Tag Archives: travel

Chaos to Quiet

What a week this has been and I hardly took a photo.  Last weekend we picked up eldest grandson in Northern Virginia and brought him to our farm for spring break so we had three of the grandchildren here with no parents.  The grandson that lives with us currently was in school until early release on Thursday for his spring break, so we mostly were caring for only two during the day.  Daughter and son in law arrived back here on Tuesday night, exhausted after taking two days to drive a mammoth truck with their goods here. Wednesday, Mountaingdad provided childcare while we unloaded the truck into two storage units, then helped us take the furniture out of our front bedroom to put their bedroom furniture in there.  Thursday after son-in-law’s successful interview, we moved our bedroom furniture into their storage unit.

Fortunately the weather last week was wonderful, allowing free range time for the chooks.


They are loving the sprouting chickweed.  Tomorrow, the brooder pen will become home of 4 almost 8 week old Americaunas who will join the flock in a month or so, once they become acquainted through the fences and by fall, we should have some colored eggs to add to the one’s layed by the Buffy’s.  Some of the Buffy’s will be culled and hopefully, there will be some new Buffy’s to add to the flock.


And nice weather for the cousins to run the fields and Mountaingdad to take a ride on the BBH to go the hour and a half to the dealer to have servicing and a flag added to the back.

Friday, I drove eldest grandson back to Northern Virginia in time for his evening guitar practice.  We ran errands that night and  yesterday morning and then I drove home, delighted to find daughter preparing dinner, so I didn’t have to worry with it.

Today we had our traditional Easter dinner of ham, au gratin potatoes, asparagus, deviled eggs and rolls mid day and daughter drove son-in-law to the airport to fly back to Florida for his last two weeks work there before he joins his family here and begins his new job.

It has been busy, this evening it is quiet and I will rest.

Loving life on our mountain farm and all of the young activity here.

A Weekend of Play, Responsibility, and Loss

The loss was not too significant, given that we still have about 6 weeks until we can plant tender plants outdoors, but as we were leaving for two days, one night, I left the light on my starter flat of tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers.  Most of the tomatoes and the tomatillos had sprouted, only a few of the peppers had shown any sign of sprouting. The light was very close to the clear lid on the sprouts and given the south facing window as well, it must have gotten too hot especially for the ones that had gotten tall enough to reach the lid.  I still have a few Jalapeno sprouts, one leggy tomatillo, but the rest are a burned loss.  This morning, I clipped the dead sprouts and replanted seeds.  This time, I am leaving the lid off and just spritzing the surface a few times each day.

Our away was a trip with the two grandchildren living with us to go to Northern Virginia to pick up our eldest grandson for his week of spring break.  We arrived mid afternoon and checked into the hotel just two short blocks from our son’s apartment.  The only things positive that I can say about the hotel were its convenience and its price.  We were on the front of the building, right across from the office with a busy street out front.  The beds had no foundation and were uncomfortably soft and unstable and the wall mounted heating unit, needed because the temperature dropped into the 20’s and the door had no weather stripping (we could see light around all 4 sides) sounded like a wind machine.  The thermostat in the unit did not work, so it was either too hot or too cold depending on whether I turned it on or off during the night.  The kids slept, fortunately, but Mountaingdad and I did not get 4 hours of sleep between us.  The kids were well behaved on the drive up and once we arrived at son’s apartment.  All of us went out to dinner together before separating for the night.  Son’s research showed us that a bus to the Metro left from in front of our hotel at 8:35 a.m. and he and eldest grandson were going to join us for a walking tour of the monuments on Sunday morning.  The car was packed and we were trying to make do with the free breakfast (bagels and grocery store donuts) when son texted that they found a bus a half hour earlier and could we be ready.

The Florida born grandkids thought the Fairfax connector bus and the Metro were great.  We got off on the Metro stop that put us nearest the Lincoln Memorial, a city walk of about a dozen blocks.  A lot of hand holding and herding were necessary to keep those two safe on Washington DC streets, especially since that grandson wanted to do everything that his almost two year older cousin was doing.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA bit of heavy reading on a man just studied in 2nd grade.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACousins posing in front of Lincoln.


