Sunday, April 20, 2014


As the oldest town of the Northwest Territory, Marietta has a wealth of history and claim to fame.  Recently, the city was listed in a couple of publications (one of which was Smithsonian Magazine) as one of the top small towns in the country to visit - an honor that is most appropriate and well-deserved. The meticulous care and attention that goes into some of the homes in the downtown area amplify the uniqueness of our city for those who come to visit: they're elegant and eye-catching.
However, for every well-groomed and carefully manicured home within the city's boundaries, there are just as many buildings and abandoned belongings of equal intrigue for me.  Here are a few of ones that have recently found their way into my heart.  
733 Greene Street:  Boarded doors and windows, either sealed or covered with tattered curtains prevent the story of this dwelling to be revealed.  Its legacy is left to the imagination.

The weather's taken its toll over the years on this delivery door, and the green sliding closure has been stuck in place long enough for what's underneath it to reveal layers of decomposition and privacy.

If you leave anything around long enough, the multiflora rose invades.  I wouldn't get near this old truck much later in the year;  it's a snake haven - perhaps the serpents' preferred mode of transportation. 
 This patch job lends itself to geometric interest, as well as a combination of weathered colors.  There was no way I could climb up to peak in the windows here, but my mind went wild with ruminations of what took place years ago behind the patchings and broken glass.
 Rectangles above rectangles.  Red, white and faded blue façade.  I doubt if anyone resides on the second floor to enjoy the luxury of the rusted air conditioner in the heat of summer.

I plan to continue my studies of abandonment's beauty and story.....This is just the beginning.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Although there's a blanket of  snow on the ground this morning, I can see signs of spring around the farm.  With it comes my heightened urge to get outside and chart the many things I'd like to accomplish during this growing season - a long list that grows exponentially each time I walk out the door, for sure.

At this very moment, I'm staring at a regally purple anemone I rescued from Lowe's at a rock bottom price, new blossom spikes on my iridescent pink African violet, a large bloom shoot emerging from my late-planted amaryllis, and the first signs of seeds I planted last week in my makeshift mini-greenhouses made from rotisserie chicken containers.  My coleus cuttings from last year's plants are in the dirt and thriving, and I've got some beautiful geranium cuttings started.  The kitchen now serves as a transplanting station, confusing the corgis since they associate that space with food rather than plants.  The cold frame's heating up for the greens and other flats I'll start in it later on this morning. With daffodils ready to open, buds throwing out pollen in bushels, peepers' choruses in the evening, and the return of warm season bird friends, I'm ready to celebrate.  It's been a wonderfully beautiful, long, cold winter - long enough for the enthusiasm of spring to kick me into outdoor mode in the big way.

My offering at the vernal equinox last week was one of gratitude for the many things I've planted along the way that are bountiful in life:  my children and I are happy and well; my mom's coming for Eliza's graduation in a couple of weeks, and I've been able to maintain the farm in the best way I can.  I have friends; I live with two goofy corgis who keep my head in the mindset of play, and I'm able to work on some creative pursuits with my photos and paper.  I'm frequently reminded that I have nothing about which I can complain or whine.  As I turn the compost and refresh my garden beds with rich soil I've overseen, my heart soars with the simplicity of joy and revitalization that spring brings. The spring sun shines in my heart!

