Hazards of steep gravel roads and rain

Last week, VDOT spread crusher run gravel on the steep state maintained gravel road on which we live. On Thursday, we had heavy rain for several hours and all of the gravel uphill, washed down into the ditch above our driveway until the ditch was level with the roadgrade, filling our culvert so the rain had no diversion from running down our driveway. A couple of years after we moved in, we were having the area around the house regraded to smooth out rough areas that the contractor left and removing large rocks from behind the house. At the same time, we had the driveway regraded so that water would not run down and cause gully’s, we had a culvert installed under the driveway near the house to also redirect any water away from the house. When the upper culvert fills, the driveway takes a hit.

The last two photos are the ditch at the top of the driveway. I have made a telephone report and was told I would be texted a service report number which I never received. Today, I filled out the online form and hit submit and got a message the page did not exist and was redirected to their “new” form which I submitted. After dinner tonight, I went to work with the tractor and the grading blade we purchased a few years ago.

Most of the gullies are filled and leveled, but I won’t dig out the ditch, VDOT is going to have to do that, hopefully before it rains again. I’m too old to dig it out and the tractor bucket makes a ditch that is the wrong shape and doesn’t clear the culvert hole. It would be nice if they would dump some crusher run at the top of our driveway. Having a cattle grate there would help eliminate the problem, but then the motorcycle wouldn’t be able to get out. We will see when and if the state makes the repair.


Today would have been my Dad’s 97th birthday. A man who believed our world could address peace, he would be horrified at our current world state. As a young cadet at the University that is now Virginia Tech, a cadet by requirement then, he was called from school with his classmates to serve in Europe in WWII. Upon his return to college after the war, as a veteran, not having to be in the Cadet Corp, he met and married my Mom, lived on campus in an Airstream trailer park set up for returning vets who married. It was there that I came into their lives a month before he was to graduate. Class of 1943, actual graduation date, December 1947.

As an adolescent, my family joined my uncle and his family at an Conference Center in the mountains off the Shenandoah Valley and it started an annual pilgrimage to Shrine Mont until the year he passed from our lives at the age of 92. That trip often fell on the week of his birthday or the week following as it was always the first full week of August. Many birthday parties were held there with family and friends that gathered for a week each year. The August after his death, we as a family gathered again, toasted his life and the lives of the other’s from his generation that had gathered with us, all gone by then and we left his ashes in those mountains that he loved to hike.

The remaining children of that generation, when possible, continued the tradition and our children joining us at times. Baptisms, weddings, and memorials have been held in the outdoor stone chapel.

Not this year. The facility is operating on a limited scale, using only cottages with kitchens, families who can’t travel or visit for fear of passing or catching the pandemic virus are not able to join together this year. The 8 bedroom log cottage we shared not used because it doesn’t have a kitchen.

He stood proudly on those steps with his children, children in law, grandchildren, grandchildren in law, nieces and nephews. The last patriarch of that crew. We are much older now, but that is the last group photo I have from there and try as I might, I can’t place the year, maybe his 80th birthday so 17 years ago. A few of those people are gone, a lot more added. My stepmom is the Matriarch by marriage, I guess I am by birth, now only 7 years younger than he was in that picture.

I miss his wisdom, his wit, his corny jokes, his gentle, loving spirit. May he live on in all who loved him and all he loved.

Cucumbers and more cucumbers and rain and more rain

I finish one batch of fermented, quick brined, or canned cucumbers and another basket fills on the kitchen counter. I have had years when to have a cucumber or make a small batch of pickles, I have had to purchase them at the Farmers market for $5 a pint which only makes two pints of pickles. This year is a cucumber year. I have canned 5 3/4 pints of Spicy Bread and Butter, 6 pints of Garlic Dill (though one didn’t seal and is in the refrigerator), a gallon of Quick Brined Dills, 3 quarts of Fermented pickles. I will probably make one more batch of canned pickles. The refrigerator is filling.

Slowly, the tomatoes are ripening, but it doesn’t look like there will be a glut of them to can this year. Lots of greenery and plenty of tomatoes, but not huge quantities. The peppers are beginning to produce, except for the bell peppers that are competing for space with the cucumbers that refused to stay on the fence. I am nearing the point like you do with zucchini where I’m ready to cut the vines and give the other vegetables a better chance. We can only eat so many pickles.

The second planting of bush beans is blooming, so soon there will be fresh beans again, and the third planting germinated nicely. It is now August, and I need to think about how to plant a fall garden. The box has still not been repaired and nor the larger one built. It has either been hot as the gates of hell or pouring rain.

Last week, the department of transportation that maintains our gravel road dumped crusher run gravel on the road and didn’t run a roller over it. Night before last, it rained hard for hours. Yesterday we were going in to the library to return a book and pick up a hold for me and discovered that their efforts all washed downhill and filled the ditch at the top of our culvert to road level, totally blocking our culvert and causing the rain to wash down our driveway, destroying the upper third and causing significant gullies all the way to the bottom near the house. I called VDOT first thing yesterday, but they did not come out yet and it rained again last night and we have heavy rain forecast for tomorrow and Monday. Hubby is supposed to take his motorcycle in to the city on Thursday for inspection, oil change, and to see if the dealer is purchasing used bikes as he can no longer ride but for very short sessions. At this point, he can’t even get out. I will try to use the blade on the tractor to repair the worst of the damage, but there is no point until they open the ditch so rain doesn’t run down our driveway. With only 5 houses on the nearly mile long road and 3 more off the state maintained road that have to use it to get out, they will never Macadam surface it. Since they are unwilling to accept that the ditch is on the wrong side for much of the road and no culverts to direct it where it is a reverse swale, the problem will be ongoing. I don’t know the solution. We have graded, had gravel dumped, graded some more, raised a dam along the top edge of the culvert and a directional hump across the top of the driveway and nothing works when it rains hard enough to wash the road into the ditch. The two cars can bump and bounce over it, but the motorcycle can’t, it is tricky on the gravel even when it is well repaired.

The July spinning challenges are done. To end the month, there was a lottery for 18 spindles and because I completed the Tour de Fleece with all 23 scavenger items found and because I fulfilled the 15 minute challenge every day the next week, I got three entries. The winners will be posted this morning, and today marks the start of the usual monthly challenge to spin at least 25 grams of fiber only on Jenkins spindles during the month. I ordered some dyed Tunis for my rare breed credit, and some dyed Shetland with Mulberry Silk for my main spinning and emptied both spindles before dinner last night. I still had about 20 grams of the blue, yellow, and white Merino with Bamboo left and spun half of it last night on a different spindle and will finish the rest on that spindle today before I start my August Challenge. Most of it is plied on my wheel and as soon as I can finish this fiber, it will be plied to the rest and let to set for a day or two on the bobbin then wound off and washed.

Back to spindle spinning to finish the fiber.

Stay safe everyone.