Category Archives: Family time

Music Weekend Away – July 23, 2017

A delightful opportunity presented itself and we took it. Early Friday morning, we set off, grands staying with their Dad for the morning as he took the morning off, and the afternoon with their Mom who worked from home. Our destination, about 3 hours away for a weekend of music and each other’s company without any other responsibility. The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival opened on Friday with Arlo Guthrie and we had 10th row center seats. When we arrived at Shrine Mont prior to lunch we discovered that we had a second floor corner room just feet from Arlo’s bus and the Pavilion in which the concert would be held.
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This visit included a stellar concert, some time with my brother and his lovely wife, some nice meals, a short visit to the chapel where our children were baptized, our daughter was married, and where a memorial plaque is mounted on a stone wall for my Dad.

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Day two of our weekend, took us about an hour away to Big Meadows Lodge.  We have many fond memories there with our children when they were young, hiking during the day and going to listen to local music at night.  Our favorite musician from then was Charlie Mattox, an Art History Professor at James Madison University that performs  Appalachian folk music, old sea shanties, and other traditional songs.

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Unfortunately, we got there at 11:15 a.m. and couldn’t check in until 3 p.m., but the performer for the night was Charlie Mattox.  We had our lunch, sat in the lodge with our books, took a short drive on the Skyline Drive looking for wildlife, and finally could check in in time to take a short nap while the storms rolled in and heavy rain fell.

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Our room was tiny, dark, and stuffy on an interior hall in the main lodge but we didn’t have to venture out in the rain.  By the end of dinner, the rain had stopped though it was still overcast and we took a short walk in the Meadow, hoping to see deer.

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Wildflowers, interesting trees, lots of people, but no deer.  We drove back to the lodge in time to get a table right in front of Charlie.

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We had a fun evening listening to him and participating in his program as he encourages everyone to sing along.  It was not the same as when we had our children with us, but still a very enjoyable evening.

This morning we began our leisurely drive home along the Skyline Drive and down to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a total of about 80 miles of slow scenic travel, finally seeing the deer.

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Three doe and three spotted fawn just off the side of the Drive in the woods and as they are protected there from hunting, they are not skittish when you stop the car to take their photo.

We finally needed gas and lunch and got off the scenic byway to rejoin civilization and take care of those needs and proceed on home to put away our weekend suitcases.  It was a relaxing, music and scenery filled three days, arriving home to find daughter’s family had cleaned house, a bonus.

Whew, what a week – July 10, 2017

What a whirlwind the past week.  The garden has been neglected as the only time I was home to work on it, it was either raining or too hot to want my fair skin out in the sun.

Last Monday, eldest continued on the high lifter, staining high parts of the house while I worked on removing screens, staining the windows that tilt inside, passing supplies out the window from the upstairs to him on the lifter bucket.  We moved the lifter as night fell up to the gravel of the driveway before the predicted rain was due.

Tuesday, being Independence Day in the USA, the historic house, Smithfield House, where I go to spin in costume, held a 4 hour celebration of the day with hourly cannon fire, apple pie contest, reading of the Fincastle Resolution and the Declaration of Independence, re-enactors, the blacksmith, weavers, spinners, tours, and fun by all.

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Wednesday it rained and we stayed home with the grands, getting them to their evening Taekwondo classes.

Thursday, they were loaded in our car and off we drove east nearly 3 hours to meet youngest son and his family who drove west about 3 hours and met in Charlottesville to let the cousins play, us to get some snuggle time and to visit with our son and his wife for a late morning, lunch, and early afternoon before the trips were reversed back to our respective homes.

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The car time allowed knitting time as I rode passenger and good progress was made on the fingerless mitts to go with the Fiesta hat from the playful handspun yarn.  The second mitt was finished yesterday.  The set has been uploaded to my shop for sale.

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Friday was laundry and get my act together day as Saturday, Jim and I were taking off in opposite directions for the weekend.  He left on the BBH for a very long ride with his club.  They went way west in the state to various sights and parks and to overnight in a hotel in Norton, Virginia.  I got the groceries for the week purchased, brought home and put away and then took off north to eldest son’s house.  They were not home when I got there, though their car’s were, so I settled in the cool quiet and knitted on the second mitt and spun on a drop spindle.  Finished a novel I had been reading, but it wasn’t worth a review or the time spent reading it.