Saturday, March 08, 2014


Saturday morning has rolled around. Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris are singing me a song on Pandora, and the sun's edging up over the hill. I am officially on spring break-a long-awaited few days away from my desk during which I'll head to NC and hang with Mom. There are several chores to complete before leaving, but the corgis and I are ready to hit the road and have some time in the mountains.
I have no idea what the energetic implication is, but I continue to have close encounters of the Great Blue Heron kind.  Two flew directly over the house the other afternoon, squawking along the way as if to say "howdy...any good ponds around?" A couple days later, the corgis and I were on a walk off the beaten path downtown, and as MerryBelle went to get a drink out of the river, I turned to the left and found myself within 10' of one.  It was as surprised as I. Our eyes met for a mili-second, and it squawked at the same moment I jumped at the unexpected meeting.  It took off, and I watched it tuck its neck and head off across the river. And then yesterday, I walked to across the pedestrian bridge for breakfast at The Busy Bee, only to see one perched on a piling near the dock beneath me. With its neck gathered close to its body, I initially thought the bird was a green heron, but this guy/gal decided to stretch, and yep, it was another GBH. I don't think it was quite awake, for it just looked at me and returned to snooze pose.
In other farm news:
a.  the first little yellow crocuses I planted over three decades ago in the south side bed are up and opening to the warm sun....
b.  the Red-Winged Blackbirds are back, and all the birdies are getting pretty frisky....
c.  I've started some seeds and transplanted indoor plants that were up for some fresh dirt, marking the first dirty fingernail week of 2014...
d.  my upper level students had a very enlightening conversation with John Suarez about the success and power of non-violent opposition.....
e.  out of the 500+ pictures I took this week, I came up with a couple that I think are suitable for submission in a local show coming up soon....the photo above is just one I like - a button from the flea market placed on a piece of grate from I found at the ruins of my great-grandparents' home in Matney, NC....
f.  the box of handmade paper under my bed has been calling my name, and I have a project idea for it....
g.  the late-planted amaryllises I set last week are pushing up some leaves, hopefully as forerunners to bud shoots....
h.  Samuel and Eliza have both checked in for extended conversations this week --always special moments when we have a chance to really talk....
i.   last Sunday's snow has melted over the course of the week.  I LOVED what could be our last significant visit by the snow fairies.... 
k.  Mac and MerryBelle would report that they're quite the tag-team duo when it comes to treeing raccoons and hassling possums.  My neighbors would report they're pretty much an annoyance when they do so at midnight.
  j.  It won't be long until I'm pulling up the thousands of shoots that will spring from the seeds that have fallen from seed pods like this one. Datura is a POWERFUL plant.  One learns a quick lesson about awareness of these pods when he/she starts to mess around where they're resting on the soil.

k.  It's been a good week, and I am (as always) struck by my many blessings.  I have nothing about which I feel inclined to whine.....

Sunday, March 02, 2014


I'll begin this post by stating I realize the practices that guide my life are not necessarily mainstream. No surprise to those who know me, right? 

I don't profess to follow a scripted set of religious precepts, yet I know in my heart I'm profoundly connected to universal truths - - love, kindness, compassion, service - all good things in the eyes of most "believers," I think.  I try, although not always successfully, to do no harm...a lesson in progress, always.

I am so connected to the Earth that I think I should grow roots. In the cycling of the seasons, I find answers to questions that befuddle my limited understanding as a humble being whose time on the planet will be truly insignificant in the long run. Birds, animals, flowers, trees, bugs, mountains, the ocean, the wind...they all massage my soul...bring me peace....enlighten and expand my mind. I need space and solitude as much as others need close connection and interaction.  I don't mean to say I don't enjoy being around and connecting with other folks; I just have to have time and a place to recharge - perhaps "more than the average bear." Give me the choice of sitting in the woods for an hour with my camera in hand or equal time in a crowded shopping mall, and it's a no-brainer where one would find me.

To the utter frustration of many, I resist commitment to time frames and calendars - organization and orderliness that others find necessary in their lives. My experience, for the most part, has always been that adventures always present themselves: following a strict itinerary could perhaps preclude experiencing a spontaneously amazing moment . Have I missed opportunities as a result of not planning ahead from time to time?  Yes, no doubt.  BUT,  have I experienced many, many more amazing free-formed moments as a result of my spur-of-the-moment nature?  Oh, yeah...I resist being tied down on all levels.

Models of courage and conviction inspire me. Likewise, I remain in awe of and intrigued by differences, even those that present a wide gap in common ground between my vision and the opposite.  As long as I can find a small morsel of  commonality, I can pretty much hang out....


the uncommon ground begins to define itself in terms of intolerance.  Lack of civility and decency begin to surface.  

Recently in the area where I live, a young Muslim woman was intimidated by a person who stopped her on the street and shoved a cross in her face. Likewise, my state representative was part of a group who had legislation poised for introduction that would make room within the law for discrimination.  (The sponsors withdrew the bill once a similar bill in Arizona was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer.) I won't waste time reiterating other examples of unkindness (ignorance, perhaps a better noun here), for doing so hurts my heart and elevates my blood pressure.

