Planning and Preparation

This morning at 4:15 a.m., Son 1 and I headed down the mountain to meet the bus on campus that took him to the train and home to his apartment and job. The moon was so full and bright on my way home that I had to stop halfway down our long drive and get a photo as it was setting below the trees and ridge to the west.

Seldom am I up to see this.

When I was toasting his bagel to go with a previously boiled egg, and a cup of fresh coffee, the toaster that has been failing did. I tried to toast a slice of bread for me and one half of one side got slightly toasted. Out on errands later, a new toaster was purchased. The old one might have been more than a decade old. The new one isn’t fancy, a dial that will allow darker or lighter toast, a bagel button, and a cancel button. The display had ones that looked like they should have been able to make the bread and then toast it for all the settings.

Over the weekend, the idea lightbulb went off after having talked with my trainer last week about 2nd graders (her oldest is second grade), and she encouraged me to have lots of things they could touch. Back a number of years ago, when I did a couple of summer camps in the community, I started making simple spindles from a wooden wheel, a length of dowel, and a cup hook. They only cost about a dollar each to make, so we went to the local craft store today and purchased the supplies. There will be 8 spindles already started with a bit of wool on them to pass around for them to “try out,” a couple of small hand woven matts, the flax, hemp, and cotton fiber samples, a few of the box loom tapes as well. I will show them the lucet in use, and pass a length of the cord you make with it. And will be spinning on a drop spindle when they enter and while I introduce them to the house and life of the period. There are supposed to be about 60 children, so I hope we have more volunteers and more rotations of interest to them. The weather should be a good day.

The chicks still had not ventured out into the run. Every time one of them approached the pop door, a hen would run up and put them in their place. This afternoon, a long length of 3 foot high erosion fence was staked out around one side of the coop and I moved the chicks into the grass and sun. Their food and water placed in there with them. The hens are absolutely beside themselves that they can’t get to them. I did cover the top with another section of the plastic erosion fence to deter the hawk. Since I have made it a point to handle these chicks often as they have been growing, they don’t run squawking away when I approach them, so returning them to the coop later will be easy.

Tonight we have a near freezing night, then tomorrow it will be back up to 70 during the day and most nights will be near or above 50. The hanging porch plants can be taken back outside from their winter in the utility room and I will just have to keep an eye on the nighttime temps. The hummingbirds are back, though I have only seen a couple so far. They love the big pot of Columbine on the back deck and the feeder is up in the front. I love watching them flit around. One of the half barrels was planted with the hardy herbs that have been outdoors for several weeks now. They were in smaller pots that I couldn’t keep wet enough. The half barrel holds moisture better. The half barrel with strawberries is blooming, though I don’t think there will be more than a couple berries this year. I’m more interested in starting more of the runners, so an actual bed of them can be started.

It is delightful to have warmer weather, and lighter layers on when we go for our walks.

Away and back again

A few weeks ago, we lost our gentle giant of a dog. His lack of mobility had kept us from any travel without finding a farm sitter strong enough to help him to his feet and he weighed 200 lbs. It was very sad for us, but he was nearly 12 years old and had lived a good life. His partner in crime is a 95 lb German Shepherd who is 11 1/2, but still able to get into the back of the car with a running start and sometimes a human assist. We decided to board her and get away for a few days. Our travel had ceased with Covid then human health issues, and the big dog’s issues.

We reserved 3 nights at Big Meadows Lodge on the Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park and two days before we were to leave, we received a call that the electricity had been cut to the Lodge for the safety of the firefighters who were fighting a slow moving wildfire that started outside the park on the east side, but had encroached into the park, not threatening any building, but requiring the power cut and seriously impacting the air quality in that part of the park due to the smoke. We were offered a full refund, a change of reservation to next year, or change to Skyland 10 miles farther north. We chose that option but just for 2 nights. Hiked some, climbed Big Stony Man and looked down on the valley and also down on our cabin. It was pleasant, but not the same as our preferred Big Meadows where we have very fond memories with our children as they grew up. We hiked in shirt sleeves on Thursday.

And Friday, we awoke to snow and ice, but not more than an inch before we left and drove another hour plus to pick up Son 1 at work and let him drive us to Bethesda, Md were they live and to our hotel. The hotel, a high rise 4 star venue that was gorgeous until we found out our room was infested with cockroaches, a major turn off. The weather in Bethesda was very nice Friday night and until we left after breakfast today. We enjoyed a delightful dinner our with son, his gal and her son, a trip to the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy space museum on Saturday with all, then a lovely Tex Mex meal at their apartment afterward. This morning, breakfast at their apartment then the trip home.

It was so nice to get away for a few days. The boarded pup was retrieved, dinner prepped and enjoyed, and the laundry will wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, my left eye will get it’s cataract surgery to improve my eye health and vision.

As usual, I packed more non clothing items than I needed by far, too many snacks, too much fiber, knitting I never touched. It is all put away now. Tonight we sleep in our own bed.


After a very cool, wet June, we have had two hot sticky days with no rain. More rain and cooler days ahead, but it has allowed walks without umbrellas or raincoats and being able to inspect my hives for the first time since I installed them. This is a very different experience than last year. The two medium boxes for brood on each hive are bursting with honey, eggs, and brood. So many bees. I added a queen excluder to each hive and a honey super on each in hopes of some fall honey. The sourwood is just beginning to bloom so they will be busy, the fields are full of daisies and since we haven’t had a mower in over two weeks, the lawn is full of white and red clover.

The shelf unit I put on the front porch with houseplants has a Wren nest tucked between pots. I think is was a practice nest as it hasn’t been occupied. I will leave it for a few more days before I remove it.

Walks have had some wildlife to see, yesterday a box turtle who didn’t seem to like the attention it was getting and today a caterpillar that has been parasitized with several eggs on it’s back.

The garlic pulled was brought in to the garage and hung in bundles to cure for storage. The garage smells very garlicy now and will until the leaves dry and the skins dry.

Since we live in a log home, we have had annual problems with Carpenter Bees. They drill holes in the facia boards and lay their eggs. That is less of a problem than once they hatch, the woodpeckers peck at the wood to get the larvae. This year the woodpeckers have been relentless, so we purchased 4 owls with a bell and mylar strip and hung them in strategic places hoping that they will discourage any more early morning pecking and stop the damage they are doing.

The month is fading away, July and August bring harvest and processing, a busy time.