Sunday, their young one had archery day at the Isaac Walton League facility and I went with daughter in law to watch that while son went with another group from the league to pick up trash from the road into their community.  Sunday afternoon, son, young one, and I drove south about an hour and a half to the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriar’s theater to see Love’s Labors Lost in that wonderful setting, the second one that I have had the opportunity to see this summer.  We were fortunate to be seated on three of the Gallants’ stools, the 12 stools on the side edges of the stage.  It was such a great experience, being right there in the action, seeing the facial expressions, having lines spoken directly to you.

After a couple of days and nights away, a drive home early this morning to help with the summer’s swim lessons for the grands and back to the “normal” routine here, I am worn out.  As I went out to secure the hens and pullets near dark, my one little pullet that wants a nightly hug awaited me outside the coop.  In the several years of raising chickens, she is the first that wants to be handled.

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Though the rest of the week is supposed to be record hot, I hope to get the yard mowed, the chicken runs trimmed with the string trimmer, the garden weeded, the onions and garlic pulled and cured and perhaps some other veggies that may have matured in our week of travel and chaos.

Blue Skies and Garden Firsts – 6/27/17

The past week went so fast having eldest grandson here for a visit.  He spent his first years here as we watched him grow from 9 weeks to Kindergarten before they moved for schooling for Mom and Dad.  I see him more often than Jim as I will go up for days or a week or so at a time to help out with care.  He is so big now, soon to be as tall as I and he just turned 12.

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Many activities were planned, a day trip to Smith Mountain Lake Dam, a play day at the Frog Pond (a local pool with slides, basketball, and shallows for tiny people), basketball, ping pong , and a movie with dinner evening with Jim, lunches out, books to read, and lots of good food at home for a growing kid.  His Dad, our eldest, came Saturday in time for dinner and ping pong with the young one, and Sunday, son climbed the 28′ extension ladder and got a good portion of the very exposed west wall of our log home re-stained.  They left after dinner Sunday to return to their home for a work and camp week.  Son is returning alone this weekend with hopes to finish that wall and the south upper dormer.

Friday night, daughter’s family returned from their vacation and resumed their house hunting, possibly finding one that will allow their kids their own bedrooms and a start of the school year in their new home.

For the next few of weeks, the grands are in our care during the day with some swimming lessons scheduled soon, transport twice a week to Taekwondo to meet parents.

The weather has cooled and dried out for the past few days.  This morning, a much needed garden session was done with some tomato brutality as I cut suckers that should have been cut before now and the plants tied to their stakes.  Last year there was a huge mess as a new support structuring was tried and failed miserably with many lost tomatoes as they were on the ground for the pill bugs to attack and hidden for purposes of harvest.  This year, there will be only one main stem per plant, determinate varieties, and tied regularly to garden stakes until they reach their full height.  The process revealed many small green tomatoes and one that is already ripening.

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Tied and before the cut stems were removed.

Today there was a first sunflower set against the prettiest blue sky.

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I’m not sure that any of the sunflowers that I planted are going to produce.  The two volunteers may be all we get unless I can get some seedling going soon.

Last night, preparation for the two days of camp that I will be teaching was begun.  One day will be a plant walk, herbal medicine discussion, and making of an herbal salve to take home.  The other day, with my friend that worked with me last year, we will again teach some fiber arts with homemade drop spindles that they get to keep, a chance at using one of our spinning wheels with help to make a necklace with “their” yarn, and a chance to weave a few rows on a rigid heddle loom.

The haying for this year is done and the hay scattered around our fields like big sedentary buffalo.  Farmer Jeff came by as I was mowing a few days ago to pick up a piece of his haying equipment and it always amuses me to see his behemouth tractor with my tractor beside it.  Mine looks so small, though it is a full size, but small tractor.  Pictures of them together in the header.

