie live music with Glen Harlow & North Fork Band, fireworks, preseason adult ski clinic, EDGE of the WORLD mini-games, appearances by Sweetie and Sugar Bear! For the schedule visit http://www.skisugar.com/sugarfest/

Banner Elk Small Town Christmas Weekend - festivities include a 5K run, breakfast with Santa, lighting the yule log, lighting the community Christmas tree. Fun for all ages. For the schedule visit https://www.bannerelk.com/members/small-town-christmas/ 

Beech Mountain Resort - Get some great winter storm skiing this weekend, ice skating is now open. With 6 inches of fresh snow and snowmaking temperatures, all week look for more terrain to open soon. Snowmaking on the tubing runs is in action as well.

Beech Mountain Brewing Beer Release Party - Come to Bodegas in Banner Elk at 5pm for Beech Mountain Brewery & Sierra Nevada’s launch of their Beer Camp Beech Season IPA. Live music from Handlebar Betty, food specials and a silent auction benefitting the Wooly Worm Festival (canceled the second day because of hurricane damage)

RECklESS Rail Jam Presented By Recess - Come to ride and have fun or come to watch these people throw it down. This is a free event in the Park of Beech Mountain Resort open to snowboarders of all levels.  Basic rail setup. Running from 9-5pm

Grandfather Mountain is offering dollar days for the month of the December. All local residents with a proof address can enter the park for $3/each. Visitors with Christmas trees on their car or a receipt from a local farm also receive a discount.

Catalooche - Come Thursday night for Backcountry Film Festival @ Sierra Nevada Brewing with Raffle Benefitting the Asheville Ski & Development Team. Tickets are $10/each or $12 at the door. Enjoy 9 films along with a raffle benefitting Asheville Ski Club Ski & Development Team.

Warren Haynes Christmas Jam - in nearby Asheville, enjoy a two-day music festival of music! Jam runs Friday and Saturday with daily and two day passes available. This year’s Christmas Jam House will be built in Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s newest neighborhood, Curry Court in Candler, which will become home to 12 families and will include both single family homes as well as townhomes. This jam, in its 29th year, has raised over 2.3 million for Habitat for Humanity.

There’s always plenty to do on the snow and off the snow in North Carolina!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Buckeye Reservoir Questions to Town Council

This is an email going around the town of Beech Mountain on our water situation. I wanted to share it with you in case you didn't see it. Big thanks to Urs for getting this moving for the December Town Council Meeting. If you are not on the email chain, let me know and I can forward email addresses.

As discussed with Renee, I have drafted a series of questions, attached, answers to which I believe are the minimum needed for taxpayers to have a better understanding of how this incident happened and how to prevent similar events. While I still believe an outside investigation is needed, I hope that these answers and the documentary evidence will
suffice. If any questions are unclear, please let me know. Urs

In order to better understand the facts and circumstances surrounding the loss of water at Buckeye Lake on November 20, 2018 and to ensure we are better prepared in the future, answers to the following questions are needed. In all cases, any documents supporting the relevant answers need to be provided. Any references to Town employees include contractors working for the Town under pre-existing contracts, such as contracts with West Consultants.

The Valve

1. When was the valve at issue installed?
2. What is the valve’s purpose?
3. What state or federal regulatory agencies have any jurisdiction over the valve or its functioning?
4. When was the last time, prior to the day of the incident, that the valve had been opened and closed?
5. What correspondence has the Town had in the past three years with any state or federal agencies about the valve?

The Dive Contract

1. What prompted the Town to contract with a dive company to inspect the valve?
2. Was there a Request for Proposal issued by the Town?
3. If so, describe the scope of work in the RFP.
4. How many bidders were there for the contract?
5. What was the scope of work in the final signed contract?
6. Who selected the contractor?
7. Was the contractor required to have general liability insurance?
8. When was the contract to be performed?
9. Who was to supervise the scope of work?
10. Was the contractor tasked to open and close the valve?
11. If so, was there any discussion about the possible adverse consequences to water levels at Buckeye Lake if the valve could not be closed?
12. Was there any discussion about using a coffer dam or other method to isolate the valve from the lake to facilitate inspection?

