Tag Archives: roadtrip

Olio August 16, 2014

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

On Thursday, I returned our eldest grandson to his home.  He had been with us since July 3 and it was a wonderful 6 weeks.  He enjoyed playing with our dogs, learned to ride his bike, traveled to Florida with us to visit his Aunt and Uncle and cousins for a week, swam, had outings with Granddad to the batting cage and several movies.  He and Granddad played catch in the yard and had batting practice.  A few times, he cooked with me, learning to make his favorite blueberry muffins and getting some math practice with measuring and calculating which measuring cups would give him the quantity he needed.  It was a relief to his Mom and Dad to not have to try to find summer care for him and figure out how to get him to and from that care when they both left very early for their jobs.

Yesterday after playing with his neighborhood friends, showing off to his Mom and Dad his new bike riding skills, having Grandmom take him to his guitar lesson, they all left at 9:30 last night on the Metro to Union Station to catch an 11:30 p.m. Greyhound bus to Virginia Beach, where he and his Mom will spend the next week with her parents.  Our son will return home to Northern Virginia on the train tomorrow so he can be at work on Monday.  His Mom’s summer job has ended and her school begins just before Labor Day.  I returned to their house to spend the night before traveling home this morning.  As I was avoiding the interstate and taking a leisurely cruise down the Skyline Drive this morning, I received a text from son saying that they were stuck in Richmond, VA, only a couple hours from their home and a couple hours from their destination almost 12 hours after leaving on the bus.  Their 4 hour trip lasted 14 hours.  There is something truly wrong with Greyhound’s business model that passengers with tickets can not have a seat on a leg of their trip.  If they hadn’t had to disembark at the transfer station in Richmond, they would have been at their destination in the early hours, not the next afternoon.

After enjoying about an hour and a half of scenic drive, I got back on the interstate, so my 4 hour trip wouldn’t take all day and like Thusday, was again stuck with the semis.


I followed these two for miles and miles doing less than 60 mph in a 70 mph zone. Behind me was a line of at least a dozen more.


It is amazing how quickly chicks grow.  These little guys and gals are a week and a half old.  They can almost get out of the brooder which is a huge stock watering tank. I guess I am going to have to put a screen over it soon.  They are all darkening and growing wing and tail feathers.  The one center front is the one I named Chipmunk because of the dark stripes on his back when I uncartoned them from the Hatchery.

Egg production is picking up.  The pullets are getting the hang of the laying bit.  In the past 6 days, we have gotten 7 pullet eggs, so I know that more than one of them is laying.  We also got 5 hen eggs, though Broody Girl is still insisting on empty nest sitting.  This has gone on now for over a month.  Perhaps I should get her some fertile eggs and just let her give it a go.


The pullet eggs are so small compared to the hen eggs.  At least we are getting some again.

The garden loved last week’s rain, the tomatoes are ripening in the sun, peppers are swelling and I am nearly overrun with Tomatillos.  I haven’t looked under the row covers to see how the transplants are doing, but they will have to be watered today or tomorrow.

My purple thick skinned grapes are ripe.  Perhaps I should attempt some grape jelly.

The weather feels like fall already.  I shouldn’t get too excited, it will probably get hot again soon.

This week, we tackle power washing the decks to re-stain.  I’m trying to figure out how we are going to keep the outdoor cats off while they dry and how we will get the dogs in and out.  I guess they will have to go through the garage, but neither of them are used to doing that, so it may require leading them out on a leash til the decks dry.

Hubby took off early this morning on a ride on his BBH (Big Bad Harley) with the Hog Club from where his bike came.  It is a ride to just get there, over an hour.  They were going to have breakfast then ride into West Virginia.  He texted me that he did go and that he was in West Virginia.  I guess I will see him later this afternoon when he returns.

When I was in Northern Virginia to pick up grandson in early July, I bought some variegated yarn at a local shop.  The yarn is one that isn’t available around here and I knit a Hitchhiker scarf from it.  I decided that I wanted a cardigan sweater of the same yarn and returned yesterday to the shop to try to purchase it.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough of it to make a sweater, but I did get a worsted weight solid that coordinates beautifully with it.  As soon as the weather is cool enough to sit with the bulk of a sweater body in my lap while knitting, I will make myself a sweater to go with my scarf.

Though it is only mid afternoon, I am tired from my travels and contemplating a short nap.  Life is an adventure!

For Mother’s Day, We Went to War

War, West Virginia that is.  As spring broke and Jim brought out his motorcycle, he set off one day to follow a route that had been given him at one of the dealerships while looking for a bigger bike.  Somehow, he zigged when he should have zagged and missed the correct turn to do the ride and after thinking he had somehow gotten a bit out of his way, he found himself in War, West Virginia.  After many hours, he finally returned home and we Goggled it to find out more about it and in doing so, I discovered a new to me, local author.  Michael Abraham has written a number of fiction and non fiction books all set in the Appalachian region in which we live.  His topics covering the heritage of this region.