So, my questions become these: What is there about human existence that contorts and twists and denigrates our understanding of each other?  Is it within the power of our species to reach lasting, harmonious, respectful co-existence? I want to emphasize I am not suggesting all people be alike, believe alike, etc. I am suggesting, however, there is power in peaceful thought and action....there is value in the idea of decency and compassion.....there is possibility in changing the way we do business with others that would greatly benefit all.....

A simple starting point......

Your thoughts??

Sunday, February 23, 2014


It's that monochromatic time of the year. Lots of gray, brown, white, non-vibrant blue-gray.  There are moments when I long for splashes of color when I step outside, but there is beauty in its absence during these winter months. 
So here's the barn during the last snowstorm. The structure has a wonderful history...a wonderful incredibly useful purpose here at The Farm. It has weathered the years of wind, rain, heat and frigid temps gracefully. Taking direct hits from storms that move in from the west, the ole' girl has stood proudly for over a hundred years. I believe she's one of the oldest, largest barns in the area, and I'd sure give her a makeover in a heartbeat if lottery winnings came my way. 
Fog settles on the river frequently; however the morning I took this picture, it hung particularly dense and heavy under the bridge between Marietta and Williamstown.  At one  point, I couldn't discern where the bridge ended and land began.  Perspective and distance were rather redefined, and the fog perfectly held the image of the bridge above it.
The Buddha has many faces, and I love that wherever I encounter him, he's wearing his "half-smile." The dude's never in a grouchy mood, and there's a great deal to be said about that - -a consistent reminder to evaluate what's really serious in life.  I find when I do, I eliminate a lot of needless angst while gaining perspective on joy and happiness, despite problematic moments.  This Buddha was sitting on the floor in a local antique store, pretty much out of view. He watched a lot of feet pass by, and still, he smiled his Buddha smile.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


The Week In Review: I've had a very good week, and I'm a happy me. As I sit at the computer now, snow's swirling outside after an additional 2" fell over night.  Two corgis are playing "I Can Bark Louder than You" at the base of the stairs, and I'm into my second cup of coffee. 

It's silent outside, just the way I love a good snowy morning.....

Here's a summary of the last 7 days:

1. Last Saturday, I met Emma, a sweet, beautiful little red-headed girl whose mom brought her to see Dr. Insecta. Emma, who has some physical and cognitive challenges, liked spiders, and she really liked coming to see Dr. Insecta. Emma touched my heart, as well as Dr. Insecta's. Her photo with Dr. Insecta made it on the Evergreen Arts & Humanities Facebook page!

2. I've witnessed people all over the country respond to a spur-of-the-moment call to help people in WV who need water. Two students, Jake and Kristian, really came through during the project: Jake purchased $50 of water for the cause, saving me from having to do it, and Kristian donated his Friday morning to loading and then unloading almost 700 gallons of water. I love solidarity; I love introducing people to the effectiveness of grass roots activism, and I especially love the idea that people are willing to help others. 

3. Students in my small writing class showed great progress, as well as a willingness to try a rather challenging assignment. I am venturing away from the established syllabus and creating my own approach to instruction in this class.  I firmly believe that when given enough example and encouragement, anyone can learn to write, and by crackies, we're going for it! 

4. I read and re-read the love notes people long ago wrote on Valentines that are now a part of my collection - sweet, sweet expressions of love. The old-fashioned names, like Pearl, Delbert, Tilley, and Lester, bring smiles to my face, as do their flirtatious messages that had to be a little daring for the time! 

5. The corgis and I have had some great play, and I see an improvement in MerryBelle's gimpy leg, thank goodness. Mac is an absolute hoot as he bounces through the drifts.  His coat has thickened by several layers, and the cold is as refreshing to him as air conditioning is to people on a scorching summer day. I'm using the snow as physical therapy for MerryBelle and her lame knees / hips.  She can't run in leaps and bounds in the snow, which is good at this point, but it does provide strength conditioning as she plows her way after Mac.

6. Flocks of bluebirds have greeted me every day as I've driven down the driveway, their blue a beautiful color against the snowy landscape. I really don't recall seeing large quantities of them this early in the year here at the farm,, and I welcome their return.  

7. My orchids are glorious, and my African violets are thriving, despite sitting in the draft of the heating grate. In a couple of weeks, I should have 8 orchids in full bloom.  Today, I'm headed out to bring in the amaryllises for repotting.  I quite behind on bringing them out, I must confess.