The Incident

1. What employees of the Town were present while the divers were at Buckeye Lake?
2. Describe, using eyewitness testimony, what occurred at Buckeye Lake on November 20, 2018, starting from when the divers arrived until the diver was rescued.
3. What, if any, instructions did the divers receive from any Town employee on November 20, 2018, prior to the diver’s leg becoming entangled?
4. Who decided to open the valve on November 20, 2018?
5. Was there any discussion on November 20 about the possible adverse consequences to Buckeye Lake levels if the valve could not be closed?
6. Was there an emergency plan in place in the event that the valve could not be closed?

Emergency Response

1. Did the Town have a written emergency plan to deal with a sudden loss of water at Buckeye Lake?
2. If so, was that plan executed?
3. If so, what were the parameters of that plan?
4. What was the total cost to the Town to supply water by tanker and to supply bottled water?
5. Has there been an after action meeting of Town employees about the incident and the response?
6. If so, what deficiencies were identified?
7. If so, what changes, if any, were proposed to any Town policies or emergency plans?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Beech Mountain - Questions and Answers About Our State Of Emergency

As many know and experienced, Beech Mountain had state of emergency over the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend resulting in water shortages.

Residents pulled together, conserving as much water as they could helping the town get through this emergency! Shout out to the residents!

The town did a fine job of keeping the water flowing, including bringing water up in tanker trucks while working round the clock over a holiday weekend closing the valve and getting our water levels back up to acceptable by Sunday.

I asked Tim Holloman a few questions and thought I would share with you the results.

Many people are asking why this work was done during a holiday week when we knew the mountain was going to be busy. It would be nice for the town to let us know. Was this the only time we could get a diver? Was it a maintenance schedule?
  • "Kelly, thanks for reaching out.  The time for this work was carefully thought out and dependent on the contractor’s work schedule.  The months of September, October and November are the best in regards to surface and groundwater recharge.  The work was supposed to be clean, video and assess. No repair work was planned.  This is just one of many routine projects and we don’t notify the public unless it has any effect on the operation.  If there was no accident, nothing would have been impacted.  The Town uses divers on a regular basis to clean water tanks, etc.  This is part of trying to reduce the amount of water that we have to release on a regular basis and to be in compliance with our existing state permit.  This, in turn, affects the larger project of trying to get a freshwater intake to the Watauga River."

There are many also saying that we had the grant to get this fixed four years ago but the town didn't want to spend the money. Included in this is that the valve hadn't been serviced in 10 years.  
  • "I’m not aware of any grant that we didn’t get or use.  I believe that prior councils had been informed of the work that needed to be done, but was not funded.  If I find out differently, I will follow up."

I heard the diver had broken limbs and surgery and wanted to see if this was true also. All the news reports said just hypothermia.
  • "No broken limbs and he was released Wednesday evening from the hospital."
  • Kelly - I also talked to some of the first responders. The diver was on an umbilical cord type oxygen so there was no worry of air running out. First responders pumped warm water to the diver keeping hypothermia at bay. Another shout out to our First Responders and their hard work saving this man's life!

Also, has this now solved the problem? Or is it part of other items. 
  • "The problem with the gate is not fixed, just closed.  Engineers and staff are working on the fix and there is no document available at this time.  The “looksee” was the purpose of the divers to craft a plan and document for repair at a later date."
I saw most of the Press Releases on Facebook, so if you are not a friend of the town you may want to add them to your friend list.

Make sure, if you haven't, sign up for CodeRed phone calls from the town. This is a great way to stay informed on everything from events affecting traffic to road closures, to public works work to everything that happened this past weekend.

Now go ahead and finish your laundry congratulating yourself and the Town of Beech Mountain for pulling this one out!

Would love to hear your thoughts or other questions?