The Appalachian region is rich in music culture and includes the Crooked Road, a music trail of venues that feature the local bluegrass and folk music of the area.  This part of Southwest Virginia and Southern West Virginia are also areas from which a glut of coal is extracted.  The industrial rise and increased use of electric power in homes caused an influx of population as miners worked in factory towns to extract the mineral at the expense of their health and often their lives.  As mechanization was improved and fewer miners were needed, most of these towns began to fail.  As you drive through the regions, abject poverty is evident.  Homes that were built by the mine owners and rented to the miners are run down, many abandoned, stores boarded up and Main Streets vacant.



Each of these coal towns has a still functioning or abandoned tipple, the structure is used to clean the coal then load it into rail cars by the hundreds that rumble across Virginia to the coast to be loaded into ships and exported overseas, much of it to China.



This is the tipple at a deep mine, though mechanized, the mining crew still works underground.  Coal developed in seams of varying thickness thousands of years ago.  The seams are like icing in a layer cake and in deep mines, the miners dig down into a seam, reinforcing the tunnel as they go, extracting the coal and sending it to the surface.  When the mine is spent and they are worked back out, the layers were often collapsed to prevent accidental cave ins.  This is dangerous work, but causes less impact on the ground level environment.


Mountain top removal or strip mining is also prevalent in this region.  It came about as a means to use fewer miners, more mechanization and caused a devastation to the area’s environment.  The trees are stripped off the top of a mountain and the soil and rock are blasted out and dumped into the valleys to reach the coal which is then trucked in dumpers too large for traditional roads to the tipples.  These mountain top removal mines have dams that hold huge ponds to clean the coal and there have been many accidents where the retaining dam has failed and in a few cases wiped out a town downstream (http://www.usmra.com/buffalo_creek.htm).  The impact of this type of mining is the eradication of streams, deforestation, devastation of wildlife habitats.

Few of the young people in these towns stay.  Those that do are in one of the most impoverished areas of the United States.  After reading the novel War, WV by Abraham and doing more research about mining, I wanted to see the results.  Today we took a road trip after our brunch and drove the loop that my husband rode so that I could see it for myself.  There are many more pictures taken today, the mountain top removal photo used is from the internet as the only one of those mines we could see from the road was from a steep mountain road with a series of hairpin turns and no place to stop and take a picture.  Today was quite a learning experience and makes me thankful all the good that I have been given.

Sunday Wonderful

Wow, a gorgeous day and not to be wasted indoors.  Jim wanted a roadtrip to buy a riding jacket that is more appropriate for the warm days.  His vintage look leather jacket is fine with the vents open up to about 70ºf but he came home last Sunday and I thought he was going to pass out.  He had struggled with the bike on our gravel road and driveway and basically walked it downhill the .4 miles and was so overheated it was dangerous.  To make our trip, we checked out various rides he could do or had done that keep him off of the Interstate which is so heavy with semi trucks that it is dangerous.  Between the driving and the shopping we were gone for nearly 5 hours and I saw some beautiful countryside that I had never seen before.

My mother grew up in this part of the country and I often heard stories about the counties and towns, but had never seen them.  I had my camera, but didn’t think to take a single photo.  Near the last part of the drive, we rode for 45 miles along a beautiful creek lined with cabins and homes.

When we got home, I went over to check on the chickens, collect eggs, and give them a treat of wild mustard greens and discovered an empty coop.


For the past several evenings, there have been 3 or 4 of the chicks out at dusk, but the rest remained steadfastly indoors.  Today they are all outside, merrily pecking at the grass or dust bathing in the shade.



The littles totally being ignored by the adults, much to my delight.  They still segregate at night and so I am leaving the partition in place for a few more days.  We are due for a couple of days of rain, so there may be more in coop time, especially for them.  On Friday, they will be 9 weeks old and I think the partition will come down.  I’m still at a quandry about Cogburn.  I really want a self sustaining flock, but since he only has 3 hens in with him now, he is wearing them out and their backs have almost no feathers on them.  They make “saddles” to protect them, but I don’t want to go that route.  If I remove him, there won’t be any coop chicks unless I am able to quickly get some Buff Orpington fertilized eggs quickly when a hen goes broody.  I really don’t want to do the heat lamp brooder bit again, though I know that I will have to for the meat chickens.  Maybe I should just accept that is the way it will be every few years as we replace the older hens.  If we had electricity out there that would run the heat lamp, I would just build a brooder coop with separate run, but we don’t.

At least, this time, I have successfully raised and introduced 10 chicks to the mix with no fatalities.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.