8. My family's thriving: Eliza's undergraduate research has been acknowledged in a paper presented in Hiroshima, Japan, and Samuel got word of an impending publication. Nothing brings me more satisfaction than witnessing the lives of my children. Both are thriving at the moment, and for that, I offer a thousand thanks a second to the Universe. Mom, at  95, continues to amaze me--she's healthy, active enough, involved in the lives of those she loves, and spirited (on the borderline of stubborn) in her ideas. What a blessing! 

9. I've really, really enjoyed the snow this winter. Deep within, I associate the feeling to being in Boone as a child during some of our snowy winters. There have been a couple of days when snow sparkles really ignited joy in my heart. For one who has a tendency to plummet during the winter, succumbing to SAD, the snow's bright reflection and the silence/peace  of snowy days at home have made for a peaceful, productive (somewhat) Farm Mom.

10. Knitting needles have been clicking, and yarn has been sliding through my fingers. As evidenced in other aspects of my life, I have several unfinished projects in the works. The older I get, the more I realize I'm prone to begin many projects with undetermined completion times!

The list could go on and on, but I'm eager to get outdoors, feed the birds, check out the lay of the land, and plan my day, which MUST include a bit of cleaning!

Love to all on this day after Valentines!

Saturday, February 08, 2014


Yesterday afternoon, the skies cleared, the sun re-emerged after a good 4-5 days of absence. The temps rose above 10 degrees, and a friend and I decided to take one of our spur-of-the-moment "v-cations" (as Eliza used to say). 
We contemplated lunching at the local Chinese restaurant where the cooks are nice enough not to prepare MSG-laden food, but then the idea struck me to go to the Boat House, a restaurant/bar situated along the Ohio River.  The afternoon sun radiated off the snow and water, and the window-enclosed addition to the bar provided a setting as close as one could come to actually being outside on this deceptively warm-looking afternoon.
There was no traffic along the river, except for the Great Blue Herons who were out in abundance, gliding gracefully up and down the river. I absolutely stand in awe of these large graceful birds;  for many a year, they've been a source of great inspiration for me, especially when I didn't feel like I could stand on one leg, support myself, and maintain my balance (figuratively.)
(We watched numbers of these majestic birds flying along the edge of the water, just like the one pictured here.
 Photo credit:  unknown) 
I have to my friend with a heap of patience, for when one of the Great Blues would fly by, I would immediately lose our thread of conversation.  I am always mesmerized by these birds, and as one would come into view, I fixed on it until it was out of sight. 
Then I witnessed something absolutely amazing! One was flying up the middle of the river when I saw him approaching the water as if to land. There were small ice floes there that he probably thought would support him, and as he got very close to the water, he looked as if he were going to dive for a fish, but much to his surprise, I think, he completely submerged under the water.  He re-emerged quickly thereafter and began to attempt to take flight.  With his neck fully extended toward the sky, he started flapping his wings in an effort to lift his body out of the water.  It was very obvious the task was a daunting one, for he couldn't ascend high enough to start flapping his wings in forward motion.  At that point, he went back down. I sensed his panic, as well as my own. 
The huge bird again stretched his neck at a 90-degree angle to the sky and started short, rapid mini-flaps with his wings.  Again, he really looked like he was depending on the strength of his neck muscles to help him get high enough for his wings to move without hitting water. 
(I'm sure the two men seated a couple of tables down from us were pretty much unaware of what was going on.  They had not noticed any of the many GB's that had flown by during the time they sat there, talking about something immensely boring and political.)
OK, the next part of the story might seem a little bizarre for some, but as I watched the bird struggle to regain flight, I felt a surge of energy inside me leave my body in a beam directly aimed at the GBH.  I could feel the vibration leaving my body through my third eye, and I could hear myself telling the creature how close he was to gaining enough height to fly forward.  I felt like an energy-possessed cheerleader, assuring him he could make it - he was so close to taking off! And sure enough, he struggled a few seconds longer until he could start flapping to lift himself up and start up river.
That's not the end of the story, however.  I "re-entered the atmosphere" long enough to catch my breath and continue the conversation with my friend, only to "feel" the bird once again, as if he were calling my name.  As I turned to look at the river, my GBH friend had turned from north to west and was flying directly toward me --dead on, directly toward me!  He flew past the river's edge toward the Boat House and then dropped down on the bank just below where I was sitting.  I heard him calling, but I didn't see him for another 5 minutes or so until he took off flying south. By that time, my friend was as engaged in what was happening as I, and as the heron went down river, both of us just sat for a few seconds with our mouths wide open - -We had just had a most special encounter with Mother Nature and her incredible fisherman, the Great Blue Heron.
(photo credit: unknown)
My close encounters with Great Blue Herons are too numerous to relate here, but suffice to say, I've always thought of this majestic creature as one of my totems, a guiding animal spirit.  Their connection to both air and water provides good balance for me as a Virgo (a double Virgo, at that) who can use a little urging from time to time to take a break from her Earth pull.
And, I like what Ted Andrews says about the Great Blues in his book, Animal-Speak:  The heron's long legs "...are symbols of balance, and they represent the ability to think and evolve. The longer the legs...the deeper life can be explored. The long thin legs of the heron reflect that you don't need massive pillars to remain stable, but you must be able to stand on your own. This is especially significant for those with a totem of the great blue heron, as it is a lone hunter....GBHs stand out in their uniqueness, and they know how to snatch and take advantage of things and events the average person doesn't bother with....The GBH is powerful in takes aggressive movement toward opportunities that present themselves."
I watched the heron yesterday rely on its instinct and strength to rescue itself from the icy waters.  I feel blessed and energized for the unique experience of our connection.  I can't  stop thinking about what I witnessed, both with the bird and within myself.