I love summers in our mountain home.

The Adventure – June 18, 2017

The backpacking trip with eldest son and family was to commence on Friday, but a necessary trip to town and persistent rain causes us to postpone and redo our itinerary to leave on Saturday morning with only one night in the woods.  The trip plan had us hiking 8 to 10 miles each day, returning late this afternoon.

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All packed up and at the trailhead, preparing to hike up from the their town to the Skyline Drive, across and down to a shelter to prepare lunch, rest, and then move on.

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Entering the park.

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It was very humid in the morning, hiking into the clouds,  All day, along the trail, we spotted these tiny red efts, the immature stage of the Eastern Spotted Newts.  A few toads, a number of large deer, verbal warning of a bear ahead though we didn’t see it.

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A pensive moment by daughter in law at a trail side rest break, much needed especially by son who carried a car camping tent for his family, a car camping sleeping bag, the main cookware and eating utensils for his family, and all of the food for us except for an emergency ration and snacks each that we carried.  His pack was entirely too heavy for him to carry and before we try this again, he is going to get them a lighter tent and bags.  My pack is an ultralight and with my solo backpacking tent and backpacking bag, even with second alcohol stove, fuel, and a smaller cookpot, and water my bag was reasonable.  Daughter in law had her sleeping pad, water, sleeping bag, some emergency gear and clothes for son and her. Grandson without an appropriate backpack, used a school pack with a hip belt with an ultralight summer weight sleeping bag I brought him, his sleeping pad, and a change of clothes with his water and snacks.

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The trail was really backcountry and not well maintained, so there was a lot of poison ivy and some tall brush. Because it was backcountry, and the trail followed a contour line, there were few places to set up camp and the one we sought had several tents of young men already set up,  we stopped down from them to prepare and eat our dinner so we wouldn’t cook in our campsite.  We moved on to another potential site to find it overgrown with nettles and poison ivy.  At that point, we had hiked about 12 miles, were all worn out from the climb up to the ridge, then down to the contour to hike, then back up to the ridge. The lack of a place to camp, the quickly falling night put us in a dilemma that resulted in son hitchhiking off the Skyline Drive, grabbing a cab in town to get home to get a car and return to the Drive to pick us up.

A very long day, a good hike, a failed backpacking experience though we carried the packs, we arrived back to hot showers, tick checks, and real beds last night.  Today everyone is tired and sore, but my knees survived, other than sore muscles and a bruised bum from falling off the wet, slick outhouse ramp where we stopped for lunch, I feel good about being able to still carry the pack and hike that distance in a day.

What a day! 6-12-2017

Typically the rising sun and lighting morning sky is my wake up call.  Laziness until absolutely necessary is the routine, but while helping out at eldest son’s, my bed is a cot and though it is comfortable enough for sleep, it isn’t conducive to lounging about so the morning began around 6 when they got up to go to work.  Having been away for a few days with no rain while they were gone, the plants and seedlings on the porch needed watering and the vegetable garden was dry.  The porch plants were an easy fix.  After they were done, a leisurely bowl of cereal, fruit, and yogurt and a cup of coffee were enjoyed sitting on the porch by the creek, listening to the burble of the water against the rocks while the young one slept in having arrived home very late last night from his birthday celebration with his other grandparents many hours from here.

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An attempt was made to do the garden, but a shoe packing failure meant that I spun barefoot yesterday and couldn’t get in the creek to get water today, not wanting to wade in my Birkenstocks or hiking shoes.  Daughter in law’s boots are too large for me, so I waited.  The young one finally got up and a trip the 15 miles or so into town to fill up my car with gas, get a few groceries, especially dairy and meat, and to seek a pair of sandals that could get wet, were comfortable, and not expensive was planned.

We got across the bridge and almost to the shoe shop when braking, my car made a metal on metal grinding noise.  Knowing this wasn’t normal and certainly not good, we headed back toward home, but stopped to call son for a mechanic reference in the town.  Fortunately, the indy shop was able to take my car right in, assist me to get a rental car from across town so that we could get the groceries home and not have to figure out how to spend several hours in the 90º heat, and diagnose the problem as a rear brake issue on the back right side.  The groceries made it home, the water sandals allowed me to step into the edge of the creek to reach a spot deep enough to fill a 5 gallon bucket and the garden got watered after a dozen or so trips from the creek to the garden.  By then I was wilted and ready for a meltdown.

