Tag Archives: fun

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.





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.


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.



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.


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.



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.


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.


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.

Spinning fun

Today was the annual spin-in at the home of Joanne and Otto and business for Strauch Equipment Company.  This event is an all afternoon potluck lunch and social time. Our weekly spinning group, plus friends from spinning retreats, and friends who are other local spinners that can not come to an afternoon weekday spinning session are invited and drive as much as 3 hours to participate.

As usual, the food was wonderful, the company better.  We sit out on their huge deck under the shade of canopy, roof, and trees and have a great time.  The black walnut tree threw immature nuts at us, the rain sprinkled once and went away until we were all gone to our respective homes.  The heat was turned up a bit more than we would have liked, but tolerable with a couple of large fans and the shade.

I see some of these folks nearly every week, others, only once or twice a year.  It is always a terrific early summer afternoon.



The “Bird of Paradise” fiber I was spinning was finished this afternoon and plyed.  I failed to take a photo until after it was washed, so the photo is darker than it’s true color, but so pretty that as soon as I brought it down stairs once skeined at home, daughter said “What are you going to do with that, it is gorgeous?”  Being a tad playfully mean, I replied, “Wash it.”  I know she wants it for a skinny scarf, so she will be given it once it is dry.  It is only 165 yards of fingering, but it should make a skinny, loosely knit scarf.  Now I need to teach her more than knit and purl.



From Farm to Table

Years ago, when I taught Biology on the high school level, I was often reminded that our society of city dwellers are so far removed from the production of our food, that most of my students had no idea that their food was grown by people, harvested and processed into the canned and frozen products on the grocery shelves.  The idea that their meat had been a living animal and that someone had to raise, feed, and have it slaughtered and butchered to be put on the styrofoam trays, wrapped in plastic in the meat case was so foreign to them that they would argue with me over it. Truly a sad state of affairs.

Though they visited farms in Florida, I think it has been a good experience for my grand children to see that the chickens that I raise produce our eggs.  That the chicken we put on the table was grown here on the farm, killed, cleaned and prepared here.  The plants in the garden produce the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, squash, popcorn, peas and beans that they eat. They like helping out in the garden and pulling weeds to feed the chickens.  To see the chicks hatch and know that they are being raised to produce the chicken and eggs we eat.

It is wonderful that there are cities that have started community gardens and schools that have gardens to teach children about food production and nutrition, but it needs to go farther.  Watching chicks hatch in an incubator in a second grade classroom doesn’t really tell them from where their eggs and chicken come.

N and her mom went with me to an alpaca sheering and she sees me spinning yarn and knitting them hats, mittens, and sweaters from yarn, so she also has some realization that clothing doesn’t just come from a store.

Though I haven’t convinced them that homemade bread is better than factory produced balloon bread, they do love my corn bread, biscuits, scones, and made from scratch pancakes.

This has been a week of illness at our house.  N was sick on Sunday, ok on Monday, sick again on Tuesday, ok on Wednesday and sick again yesterday.  Today she seems ok again and started eating again last night.  Daughter is in her first week of her new job and she has the stuffies, maybe from pollen that is increasing each day. One evening, I felt the virus that N had, but fortunately it was very short lived, only the one afternoon and evening, never like N.

Last night, two of my spinning friends came to our house to learn to make soap.  In the frenzy of giving them the hands on experience, each making a batch with the other looking on and me on the sidelines coaching, I failed to take a single picture.  They each left with a full mold of soap they made, one 3 pound batch of Lavender Rose and one of Bergamot Lemongrass and some palm oil to help them get started on their own.  The only photo are the little muffin tins of overflow.


Both of these ladies are fiber artists, animal raisers, spinners, knitters and I was gifted with fiber to spin and knit in thanks, a great gift.  What a great feeling to help others learn a skill and send them home with some of what they need to get started.

These two friends attend the spinning retreat that I attend, and one of them mentioned that she was selling her Strauch Petit Drum Carder to get a mechanized one. Once home, I talked with Jim about it and last night, she brought it to me as I decided to purchase it from her.  I am excited.  I will be able to blend fibers and fiber colors now. If I finally get brave enough to attempt to dye the fibers myself, I will increase my fun some more.


