Tag Archives: family time

Sunday Was Not A Day of Rest – 7/16/18

The young one was still complaining of a belly ache and spent the day resting and sleeping on the couch in the midst of the household chaos.  He and his granddad, who also didn’t feel well were the only ones who rested and worked at recovery.

Sausage gravy and biscuits were made, but only son and I ate them. Daughter and her two littles arrived just before 10 a.m. with a flat of jars.  Everyone was Deep Woods Off sprayed, given pails of varying description and off we went to pick enough berries to make a batch of jam.  The littlest, almost 7 year old ate everything she picked.  The eleven year old ate about half of what he picked, but daughter and I were able to accumulate enough berries that after we picked over them and crushed them, we had almost 8 cups, enough for about a double recipe of wildberry jam.  While the jars heated in the canner, sandwiches were made for all who wanted one and once that was out of the way, the berry jam was started, jarred, and water bathed.

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We ended up with eight 12 oz jars of wildberry jam for her.  One was left uncanned, back left for them to begin enjoying and so it didn’t have to be canned in two batches.  My water bath canner holds 7 narrow mouth pints, the big pressure canner holds 10, but it also tends to bubble over when you fill it an inch above the lids to water bath, so we only canned 7 for her pantry shelves and one she took home in hand to put in the refrigerator.  The remaining 7 will be taken over to her house today along with a hat that was left behind.

About two years ago, the top boards on our large south facing deck began to decay and I put a foot through a board one day while out watering deck plants.  In an attempt to keep with the green building theme that we had adopted while building the house, the deck was built with borate treated wood instead of pressure treated wood and we later found out that it should be under roof to make it last.  It isn’t under roof, it gets wet and it bakes, getting too hot to enjoy on a summer day.  We began replacing the rotting boards with pressure treated ones, but then it became apparent a year ago that the entire top needed replacing and we began looking into Trex or one of it’s competitors for durability and so it didn’t have to be restained every couple of years.  Deconstruction was begun but with his schedule, it sat over the winter.  His wife worked on it some while she was here farm sitting in February, and he attacked it yesterday with intent. To help speed things along, I joined him to stack boards that were to be burned, removed nails, screws, and brackets from boards.  Also I was cutting boards to a length to fit in a burn barrel and cutting out sections that were still sound, though they were few and far between, most of the boards are rotted to mulch consistency.  Unfortunately, removing the boards, we realize that the joists are also bad for the top couple of inches, so it looks like we will be starting over.  I hate this for son, he built the deck for us, reinforcing it with hurricane brackets and making it solid and large and we enjoyed it for about a decade.  As the day wore on, with us working together in the heat (both of us are fair, so it is long pants, long sleeves, and broad brimmed hats, we made good progress.

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The section with no top used to be about a third again larger to the left of what you see, so most of the top boards are gone except just in front of the dining room doors and the joists for part of the large part of the deck are down.

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Flipping the boards to remove nails and screws revealed some interesting life forms.  This is a fungi, I guess.  It was about the size of a quarter, some others like it were smaller, but they looked like sea anemones that looked like they should be swaying in the ocean.

 

We finally quit around 4, so he could pack up his car and take the still ailing grandson home.  We took them into town for a bowl of Chinese hand pulled noodle soup and sent them on their way.

Once home, sore and tired, but fed, the weekend pickles making results were shelved.

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So pretty to look at and enjoy when we need a jar of jam or pickles.  The ferment was tasted and it is delicious, it was refrigerated this morning.  As soon as there are more cucumbers and jalapeños to pick, another jar will be started.  It is about time to start this year’s kraut, I sent the last jar home with son as they eat more of it than do we and it only takes a few days to ferment.  I think I will wait for the ferment weights to arrive to help hold it in it’s own brine though.

Today, I really am going to rest.  I am running on fumes and need some stiff sore muscles to have a chance to recover.  Yesterday’s expected rain never happened, today’s chance has dropped from an almost sure thing to it may not happen.  The flowers and garden are getting too dry, it is hot and brittle.  We need some rain.

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.

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.

A Bitter Sweet End

Sixty one years ago, when I was still a pre-adolescent, my family joined my aunt and uncle at the most beautiful place on earth for a week of vacation.  That turned into an annual tradition and as the families grew and met other families, it became a much anticipated gathering.  It is a place where many of the clan’s children and grandchildren were baptized and  weddings held.

Last year was the last year that my Dad made it to this lovely place alive, the last of the elders of that gathering.  The place is Shrine Mont.  This past week, many of us gathered in the same 8 room cottage to be together, commune in nature, and inter my Dad’s ashes in his favorite place on earth.  My stepmom, husband, and I are the oldest members of this surviving clan.  A daughter of one of the non related families came to visit for a day.  It was a gathering of my siblings, some of our children, and grandchildren, one cousin, and another daughter of yet another of the non related families.  As the elders of that group passed, the group fell away and we have not kept in touch with all of the other offspring as closely as we should, but many come back the first full week of August each year.  We all knew that last year would be the last time he saw Shrine Mont, though none of us wanted to accept that.  He even conceded to being driven down the hill to meals and back up to the cottage afterwards.  At 92, he was afraid to hike or walk the unpaved rough trails. Though his mind and wit stayed keen to the end, he needed some help playing cribbage, a game he loved and taught so many of us to play.