Monday, February 03, 2014


Snow days were never a problem at our house. When the kids were at home more than likely, either their dad or I would be at home along with them.  So, my immediate association of having a day away from work is one of fun times:  cooking a pot of soup, sledding, walking in the fields, playing board games or putting a puzzle together. Just like when I was a kid.
Even though I'm at the farm by myself these days, I still enjoy the silence and peace of snow days.  This morning the corgis and I walked the back field in 7" of virgin snow.  I worked up a good sweat under my layers while they panted and plowed a path ahead of me.  Mac, in particular, gets really frisky as he bounces through the powdery blanket of cold stuff that's as high as his shoulders, and MerryBelle loves to turn her head to the sky and catch snowflakes as they fall - much like I remember doing as a child. A lone robin accompanied us part of the way, hopping from bush to bush along the fence line.  I'm sure her delight with this touch of winter was much less that that of the corgis' and mine. I sensed a tone of complaint rather than joy in her song - understandably so.

Once back from the woods, the adventurer in me had to check out the road situation.  Actually, what I really wanted to do was see if the Subaru would make it to the end of the driveway in the deep snow.  Sure enough, it did, and I drove into the gas station to fill up .My mobility might be compromised, however, if the wind picks up and brings about some drifts!
I also find that snow days allow me to feel free to play as if I had nothing else to do.  This afternoon, I've pulled out my colored pencils and paper stash and made a little book.  I've added a few inches to Eliza's sweater, and soon, I'll cook up something good.  From my desk, I can look out and watch the birds at the feeder, and they always bring me great joy. Music has filled the house all day, just as it does in the summer when I'm home during the day.  Boredom isn't a problem, that's for sure!  If anything, I have a hard time deciding in which direction to focus my play!
Most of all, snow days always bring up memories of my childhood in Boone - days during which I would spend time on a sled racing down a hill or playing with Richard next door. I remember skiing at my cousins' house one winter, and I can taste the hot chocolate (made from scratch) Mom always had ready for us once we came in.  I miss Boone in the winter maybe more than the summer: frosted trees and snow-covered mountains tower there in the winter in every direction - awesome spectacles!

As the sun has come out this afternoon, the snow glitter sparkles.  Perhaps, I'll build a fire....It's not that cold, but doing so seems appropriate, and I'm sure Mac and MerryBelle will enjoy a long nap once the flames begin to heat up the hearth....

(In all honesty, I'm hoping for another day at home tomorrow!)

