Category Archives: Family time

Wrapping Done . . . well almost

Today was wrapping day.  The guest bed was getting out of control with the unwrapped gifts.  At the end of the year last year, the wrapping supplies were purchased half off and a new storage bin to keep it unwrinkled and dust free had been added just before the holidays.  I tend to use a lot of the cute reuseable boxes and no paper, just line them with tissue and tape or tie with curling ribbon.  The store boxes or gifts that come in their own box are wrapped with seasonal paper, taped, tagged and sorted by family.  Youngest son’s family gifts were mailed last week, so they had been done first, boxed in a large recycled box and UPS’d to them.

Eldest son and grandson will be here Christmas morning, so their gifts are stacked on the bed.  Daughter’s family gifts are bagged and awaiting delivery.


I’m still awaiting one gift in the mail that will have to be wrapped and hubby is notorious for waiting until a day or two before Christmas and coming home with items that need to be wrapped at the last minute for grandkids.  At least most of it is done.

One gift this year is special.  About 8 years ago, I knit a heavy wool sweater for eldest son.  That sweater was one of my first, it never fit him very well and was altered to try to make it fit better, but then it got felted by a couple of machine washings.  The sweater has been sitting in a basket at my house for over a year awaiting a new life.  It was given a new life this Christmas as my daughter by love’s new art tote as she is a student at the Corcoran School of Art.  I hope it serves her well.



Now to get a tree, finish knitting a pair of socks and knit a pair of toddler socks and I will be done, I hope.

Traditions and Memories

Our daughter was due the day before my birthday 31 years ago, but she  lingered until November 29.  I would never decorate for Christmas until the weekend after Thanksgiving, but with that birthday, sometimes Thanksgiving came the day after my birthday, which meant I could technically begin decorating on November 22, but once daughter was old enough to realize, she made an edict that we couldn’t decorate for Christmas until after her birthday. I would sometimes put the outdoor wreaths up before, but would otherwise wait and still do.

As I started pulling out boxes, the reminiscing began. My sister in law quilts and cross stitches and many of the decorations were made by her.

One of my dear friends has given me many hand crafted gifts over the years.

When our children were young each Christmas my hubby would help them buy a Santa or village piece to add to the collection. My favorite Santas and the only ones out so far, are Tom Clark gnomes.

As I handle and place each piece I am flooded with memories of Christmas past and anticipate Christmas futures with our grandkids. Due to scheduling, the tree with it’s collection of a dated ornament for each year of our life together will have to wait for another weekend.


Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving.  In our family, it is a time for family, falling between my birthday and my daughter’s and her daughter was born on Thanksgiving Day two years ago.  When our children were young and still at home and we still lived on Virginia’s east coast, my Dad and I took turns hosting Thanksgiving dinner, including as many family members as we could.

This year, my Dad and stepmom are in the midst of a kitchen rebuilt due to a dishwasher leak and the discovery of old asbestos floor tiles, so they will be having dinner at my stepsister’s house.  Our daughter and her family spent last Thanksgiving here from Florida, we recently spent two weeks with our youngest son and his family.  Our eldest son and his family are currently on a bus travelling here from Northern Virginia to spend tomorrow with us.

Yesterday, it rained and rained and rained after an ice storm the night before and today it is snowing.  We are hopeful that this weather doesn’t impact their travels.  The preparation for a turkey dinner with all the fixings was begun and the house was cleaned up to help reduce son’s allergy to the dogs.


The pumpkin pies made with the last pumpkin, cooked and frozen last winter.  The fixings are all in the house and we are awaiting their arrival.

The chickens were let out this morning, poked heads out of the coop and drew back in.  We are experiencing very high winds and the morning temperature of 31f was the day’s high, it has been blowing and plummeting all day.  Normally, I don’t have food or water in their coop to keep the rodents from visiting, but today I took pity and though the pop door is open and they can go outside, they are holed up with food and water indoors.



We wish you a happy Thanksgiving from our farm to your home.

Home at last

The journey finally ends.  After waking early, closing the suitcase for the last time on this trip, packing up the laptop, rolling the sleeping pad as I sleep on the floor in daughter in law’s studio when babysitting in NoVa, I fixed breakfast for grandson, took son to campus and headed for home.  Son had told me that I would head northwest from his campus and not have to backtrack to I-66.  This seemed like a good idea, giving me less time on the interstate.  However, the Gods were against me making it home in a timely manner.  As I pulled up the ramp onto the interstate, traffic was dead stopped as far as I could see to the west so I went right back down the off ramp and took off in a westerly direction on an unknown rural road.  About 30 minutes later, I rejoined the interstate, clear of the accident or traffic blockage and traveled smoothly along for the next couple of hours.