We visited, went through many envelopes of old photos, taking from them many memories, played cribbage and ping pong.  We had a toast to the elder fathers of the group that brought us together and who annually conducted a “scientific experiment” on which of the 7 springs had the best water as a mixer with a bottle of Jack Daniels Black label.  We held a teary memorial dedication for the bronze plaque permanently affixed to the stone wall around the memorial garden with his brother and sister-in-law and 5 of the other members of the elders clan, and we hiked to the top of the mountain to the cross on a tower to say our final goodbye.  This was a hike we had made dozens of times over the years with him.  Those that couldn’t hike it were taken up in a Gator and a Jeep.  Tears were shed, his favorite songs were sung, hugs were shared, and we said our goodbyes, leaving him in a beautiful spot he loved.

As my niece (who was unable to join us) stated in a post, we will smile and feel his presence as we cross the places where we share his memory.

Though it was miserably hot last week with hot humid days and no air conditioning, we were given permission to light the first fire in the new outdoor fireplace on the lawn, and we cooked hot dogs and roasted marshmallows as we have done for years in the cottage fireplace on cool evenings.  I’m sure he smiled down on us and asked for one cooked just right.

(I have deliberately not posted any photos from the week, as it was a personal, family time, but if you click the link above and linger on the site, you can see this wonderful spot.)

A Week On The Farm May 14,, 2016

This was the last week of exams and graduation at the University in town.  The event swells the population of town for a few days before the massive exodus and quiet of the summer.  Trying to go anywhere in town during the past few days has been an adventure.  Undergraduate Commencement Ceremonies were are 8:30 a.m. yesterday morning and even trying to get granddaughter to preschool was a challenge.  Many of the families started clearing out today.  After we had a family day in the gardens today during and between rain showers, we decided that we wanted to go to Mellow Mushroom for pizza and a good beer.  When we arrived at about 7 p.m., we were the 11th party of 5 to check in thus it would be a 90 to 120 minute wait, with a tired 4 year old and a nine year old.  We bailed and went down the street to a local Italian Restaurant, were seated immediately and got a good pizza, just not the one we had set out to get.

This morning, bright and early, Jim took off on his BBH motorcycle and met 25 other bikes from the Roanoke Hog group for an overnight ride into West Virginia for a “Hillbillie Hotdog”  Yup, it is a real place.  They have other stops to visit during their two day ride, dealt with some real rain but he seems to be having fun.  I took off not long after him and made the weekly run to the Blacksburg Farmers Market, coming home with lots of vegetables, a bouquet of flowers, some bread and bagels, and some sausages.  Another stop at the local Super Value market for some local pasture raised beef and a weekly run to the grocer for the items that fill lunch boxes and make snacks for the kids.

After our grocery run, K and I tackled the garden.  I have been lacking in the motivation to get out there and get a handle on the overgrowth of Lambs Quarters, that were so thick, it looked like I had sown it as a cover crop.  Every time I have had the time to go out, it has rained.  We toughed some showers, increasing wind, and a drop in temperature, but we succeeded in getting the two beds that are already fully or partially planted with garlic, onions, radishes, Lacinato kale, turnips, peas, chard, and cabbages cleared.  Two paths were cleared and the grands came out.  With all of us working, we finished pulling the weeds in the upper part of the garden.

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The lower garden is still a mess.

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We have two nights in the 30’s then I will get the peppers, cucumbers, and beans planted, then attack this part of the garden for the popcorn, pumpkins, and Anasazi beans.  I still need to find a place for the sweet potatoes and get some flowers planted.

We made our first harvest today.

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A handful of Easter Egg radishes.

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Broody Momma, let herself get removed from the nest a few days ago by another hen who laid her egg then left.  In the meantime, Broody Momma moved to the nest with that day’s eggs in it.  We moved her back over 10 eggs, hoping that they didn’t sit unwarmed for too long.  She hasn’t been bothered for a few days, so we aren’t sure how many she has under her or if they are viable.  If they are, we should have a brood of chicks around Memorial Day.

It has been a good week, but wet.  I have succeeded in getting my 10,000 steps in all but one day.

Support Services

The blog has been quiet for a few days as I traveled on Sunday to Fairfax County, VA to provide support services for eldest son’s family.  T started a new job 2 Monday’s ago at GMU, W started her Art Camp teaching job the same day and that was L’s last day of 3rd grade.  This week he had an adventure camp that required drop off and pick up for the camp bus at times they couldn’t possible manage. As I have blogged before, they do not have a car. Between the cost, the traffic, and the availability of public transportation, they generally don’t need one.  They get where they need to go by walking, biking or taking Metro system busses and trains. Grandmom to the rescue.  Being retired has it’s benefits and since the camp bus drop off point is the direction I am willing to drive, I came up to help. My sole responsibility is getting L to the bus by 8 a.m. and picking him up at 5 p.m.  That leaves a lot of unencumbered, unscheduled time for me.  I voluntarily fix dinner and keep up with basic chores. I have spent lots of time knitting and reading. My current book is The Goldfinch.  Monday I visited a yarn shop we spotted on our way to dinner Sunday evening. They were so welcoming that after buying some yarn, I sat and knitted with them for a couple of hours.  It is too hot to work on the wool/silk sweater I brought, so a started a scarf with the new yarn.

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With the heat index in triple digits, I haven’t wanted to be outside much, so I have tackled a few chores here.  L will be excited to see that Grandmom cleaned his room. He has so many crates of Lego’s and they were everywhere. They are all re-crated, books re-shelved and trash picked up. I sent him upstairs with clean clothes the other afternoon and found them on his floor.  I figured it was distracted 9 year old behavior but realized he had more clothes in his dresser than he had room for. I sorted through the dresser, taking out all of the too small clothes, sorted winter from summer, undies and socks from shirts and pants and put it back together minus the out grown clothes, two bags full.

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While I am here, Jim is home critter sitting  with these dogs and chickens.