Tag Archives: family

Olio July 17, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.


Rainbow at sunset.


An overflowing 8 quart bucket of garlic now curing in the root cellar.


Peppers and sunflowers, newly planted bush beans.


Pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes taking over half of the compost bins.


Chard and sunflowers.

20140717_125843 1

Haircuts for grandson and granddad.

It has been a busy week with bike riding learning sessions for grandson and he can now ride around the bus loop, in and out of grass, stop with the brakes if he is going slow enough, ride up and down an incline, start without help and says, “This is easy!”  Why oh why did he make such a fuss just a few short days ago.

We have had several trips to the library, have done the daily writing and math practice and he is doing his chores with minimal complaint.

On a less positive note, I just got a call from my father and my sis who had Rotator Cuff surgery today, instead of going home has been put in ICU on a ventilator because of breathing problems.  Thoughts and prayers sent on the way to Kansas are welcome.






Independence Day

Today the USA will celebrate with cookouts and fireworks. Today would be my Mom’s 90th birthday, though she died 27 years ago. She celebrated on that date and always said that was her birth date, but she wasn’t really sure. She was adopted as an infant after the death of her parents in a time where records weren’t kept as a they are now. She knew she was born in Pennsylvania and knew her birth name, but when she went to get a birth certificate for a
Passport, there were no records. Her baptismal certificate said July 4, so that is when she celebrated.

One of our neighbors was a Greek immigrant who had become fairly successful upon coming to America and he too celebrated his birthday on July 4th as he had no idea when his real birthdate was and he wanted to celebrate with the country that took him in and made him a successful businessman.  His sons held a huge neighborhood cookout with a spitted lamb, burgers, hotdogs, pot luck side dishes.  They had a pool and we spent the day swimming and eating then shooting fireworks over the river.

Last night, I brought eldest son and his family home with me for the weekend and eldest grandson will be spending most of the summer with us.  We had some fencing to do, 2 gates to hang, a small wall to construct around the top of the culvert and tomorrow to put 8 chickens in freezer camp.

Plans changed some this morning when a neighbor’s dog got in the cull pen and killed 2 of the hens. We spent a good portion of today reconfiguring pens, hanging two gates and setting poles for more electric fencing around the chickens and the garden. Tomorrow we will have 2 less hens to kill.

Tonight we feasted on steak, corn and peas and came into town to watch fireworks.


Happy birthday Mom, Papu, & USA.

Olio – June 27, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

The Raspberry jam salvage was a success.  It is spoonable, spreadable, and isn’t so sweet it makes me gag.  A win.  The wild Blackberries are so thick with fruit this year, I have a dilemma.  I don’t need any more jam.  My daughter who LOVES blackberry jam made a pantry full of Strawberry Jam when the berries were ripe in Florida, so she doesn’t need jam either, but I can’t resist foraging for blackberries on the farm.  I can freeze them and use them in smoothies, cakes, and cobblers, but we aren’t dessert eaters unless we have guests and then hubby would rather I make apple, lemon or pumpkin pie rather than cobbler.  What’s a girl to do?

The rain held off long enough for me to get everything that wasn’t hayed, mowed.  Jeff is coming a few times a day and hauling off 9 bales of hay at a time on his lowboy trailer pulled by the behemoth tractor.  There are still 45 bales to go.  The mowing was a priority as I am off to babysit for 5 days then bring RT and L back here with me on July 3.  We will send 8 chickens to freezer camp, hang a gate, watch fireworks, and feast for the two days RT is here, then he will catch a bus back home to be back at work on Monday.  L will stay with us for about 7 weeks of his summer vacation.

The teenager chicks are looking like I may not have to wait until August to get eggs from them.  Many of the girls combs and waddles are growing and turning red.  It won’t be long before I start seeing wind eggs in the coop and then pullet eggs in the nesting boxes as they figure the process out.


They are hiding from the heat, the culls are dustbathing to keep cool.


I dragged the chicken tractor to a new spot to give the culls something fresh for their last week.  Jim will be in charge while I’m gone.

The last of the spoiled bale of hay needs to be moved over to the garden and some areas remulched.  We had a chicken escape and they got in the vegetable garden and the new flower bed and made quite a mess.  Between that, some thin areas that are starting to show weeds, tomatoes and peppers tall enough to mulch around, I need to get that task done before I leave also.  I might actually welcome a rain shower while that is being done to cool things off a bit.  The garden is thriving, the kale is winning.


The sink is full, the chickens got at least this much and there is plenty to take to Northern Virginia for them when I go up.


First Tomatillo.  Can’t wait for a crop of them.


The peas are almost done.  If I cool off enough from working out there, I will pick a meal’s worth for tonight.


It amazing me how quickly the raspberries ripen.  I picked the bushes clean yesterday and treated myself to a hand full while I was weeding.  I save a hand full to have with my yogurt tomorrow.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.