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There is a big rock in the middle of the creek and there I sat in the shade with my feet in the cool water until a big crawfish decided my toes looked delicious.  A cool shower to wash off the mud and sweat and a couple of bottles of water refreshed me.

The shop got my car fixed in under 4 hours without putting us in bankruptcy, the rental car was returned and the young one and I returned home. That was the shortest car rental I have ever done, but the cab fare here and back would have been more than the rental and they picked me up at the shop and returned me to the shop when my car was ready.

It has finally cooled down to a reasonable temperature.  Dinner is prepared and awaiting the arrival of son and daughter in law and we will eat.

I am glad my car is back, she is 13 years old this month and has over 200,000 miles on her.  I hope to keep her on the road for much longer.

Easter

It brought egg dyeing for the kids, with the eggs that our hens produced.

Egg dyeingBaskets with Play Dough eggs, jump ropes, some eggs filled with coins, and a few other small gifts, a family board game.

Lilacs in bloom, a few cut to add to the tulips and other small flowers on the table.

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The table is set for ham, au gratin potatoes, deviled eggs, rolls, and a green veggies.  We were hoping for enough asparagus from the garden, but not yet.

Enjoy your family today.

 

 

Family Worn Out

An early start sent Jim off on the BBH to a ride, a funeral for a Hog member, and a class in preparation for the big 5 state rally that his chapter is hosting.

A bit of laundry washed and hung out, a trip into town with daughter’s family to get cat food and lunch together and then we returned home to plant trees.  They gave us an Arbor Day membership for Christmas and that comes with 10 trees.  They came a couple of weeks ago and were all deciduous trees that had to be nurseried for a couple of years before planting in their permanent places.  They are the ones that I built an extra garden box for them to live in for the two years.  That I managed on my own, then this week, the ones they ordered for us came.  A dozen various fir trees, Norway Spruce, Canadian Hemlock, and Eastern Red Cedars, a 4 foot red maple, and two Forsythia slips.  The firs needed to be planted where they will grow as they don’t transplant well.  There is a windbreak row of pines that eldest son and I planted about 9 or 10 years ago that were Earth Day twigs and are now 8 to 15 foot trees, but there are some holes in the windbreak and some holes up where we have planted live rooted Christmas trees and lost one.  There are some areas of the property that we consider yard and don’t save for hay that we have worked to reforest.  A contribution to reducing our carbon footprint.

The 5 of us (grands wanted to help dig), set out with the tractor, a couple shovels, a garden fork, a maddock, the bucket of tiny trees in water, and another bucket with water.  The maple was planted in the row of deciduous trees and then we extended the windbreak, filled in holes where trees didn’t take, moved up to the Christmas tree area and spaced out 4 others.  A total of 15 holes were dug, 15 areas cleared of sod, 15 trees and shrubs planted and watered in.  Each young tree is marked with a 4 foot pole and bright green marker flag so they don’t get mowed down when the grass grows up around them.  That took us a good bit of time.

Near one of the trees was an area that was impossible to mow, a low, partially covered rock pile.  For the past several early springs, I have loaded bucket loads of rock from that pile thinking that I was getting it low enough to mow.  We decided to finish moving the pile and man oh man it was a job bigger than we anticipated.  The pile was more extensive and deeper than appeared possible.  We moved 15 or 20 tractor buckets full of rock, used the tractor bucket to dig up at least a dozen rocks that were so large that they could only be rolled into the bucket to remove them.  Though the area is now torn up, it is rock free and smoothed as well as the tractor and our hands could manage.  I think it is going to be an area that can be mowed with the brush hog this summer.

The only remaining big job is the chick pen fence and we still have about 4 weeks to do it.  Tomorrow is going to be rainy and windy and this senior body is likely to be too sore to do much physical anyway.