As I approached the midway point of the trip, two interstates intersect and as I approached this area, an electronic warning board announced that I-81 S that I was on was totally blocked a few miles ahead.  I rounded a curve, fortunately at an off ramp and sure enough, nothing but stopped traffic as far as I could see.  Off again on a rural road looking for an alternate route home.  Somehow, though no one seemed to be following me, a 20 minute jaunt through a rural part of the Shenandoah Valley, I spotted State Rd. 11, an alternate north/south route.  Knowing this route would get me past what turned out to be a tractor trailer accident, I finally made my way the rest of the way home, about an hour and a half later than I expected.




During the 21 days gone, autumn, which was not very pretty this year left.  The trees are barren, the garden gone, but the garlic did arrive and one last day will be spent getting it in the ground and mulched for next year’s crop.

An Outing

The morning dawned gray and quite chilly.  Son was sluggish, but with a day of teaching to do, he mounted his bike to ride either to the campus or to the Metro station to catch the University Shuttle over to campus.  Daughter in law has hours to put in on a piece of art due for a class tomorrow, but was slow moving to get to her campus.  Grandson, who had the day off from school was up at the crack of dawn and stayed in the shower so long that I finally poked my head in the bathroom and asked him to turn off the water, so that the rest of us would have some hot water, then he snuggled under a towel on the floor of his bedroom until his Dad got up and asked him to please dress.  The apartment is cool.  They, like us, keep the thermostat low to keep their hard earned dollars out of the hands of the local power company and sweaters indoors are in order when the temperatures outdoors are low.

Once they left for their respective campus, grandson completed his homework with my supervision and practiced his guitar in preparation for his lesson later this week.  We discussed how we wanted to spend this gloomy day, not just sitting inside.  We agreed that a metro trip into the district was in order with the American History Museum the goal.  First we needed to go mail a package to his cousins then decided to try to park at the Metro station instead of making the mile plus walk over to it.  The garage lot indicated it was not full, but once in, it costs you a daily rate of $4.75 to get out.  We took our chance and after driving every aisle on every deck twice, passing the same half dozen other cars looking for spots, decided that the garage was indeed full in spite of the sign and paid the fee to leave.  The only other parking near the Metro station was a quarter for 15 minutes up to the limit of the meter, but the meter did not tell you what that limit was and I was unwilling to start feeding it quarters only to find out that the limit would be insufficient for us to make the round trip and see anything once we got there.

The other possible outing was to drive to Great Falls National Park, about 20-30 minutes away and check out the Potomac River gorge there, tour the visitor center and walk one of the paths through the woods along the side of the river.  Three years ago, hubby and I both got Lifetime Passes to any National Park, available to seniors for a nominal fee.  Prior to our cruise, we each emptied our wallets of all “extra” cards, to avoid their loss while on the trip.  This card, sitting in my drawer at home, would have saved us the entry fee into the park, but the fee was a small price to pay for an outing with the eldest grandson.  He is 8, an age of motion, fearlessness, and a desire to climb.  It was fun watching him climb around on the rocks safely within the barrier walls, reminding him off and on to read the signage that implored him to not climb the railings or walk on the remnants of the C & O canal walls.   Though we didn’t stay but about 90 minutes, he did expend some energy and I got some photos of the gorge and the grand enjoying the visit.



Entering the overlook that gives the best view of the falls, which we were told drop about 80 feet was this sign.


This sign was about 10 feet tall. Each number represents the year and the height of flood waters, that would put the water above the banks of the gorge with a total depth of 90 to 100 feet.  The immensity of the volume and power of the water in those floods stages must be staggering.  Oddly, the visitor center is within a flood stage depth that has occurred within the past 20 years.

Tomorrow, my 21 days away from home finally comes to an end.  I will leave Northern Virginia when they all leave for school around 8 a.m. and will drive to our home, my own bed and the comfort of our own home.  I have enjoyed the past 21 days, but I am looking forward to that.