The Harvest


Yesterday just as they finished mowing the lower field, it started to rain.  We probably got two inches yesterday evening and last night.  This morning dawned thick and gray and it didn’t look good for finishing the hay.  Jeff unhooked the baler and added a second fork to the back of the tractor and started moving the already baled hay into trailer size loads around the fields.  The sun finally came out and the wind picked up, so they tettered the mowed field twice and let it sit for a couple of hours, raked it and finished baling it about an hour ago.  The total hay harvest this year is 96 big round bales.

While they were baling, I picked more raspberries.  I need less than a cup to make a batch of pure raspberry jam.  Another day or two and I will be set.  The peas are filling out faster than I can pick them and certainly faster than we can eat them, so tomorrow I will pick, shell and freeze at least a few packages for the winter.  There are tiny peppers on some of the plants, blossoms on the tomatillos, the cucumbers, squash and beans are continuing to grow.  I think there will be a handful of blueberries soon too.  The chickens are enjoying the over matured kale leaves.  I think a big armful of kale and chard will accompany me to Northern Virginia in a week when I babysit for 4 days and then bring our oldest grandson here for a few weeks of the summer to help his Mom and Dad out.

The 3 jars of mustard finished their ferment time yesterday and today and were completed and packaged in 8 oz jars for summer enjoyment and to share with our kids.

We started our morning at the Farmers’ Market and came home with radishes, turnips, carrots, spring onions, flowers, beef and pork.  We are set for a week of good eating.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

Home Again

This past week was one of my visits to Northern Virginia to aid with childcare for L (eldest grandson.)  As RT (eldest son) had driven my car up there on Christmas to get their gifts home and to have some transportation for a month.  Living in that area and on near a Metro line, they don’t own a car.  Where they can’t get on the Metro, they go on their bicycles.  If it is too far for that, they just don’t go.  On Friday evenings, L has his guitar lesson for 30 minutes and RT manages to get their grocery shopping done and they load it all on their tandem bike or take the bus home.  Having my car makes the whole process more convenient.

Because of the car already being there, I went up on the Amtrak train out of Lynchburg.  It will be more convenient when it comes into Roanoke.  I generally take the MegaBus, but there were no seats available on the day I needed it.  The train ride was an interesting experience, I haven’t really ridden a train since before Jim and I married and prior to that taking it to college.  For some reason, the train car was so hot, I stripped down to my t-shirt and slacks, but I wasn’t sharing a double seat, so I just piled all my snow layers in the seat beside me.  Having not slept well the night before due to worrying whether we would be able to make the 109 mile drive in the snow that fell that night and having to get up at 3:30 a.m. to make the trip, I spent a good part of the 4 hours dozing.

Normally, L and I try to find outings together, but he opted to go to the School Aged Afterschool Care program one day to go roller skating and didn’t feel well the next day.  Yesterday, he, RT, and I planned an outing to Chinatown in Washington DC to watch the Chinese New Year’s parade, fighting the traffic to get there and realize it was today instead.  We used the time we had put on the parking meter to get some lunch in a Chinese Restaurant (surprisingly one of the only ones in Chinatown) then did the art scavenger hunt in the Luce Foundation part of the  Smithsonian American Art Museum.

This morning, my car loaded, and breakfasted with bagel sandwiches made by RT for us, I pointed my car home and had an easy trip with little traffic and no bad weather.  That is supposed to begin later with a bit of everything predicted this week, rain, ice, sleet and snow and one model showing us getting our first major storm this season with 18″ or more of snow.  That will shut us in for a few days.

I enjoy my trips to help them, but am always glad to be home to my own schedule, our bed and routine.

The Sitter


Several times each academic year,  she travels 4 hours northeast to have quality time with the eldest grandson. He is an active 8 year old, she has two score and 18 on him, but young at heart. Her primary purpose is to provide daycare on his non school days when his parents both have school and/or work. She supervises his homework and guitar practice on those days and gets to enjoy one on one time as well.

Often, an outting or two is planned, weather permitting, the winter being the most difficult to find things to do. His house is less than a mile from the Metro train into Washington, but the temperature is too cold to endure the walk and finding parking there is nearly impossible as it is a terminal commuter station. She seeks alternative activities. 

Today he went roller skating with his School Age Child Care Program, thus giving  her half a day of solo time. Time spent helping out the family with some household chores, buying a few groceries to have the rest of the ingredients for chicken enchiladas for dinner, utilizing some of the meat that her son helped put in the freezer last spring or fall.

Tomorrow, they will either brave the cold, though somewhat warmer and visit one of the Smithsonian museums on the mall or brave the traffic and visit the Space Museum near Dulles.

Family time will be enjoyed Saturday and she will return to her hubby and the farm life on Sunday.