Sunday, January 26, 2014


I'm posting these photos I took in 2013 and altered a bit, mainly so I can see what they look like in a posted format.  I really enjoy playing with my camera, and most everything I photograph is something I see around me here at The Farm - commonplace subject matter with a touch of editing or not).  By the way, most of these images have already made a public appearance on Facebook
Here's a confession:  I'm really quite shy about my photographic work.  After sitting at dinner one summer evening, listening to an assembled group of established and rather renowned (area) artists bash photography as an art / craft, I felt like sliding under the table.  I would never claim to be an artist, and certainly I understand the limits of my "artistic" ability as per their definition; however, their commentary set my mind in motion. 
I'm not in any business with my photographs, and I'm not looking to carve out a niche for myself in the world of "art."  I work with my camera for fun and personal pleasure.  I do credit myself with a discerning eye, and I like to see what I can come up with once I move images from the camera onto my computer. I have always been drawn to the myriad tiny components that make the whole photo, so from time to time, I do a bit of macro work.  
That's about the sum total for me - - capturing snapshots that catch my eye, pique my interest, and provide moments of pleasure personally.
Here's what that process yields:

A single hinge holding a massive old door on the barn....

Beautiful lines of the datura flower as it unfold....

Magnified colors of a rusty piece of tin....

A line of color from an adolescent boy's interest in graffiti that appeared on the side of the barn one day years ago...


My favorite smiley guy on the farm in black in white....

An experiment in texture, using stone, bone, and a piece of pottery.....
I'm totally open to my readers' thoughts and commentaries, so feel free to throw in your two cents' worth.  Most importantly, just enjoy the images and colors.  That's what's most important to me.

Monday, January 13, 2014


(Written on Sunday, January 12, 2014)

This afternoon, as friends and family gather in Boone to honor Uncle Frank, the corgis and I will take to the field in the direction of the woods, with binoculars in hand and eyes and ears at full alert in  search of our feathered friends.  If Uncle Frank were here to visit, he'd be right there with us, for he never missed the opportunity to be outdoors on the land, whether that be on his beloved acreage out on Roaring Fork (near Boone) or over at Big Pine (his home place in Madison County near Asheville, NC). 

Uncle Frank Randall passed away shortly after midnight last Thursday.  We all knew he was in his final days, and at Christmas, Samuel, Eliza and I had a special last visit with him at Glenbridge Assisted Living Center in Boone. We were well aware that time would be our last with him, for Uncle Frank understood what happening on many levels, and like the consummate scientist he was, could recognize the signs himself.

Although Uncle Frank, his beloved wife, Aunt Lera, and son, Richard moved to Boone when Richard and I were in first grade, I can't remember my life without them. Our families, along with Robert and Lib Randall and their children, were as close as blood relatives, and to this day, Eliza and Samuel include the Randalls any time they list their relatives. Before the expression was coined, Uncle Frank, Aunt Lera, Mom and Dad, Aunt Lib and Uncle Robert understood the notion of the village raising the children, and we children didn't give a second thought to obeying whatever directive came from whatever parent. Our families lived side by side, vacationed together, gardened together, shared holidays together and loved together. And, the subsequent generation, my children and Betsy's, have the blessed advantage of experiencing that same level of familial interaction. Seeing Uncle Frank and Aunt Lera in Boone when they are there is as routine as being with Petie, their grandmother.

Richard wrote this wonderful tribute to Uncle Frank in preparation for the inevitable. What an incredible man Uncle Frank was - a man with the courage to follow his convictions as a conscientious objector at a time when our country was involved in WW II. The text is a bit lengthy, but I want to post it in its entirety for the sake of having it preserved on my blog:

Dr. J. Frank Randall, 95, a long time member of the Boone, NC, community and retired Professor of Biology at Appalachian State University, died on January 10, 2014 at Watauga Medical Center.

Born in 1918 at the family farm on Big Pine Creek, Madison County, NC, Dr. Randall was the fifth child of John Wesley Randall, Jr., and Lou Ella Randall. Like so many in the Randall family, he pursued a career in teaching and education, receiving an A.A. from Brevard College, an A.B. from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an M.S. from The University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Biology from The University of South Carolina. Before joining the faculty of what was Appalachian State Teachers College in 1957, Dr. Randall taught for two years at Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, NY, for seven years in the public secondary schools of North Carolina, and for three years at the then newly-established Alpena (MI) Community College.