I am grateful to daughter and her family for all of their hard work and help today and for getting us the trees to help with our project. Hopefully the little trees will thrive and grow quickly.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at the Smithfield House at volunteer training.  Hopefully within a few weeks, I will be doing interpretative tours at the house as well as spinning on the dates that have been scheduled for it.  I think I learned more history yesterday than I ever learned in school.

Olio-Week’s End, February 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been an emotional wreck.  The grandson that lives with us is with his Mom, Sister, and “Dad.”  His biological father lived in Florida and without sharing details, passed away on Wednesday afternoon.  Grandson had been told about a week before that he wasn’t doing well and couldn’t talk on the phone on the scheduled day, but it was still very hard news for him to take and for daughter to have to deliver to him.  They are awaiting information on the service so they can go down and let the young man be there.  It is hard,  he is 10, and as my sister reminded me, children his age are still too young to fear death, though I’m sure he will have his share of tough moments over the next few weeks.  I still do over my Dad’s passing and it has been 14 months.

The week has been up and down with the weather as well, and the changes are causing allergy symptoms for some in the house, weather related headaches for others, and confusion for the animals as they go out to freezing wind one day and temperatures that invite playing in the creek the next.  Each day is a debate of what to wear, the uniform has become a short sleeve t shirt with a sweatshirt or fleece over it, a parka added if necessary.  Gloves stay in pockets when needed.  Some days, the layers stay on, some days peel down to the t shirt.

If we hadn’t had to cancel our ski trip, we would have arrived home late last night from a week in Colorado.  We missed not only the skiing, but also the company of our cousins who are wonderful hosts when we visit them.  Instead of sharing our anniversary dinner with them as we did 4 years ago, we just enjoyed each other’s company at one of the finer restaurants in town, a great 4 course meal that was delicious.

Last night, the cowl that was being knit from the silk that I had spun was finished.  It is beautiful and is blocked and drying.

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The weekend approaches, our usual breakfast and Farmers Market Saturday, tomorrow and more vendors are beginning to return with early greens, so good food will be had next week.

My spinning is improving on my little antique spinning wheel.

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Generally it doesn’t throw the drive band, but the upright nearest the spinner still moves some and causes the wheel to skew and throw the band.  The next time it jumps off, the upright is going to be wrapped in a few rounds of waxed hemp thread to see if that will tighten it enough to hold its position.  The peg under the table also needs to be forced in tighter to help.  The missing part for the new antique walking wheel is being made and when it returns, another learning curve for me as a spinner.  Also improvement is noted with the support spindle that we got last weekend.

How do I show it?

Today is our 39th anniversary.  We met less than a year before we married and waited only a short 6 weeks between engagement and the wedding.  That was 6 weeks of a sling on my left arm holding a separated shoulder in place and recovery.  It has been a wonderful 39 years, raising 3 children, seeing them have children for us to love, buying a couple of houses and building our retirement home.

We tend to indulge each other’s wants when the finances allow.  If he is asked what he wants for a gift giving opportunity, he is reticent to provide ideas, and there have been few occasions where he was surprised.  We usually get each other items that are suggested or in his case, dragged out of him, so gift giving is rarely a surprise anyway.

There were no plans to do more than the token card and dinner out tonight, but the weekend brought me the new to me antique Walking Wheel spinning wheel.  It didn’t have to come home with us, but he bought it for me for our anniversary and Valentine’s Day.  That gift can’t be reciprocated in kind, so what is one to do.  The one thing he wants is to not be feeling the arthritis in his back that is causing him several issues and has curtailed several activities he enjoys.  I can’t give him that, I am not a doctor or a miracle worker, though I wish I could provide him relief.

My gift to him today is to publicly let the world know that he has been and continues to be the best husband, friend, and love of my life that I could have asked for.  He is a wonderful father, a loving grandfather, wise and caring. He has a sense of humor that sometimes I miss, sometimes I want to miss.  I want him to know that I will do whatever I can to support him emotionally, to love him unconditionally and to let the world know that he is the best ever.

I love you babe!  Forever! Want 39 more?