Sunday Thankfulness – 1/19/2014


I am forever thankful to my husband of almost 38 years for bringing me into his life circle and staying true and loving to me. And for his generous part in helping us relocate across the state to our retirement farm.

I am grateful for the beautiful views we are privileged to have from our home. Beautiful in all seasons.

I am thankful for the warm coziness our home provides, even when the wind howls fiercely through the hollow, as I sit and watch the snow flurries drift through my view.

And for the silly pups as they cavort in the cold, alternately trying to catch each other or the snowflakes.

To my hens for their daily contribution to my protein needs.

To my children and my grandchildren, one of which turns 7 today. Happy Birthday, Aidan.

Life is good on our mountain farm.

All Good Things Must End

The holidays are over and with it, the travel time. These past couple of months have been quite atypical for us. We travel little, other than my jaunts to Northern Virginia to babysit for a few days, we generally take a weeklong ski trip, boarding the pups and a week long visit to our daughter’s family with the dogs.

This fall we left on a two week adventure after boarding the pups. One week of that was a Bahamas cruise with our youngest son and his family, then spent an additional week with them in their home. The dogs like the boarding kennel we use, but were glad to be home.

That was followed with Thanksgiving at home with eldest son and his family visiting, then a week later, boarding the beasties again for our week long trip to Zihuatenajo Mexico.

Back home from that the second week of December in time to decorate and finish shopping for Christmas, we had a couple of weeks to recover.

Christmas brought eldest son and grandson back for a few days to celebrate together and Christmas noon, they left in my car headed north to home and we loaded up gifts, luggage, and dogs in Hubby’s SUV to drive south for 4 days with daughter’s family.

The visit was fun. The kids love the dogs, with our two plus their golden, it was a houseful of fur. Our pups stoically tolerate the 13 to 14 hours each way driving.

It has been great, but we are tired and ready to be home for the winter. My neighbor has gotten more of my eggs this fall than have we and the freezer is full of our produce we haven’t been home to eat.

All of this was on top of last February’s week trip skiing in Colorado, a 3 day ski trip in West Virginia, and the 3 day August trip for the family gathering. That has put us away from home in the past year for 42 days. We have exhausted our travel quota til our energy and budget recover.

Holiday family time

The gift giving frenzies are done. Two days before Christmas I feared for the worst when I awoke with Norovirus. The day was miserable and the family left me to sleep and went to see The Hobbit.  Fortunately Christmas Eve dawned over it. Our tradition is to have our Christmas dinner on the eve. The dinner was prepared, enjoyed and delicious. Christmas was a celebration of love and commercial avarice but so much fun watching the grands rip into their new gifts.


Santa brought me a new tablet and hubby a motorcycle jackest with armor for his new hobby.

We are loving family time, especially hubby who granddaughter has really decided is hers alone and wanted him to sleep with her last night.


The Stockings

Growing up, the tradition at Christmas was to have Christmas dinner on the eve of Christmas day.  After dinner, stockings were hung and my sibs and I were shuffled off to bed so Santa could come.  As an adult, I have heard some tales about this gift or that requiring assembly that only a child can handle.  Our stockings were red felt stitched with white yarn and decorated with white felt cutouts, commercial and not very sturdy, fading and failing a bit more each year.

When I married and we started our family, I was committed to handmade stockings for each of us.  I bought a crocheted pattern kit for hubby and decided that the same pattern could be made for me.  The yarn for his is nice and firm and holds it shape well, mine on the other hand stretches and distorts.  As each child was conceived, I bought a crewel work stocking kit which I lined for stability and wearability for each of them and the first two children got theirs for their first Christmas, the youngest didn’t get his until his second Christmas.  Hey, after all, I had three children under the age of 7 and was outnumbered even with hubby’s help.  Each of those stockings moved with the adult child to their new home, except eldest son’s and he generally spends Christmas here.


The tradition allowed the children to have their stockings as soon as they came downstairs to the living room, but the rest of the gifts had to wait for breakfast and the Christmas story.

When our second grandchild came along, daughter asked only a month before Christmas if I would make her son a stocking.  Not having enough time to do a crewell work one and having yet to make socks successfully to knit one, I quilted it.  It is cute, but firm and tight and hard to stuff.

Two years ago, daughter was due with her second in late November, but she asked way in advance and my knitting had improved to the point where I felt I could handle not only knitting the stocking, but doing colorwork to have a pattern on it.  This stocking led to youngest son, who had also had a child that year asking if I could do one for his two children and our eldest grandson had never gotten his own stocking, so he also entered the queue.    That meant I had 4 knit stockings to complete and send off by Christmas,

Traditionally, the toe of the stocking holds a small mesh bag of gold foil covered chocolate coins.  They have become more difficult for me to find here in the mountains, but generally I can get them at Target.  Not this year.  There will be no gold foil covered coins, but the other traditions will live on.

I hope you and your family celebrate your special holiday with love and peace.