Still Away


Today is day 17 of suitcase living.  Leaving home 17 days ago with a suitcase packed for a cruise, a backpack packed for the week of fall weather in Virginia Beach and the half week of even cooler fall weather in Northern Virginia and my laptop, and a large leather tote style bag that serves as my travel tote with knitting, necessary papers, a lotion bar, anti inflamatory meds, anti seasickness meds, and antacids, just in case, a camera plus a paper back book.  The backpack remained in Virginia Beach during the cruise and after the return week there, the suitcase was relieved of its summery cruise clothing which were sent home with hubby and repacked with the fall clothing.  The backpack, then lightened to the laptop and the newly acquired bag of fiberfill as my knitting projects are finger puppets to go along with two story books for the 2 year old granddaughters for Christmas.  The two stories have 5 of the same animals in them, so there will be two of each of them, then 3 other animals must be completed to make the two sets complete.  They are quick knits, however, the first was done while I was a passenger in the car and my attention was not there, so it ended up looking less like a rabbit than I had hoped.  It was knit from my homespun which I feel contributed to it being less than perfect.  Today, while entertaining grandson, we went to a local yarn shop and bought a small ball of commercial cream colored yard to make rabbit # 2.  The first Badger seems the correct scale and Badger #2 is on the needles.  The girls should have fun with their puppets and their new books.



I realized after two weeks of suitcase living, first on shipboard, then in son’s home that I am definitely a homebody.  Not pathologically so, not to the extent of not wanting to leave the house, but certainly becoming more uncomfortable about the absence from home each day.

Retirement is quiet, the daily routines have become so ingrained that each passing day away has increased the stress on my system.

It was fun going on a cruise with son and his family and being there for Halloween and our grandson’s birthday. This is the first birthday since our son adopted his stepson.
This morning, hubby left to return to our home, to pick up our pups from the doggie camp where they have been for two weeks, to take over my chicken care for a few days. I left for Northern Virginia to help out with childcare as the eldest grandson is off of school for the next two days while his parents are not. On Wednesday morning, I too will get return to our quiet life for a while. While gone, there have been two nights of temperatures in the 20’s, so whatever was left in the garden is now gone. The garlic that was to be planted before the trip did not come prior to our leaving, hopefully it will have come while we were gone and there will be one last garden day to put it in the beds for the winter with a heavy mulch of straw to bed it down.

Kid in a candy store


A couple of weeks ago, hubby took a motorcycle safety and driver test class while I went to play in two friends yarn shops and to take in the scenery along the Blue Ridge Parkway. He passed and really wanted his first bike to be a Harley. Wiser, more experienced rider friends urged him to get a lesser bike until he felt very comfortable on a bike and tonight he purchased his new toy, a 2005 Honda Rebel with low mileage. He is as happy as a kid in a candy store.

The Visit

Eldest son and our eldest grandson, his 8 year old arrived today for the long weekend. He came to slaughter the 15 stinking meat chickens that I have been raising for the past 9 weeks.
We all took a pleasant walk on our neighbor’s much larger farmland, through the woods and across his cattle pastures with a stop to chat with him, watching one of his cows who appeared maybe to be in labor, then home for a Mexican fiesta, a favorite of hubby and son.
I had been frustrated, not able to print a pdf knitting pattern that I had purchased online and his computer ability corrected that problem, finally made my printer wireless for both of our laptops and found and downloaded the driver for the laser printer, so that is also an option for my use on my Windows 8 laptop.
While he was being our computer technical guru, I wound a skein of yarn designated for a baby sweater, only to have it kink up and then sat and hand wound the same skein, unkinking all of the knots. Now I’m set to start knitting again and can print wirelessly from my recliner.

Best Laid Plans

This weekend we have house guests. They arrived last evening in time for dinner.  I like to cook, I especially like to cook for guests and had planned my menu with care, HA!

We had made a Wednesday trip to the Farmer’s Market for beef and pork, for corn, squash and beans with the two dinners in mind. I already had sausages from the Farmer’s Market in the freezer and local buckwheat for breakfast pancakes. 

The plan was for drunk beef kabobs with our, onions and peppers, and the purchased squash, grilled to perfection. A side of corn on the cob and a platter of our just picked sliced tomatoes and this years dill pickles.  For dessert I was making an apple pie.  The meat marinated all day. The first snafu came when I peeled and sliced the apples and they didn’t fill my smallest pie pan, hmmm…
That crisis was solved by making a large apple tart by folding the apple mix in one crust, sealing the edges and baking it on the pizza stone.  Veggies were cut in chunks and the corn shucked and washed. The skewers were threaded. Guests arrived and we sat around visiting a with crackers, cheese and a beer or glass of wine.  Finally time to grill thd kabobs and cook the corn. Hubby went out to light the old faithful gas grill and snafu number 2. 


We had noticed that her inner working had gotton a bit rusty this summer with all the rain, but she worked fine a week or so ago. I guess moving her to mow jiggled some rusted part on the burner pipe, so instead of a burner of flame we had a fountain of flame.  Plan 2, turn on the broiler in the oven, but wait, this high end GE marvel didn’t come with a broiler pan.  A bit of improvising and dinner turned out quite delicious, enjoyed on the back deck, only the third time this summer because it was always raining or the cushions were wet every time we planned on eating there.