Dr. Randall’s enthusiasm for teaching was evident in his early morning ornithology classes. He readily shared his avid interest in birds and their environment and nurtured this same appreciation and love of nature in his students. He had a breadth of interest that led him to help develop a series of Biology Department classes ranging from ecology and biogeography to mammalogy, ichthyology, vertebrate zoology, evolution, and endangered species. He was a proponent of the idea that understanding the natural world around us is an important part of an education. In that vein he created a special biology course for home economics majors and constantly shared his love of field biology formally and informally with students, family, and friends. His two academic trips with students to Alaska (1974 and 1977, respectively) and three trips (1979, 1982, and 1985) to South America to the Galapagos Islands and portions of mainland Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru, including Machu Picchu, were cherished experiences and robust learning exercises for the participants.

He took pride in, and his students benefited from, his multidisciplinary knowledge. He delighted and surprised many students from small communities with his detailed knowledge of their communities, some of which was acquired during his comprehensive survey of fish in the Catawba-Wateree river basin. Focused on more than just their academic success in a particular class, he conveyed to his students the importance of development of the whole person by challenging them to think deeply about ethics, politics, and human impact on the Earth.

He was keenly aware of his responsibilities as an educator and teacher and played a major role in establishing the Appalachian Faculty Senate, serving as its first chairman. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Dr. Randall was active in the Audubon Society, North Carolina Nature Conservancy, Bluff Mountain Stewardship Committee (where he conducted hiking tours), and the Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee for North Carolina. He was active with Boy Scouts, serving as a Scoutmaster and as an Explorer Post Advisor.

His lifelong commitment to conservation and preservation was fostered by appreciation for plants, animals, and ecosystems that he absorbed from his father during childhood in the rural NC mountains and by the love of geography and education inspired by his mother. These characteristics were expanded and reinforced when, as a young man, he hitchhiked throughout much of the western US.

Dr. Randall was a kind, gentle, patient, and non-violent person and a conscientious objector during the second world war—an unpopular but genuine belief for which he had to mount legal challenges to state and federal agencies to defend. He served through the American Friends Service Committee and other organizations, performing conservation work in California and Oregon, as well as helping migrant workers and American citizens of Japanese heritage who were relocated to internment camps by the federal government. As part of his alternate civilian service, he volunteered to become a 'smoke jumper' for fighting forest fires in west; although, that program was canceled before he was deployed.

Since his retirement in 1990, Dr. Randall spent much of his time adding to, enjoying, and working on his Roaring Fork nature preserve in the Meat Camp section of Watauga County. He shared his love and enthusiasm for this favorite spot with friends, relatives, scouts, students, and beloved canines, Snowzey and Baxter.

Dr. Randall was one of a close family of eight children. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by all of his siblings and their spouses: brothers Herman, Paul (Evelyn), Robert (Elizabeth), Fred (Myrtle), and sisters Virginia Roberts (Gordon), Maye Hill (Jim), Nina Roberts (Sam), as well as niece Carolyn Roberts Woodrow and nephew Robert L. Randall, Jr.

Surviving Dr. Randall are his wife of 63 years, Lera Britt Randall, formerly of Chadbourn, NC, and son, Richard R. Randall, of Durham, NC. He is also survived by dozens of nieces and nephews and their children, whose friendship and love he cherished.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to The Nature Conservancy, American Friends Service Committee, Southern Environmental Law Center, National Audubon Society, institutions of higher education, UNC-TV, or other non-profit, charitable organizations of the donor's preference.

The family welcomes favorite recollections from students and friends wishing to share them at Visitation will be 3:00-5:00 p.m. Sunday, January 12, 2014, at Austin and Barnes Funeral Home (828.264.8888, in Boone. A memorial service, to be scheduled, will be held in the Spring


I keep hearing the words of the woman who conducted my friend Brian Dendle's memorial service, reminding those of us assembled that Brian was not gone from our lives but rather as present as ever, only in a different form and way of understanding.  I've found her words to be very true, for I sense and feel Brian today as much as I did when he was incarnate here on the Earth. 
So it will be with Uncle Frank.  He lives in me and my children, and he is alive in the world around us.  I know about  birds because of him; my ability to question and rationalize is much more keen as a result of knowing him, and my love of the Earth is heightened by living around him.  His legacy continues in me and in my children, along with the many other students and friends he touched.  His was, indeed, a life well lived!