With Easter coming up this weekend, I was asked by K to hard cook some eggs for the kiddos to dye before Sunday.


Farm fresh eggs won’t peel if boiled, so I learned after starting to raise my own eggs, to steam them for 20 minutes.  They cook perfectly, no green ring around the yolk and peel like a charm.  This is the batch I did second, when the first batch had three cracked eggs in it and I knew not to let them dye them.  I’m not a fan of the commercial dyes, but they are easiest and most child friendly, so they will dye the dozen eggs with their Mom and Dad tonight or tomorrow.

I didn’t want to be left out of the natural dye method this year, so while their eggs were steaming, I did three with yellow onion skins, three in beets, and one each of my Americaunas’ eggs as one lays blue eggs and the other green.


Later I am going to do a few with red cabbage, both brown eggs and Americaunas to see what shades of blue I get.  The beet dyed ones surprised me, instead of the pink I expected, it turned the brown eggs more yellow.  I know that these won’t be peel-able for deviled eggs as they had to be boiled with the natural dyes to get their color, but for breakfast or egg salad, they will be fine.  Since 4 of the 20 eggs cracked during cooking, I enjoyed a couple for my breakfast.  The kids were fascinated with the natural dyed eggs, but it just wouldn’t be as much fun for them as once you put them on the stove to boil with their dye, they just cook. They will have their fun later.

I love the rich brown of the onion skin dyed eggs.  Maybe I should start saving more of the skins and see what color it dyes yarn.



Social Time

Today I took a break from Christmas and Holiday Market readiness and left the rest of the family at home to go have some social time with the spinning group to which I belong.  It has been too long since I have attended and I was missing the socialization with this fabulous group of gals.  Today was our Christmas Social, hosted in the most spectacular home.  This spinner hosts us a couple times a year.  Her home has the most fantastic views and we sit in a huge room with a high ceiling and large windows with more than 180 view.  The gathering is holiday potluck with spreads, cheeses, crackers, sweets and goodies.  Lots of conversation, some spinning, some knitting, and a Dirty Santa exchange.  Having never gone before, I was the only one who didn’t have spinning fiber in my gift.  I did take two skeins of Merino with Silk yarn, so I wasn’t totally out of the ballpark.  There were some sweet gifts, some taken the 3 time limit before they settled to go home with the new owner.  I ended up with the hostesses gift, an adorable painted tray of a sheep and phlox with the saying “Sheep in phlox” and 12 ounces of the prettiest white California Red fiber.  She shared the farm name and their website, I will have to visit soon.


I can’t wait to start spinning this beautiful fiber and then figure out what to make with the yarn.

I hadn’t realized how much I missed the weekly gathering with these beautiful ladies and vowed to make attending on Thursdays again, a priority.

Tomorrow morning, I am going to have breakfast with another friend and this weekend, Mountaingdad and I are going to a holiday party for his Harley Owner’s Group.  That will be all of the holiday partying we will be doing this year.

Tomorrow, I will return to prep and packing to ready the car for the early setup on Saturday at the Winter Holiday Market.  The weather is forecast to to much warmer and calmer than the Fall Market was.  I can’t argue with the forecast.

Air and Space

Today dawned just as rainy as predicted and the day high temperature occurred just after daybreak and has been dipping to a freeze tonight as the day wears on.

I try not to depend on my car too much when here as I really don’t like Northern Virginia traffic, but I’m not a glutton for punishment either nor did I want to walk the Mall in Washington in the rain. Grand and I elected to drive out to the Udvar-Hazy Center and look at all of the planes, satellites, space vehicles and aeronautic history paraphernalia.


Grand in front of the Stealth bomber.


The Space Shuttle Discovery from the skyway.


The amazing structure with tons of aircraft suspended from the ceiling.

If you have never visited this center, it is certainly worth the time. Admission is free, though there is a $15 per car parking fee if you don’t take public transport out.

We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, except my grouchy old lady mode kicked in when a young mom with 2 young boys stopped to watch a 6 minute video on Discover’s last launch and stood behind me talking loudly on her cell phone about a real estate transaction with everyone around her glaring until I finally tapped her on the shoulder and gave the hang it up signal. She collected her boys and left.