Spinning, not the exercise class

I have been spinning fiber for about 4 years now, starting with a drop spindle and switching to a wheel a couple of years ago.  My first wheel was a restored Ashford Traditional that I bought from a friend who had restored it and learned on it and then won a new wheel.  I learned on it, using it for a bit more than a year, sold it to mutual friend who is a fellow knitter that wants to learn to spin.  When I sold it, I bought an Ashford Kiwi 2 as I wanted a double treadle wheel and used it for nearly a year and sold it to get a wheel that travels better for going to spinning group and for taking when I go to spend a week babysitting with a grand.  My new wheel which I have only had for a few weeks is a brand new Kromski Sonata.  Getting the new wheel inspired me to work through some of the fiber I had collected and have made undyed Shetland wool yarn that is for sale at Greenberry House (www.greenberryhouse.com) in Meadows of Dan.  Then I finished 3 ounces of Merino, spun for a friend.

As spinning is going well, I decided that I was ready to start expanding the yarn making process and wanted to mix some of the Alpaca fleece that I have with some wool that I have, so I bought a set of hand carders from Strauch Fiber Equipment Co. (http://www.strauchfiber.com/) as she is a spinner in the group to which I belong.  I have started blending the Caramel colored Alpaca with a light and dark Blue Faced Leicester wool.


Today Jim and I took off for a drive and ended up at Olde Liberty Fiber Faire (www.olfibrefaire.com/).  From that I came home with a big red cloud of hand carded Tunis wool and a bag of dark colored Finn X Jacob to spin and a small pot of garnet red dye to try my hand at dyeing my own yarn.  


Once I feel that I have a good handle on these skills, my goal is to buy a whole raw fleece, wash it and hand card the locks for spinning into yarn to dye.

I’m sure Jim would have rather spent the day wandering around the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Fest that we passed and watched literally hundreds of motorcyclist headed in that direction, but he spent the day with me.

Tomorrow, my wheel, hand carders, a suitcase packed with clothing, yarn and fiber are headed off for a week of babysitting in Northern Virginia while he stays home and critter sits the 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 20 chickens.  I am leaving him with homemade stew, chili, and goulash so he doesn’t have to eat out each night.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm, and off of it when we take a day trip.

Rest and crafting

Yesterday was a rainy damp day, still warm, but too wet to do much outdoors.  In the late morning we drove over to the Blue Ridge Parkway and south to Meadows of Dan.  The outing had two purposes, one to see the renovation progress on Mabry Mill, where they have done some repair on the holding pond, rebuilt the old mill wheel and are repairing the sluiceway to the mill.  This is a favorite spot for us to take visitors, the mill is scenic, in fact, several communities throughout the USA use the picture on their postcards which is amusing.  There is a blacksmith, a carpenter that makes ladderback chairs and other objects, a tiny cabin filled with looms and spinning wheels, walking paths along the creek through Rhododendron thickets and other native plants.  The grandchildren love to drive over for part of a day.  The visitor center displays local crafts and sells buckwheat flour, corn meal, and corn grits in commemorative cloth bags.  Each fall, we drive over before they close for the winter and I supply our pantry with these products, sold very reasonably and milled locally.

Maybry Mill

This is a prior trip much later in the summer and with a grand helping to do a Flat Stanley shoot.

The other reason for our venture was to take a small supply of my handspun yarn to Greenberry House, a delightful yarn and gift shop in Meadows of Dan to be sold with her other handspun yarn.  She will be selling some of my yarn in her shop.  She sells mostly local handspun yarn, fleeces and rovings, with just a bit of superwash or acrylic commercial yarn for local charity knitters.  The gift shop has local handthrown pottery, canned jams and preserves, jewelry, handmade glasses cases and other fabric items, and a few old collectibles.  The shop is convenient to pop off of the parkway.  The town also has the Poor Farmer’s Market with more gifts, fresh produce, local cheese and butter, and the biggest display of Lodge Cast Iron cookware I have ever seen as well as a deli counter where you can get sandwiches and cold drinks.  There are a couple of restaurants and several other shops as well.  It is a good stopping place if you are traveling the Parkway.

The adventure got my creative juices flowing and when we arrived back home, I spun almost a full bobbin of a very fine single of Shetland wool, natural white.  Once I have two bobbins of it, I will ply it, measure and decide if it is going to stay natural white of dye it.  Perhaps it will be knit into a gift or set aside to be taken to Greenberry House for sale.


My car knitting and break from spinning knitting is a shawl.  The edge pattern is from Lola Shawl by Carrie Bostick Hoge in Issue 9 of “taproot” magazine, one of my favorites and one of only two to which I subscribe.  Her shawl pattern is a triangle and out of worsted weight yarn, I don’t like the way it ripples around the neck and shoulders, so I am modifying it to make a squared shawl using 6 stitch increase every other row and will use her leaf pattern border at the bottom.  I prefer a shawl/scarf that does not have to be pinned or held to keep it on.  The yarn is Quince and Co., Lark, the color is Cypress.


Today is sunny and a bit cooler.  There are a few things to be done outside, but at least a couple of hours will be spent with friends at Green Dragon Yarns, knitting and socializing and maybe buying some more fiber to spin.