More monuments, the Korean War memorial, Martin Luther King memorial (also a recently studied topic), a history recitation by the eldest grandson on Jefferson as we looked across the water at that memorial, too far to walk with kids, and a little one who soon gave out, taking turns being carried by an adult, Uncle being the preferred carrier.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a bit of coaxing and challenges to race, we got her on the ground again as we hit the homestretch, around the Washington monument with a jog up it’s hill to actually get to touch it and on to the Smithsonian Metro station for the train back to Vienna for the trip home last evening.  Many miles walked and tired kids.

The second grader was excited to see Washington.  Eldest grandson excited to be able to spend spring break on the farm, son and daughter-in-law relieved to be able to work and study this week without trying to find daycare for him and entertain him at night, and us pleased to be able to have 3/5 of our grandchildren in our home at one time with the responsibility to keep them safe and cared for in their parents’ absence.

Daughter and son-in-law are in route with a truck full of their household goods, hopefully taking it slowly and safely to arrive here tomorrow night.

While we were away, our haying farmer neighbor took out several cedar and locust trees that have interfered with mowing and haying and removed about a dozen boulder size rocks that have knocked more than one tooth off of his sickle bar and caused more than one nick in our brush hog blade.  His haying and our mowing should be an easier job this year.

Happy New Years from away

For the first time since we met, we were apart on New Year’s Eve. He proposed on New Year’s Eve 37 years ago. We had returned from a ski trip in Vermont, got off the bus and took me to the ER to have my shoulder x-rayed as I had injured it on the trip, in a newly acquired sling to support the separated joint we went out for an early drink then home to my house to celebrate the coming new year quietly. The proposal came just about as the year changed.

Yesterday, I was scheduled to catch a flight in the afternoon to arrive in Florida just after dinner, but before we left for the airport,  I received a text notification that my flight was delayed by more than 2 hours. We dallied about, drove to Roanoke where the airport is located, purchased a t-shirt to replace one of the 2 that I had gotten him for Christmas that had to be returned, had dinner at his favorite restaurant and dropped me off at the airport. As soon as he drove off and I walked in, another text delay.

I finally arrived in Florida after 10 pm and was greeted by a bouncing 3 year old in a frilly glittery dress and cowboy boots, hugging my knees and any 8 year old holding a hand drawn welcome sign. Hugs all around and an hour drive back to their house, we arrived to watch the ball drop in Times Square, wish my home alone husband a happy New Year by phone and go to bed. Not a typical end of year.

But it is all for a good reason. Today daughter and I finish boxing what goes in the trailer, they meet with the Realtor who will likely list their home for sale and prepare to load up the trailer tomorrow for the drive to Virginia. This will be a new chapter in all of our lives, a very welcome one for us.

Holiday Thankfulness

We have just returned to our mountain farm from a few days with family elsewhere.  We were fortunate enough to have a neighbor farm sit for us so we didn’t have to board the dogs, find someone to deal with the outdoor animals and worry about the house in our absence.  This is the first time we have done it this way and it was such a relief to not have to worry about it all.

Our adventure took us away from here on Thursday morning to the coastal area of Virginia, though I have to admit, we never even drove down to the beach.  I don’t miss it at all now that we are in the mountains.  We spent 3 nights with my 91 year old Dad and my step-mom in their home in Norfolk, enjoying some quiet visiting time, a decorated house, and great meals.  Saturday we spent all day with Son#2, our youngest and his family.  Mountaingdad took grandson to see a previewing of Night in the Museum 3 on tickets that Son #2 and DIL had won on a radio contest.  While they were off riding the light rail into Norfolk from the city line and in their movie, Son #2 gave me my first cheese making lesson.  With his help and guidance, I successfully made my first pound of mozzarella cheese.


We used the cheese as a caprese salad as part of our lunch and it was delicious.  We will see if I can make it again by myself at home.  I am excited to have taken this step in being able to prepare another food we eat and will be able make it with local milk.  If I master this one, I may move on to other cheeses.

Once grandson and Mountaingdad returned and we had lunch together, we celebrated our Christmas with their family.  As they had made most of our gifts and as I had made some of theirs we opened each other’s gifts.  Grandson immediately put on his Steelers hooded sweatshirt and wore it all day.  We, as a family, walked over to their neighborhood park for him to launch his foam tipped rocket with the rubber band launcher then all met with Mountaingdad’s sister and her friend, plus my Dad and step-mom at a restaurant for a big family dinner together.  After dinner, Son#2’s family with us went to a Winter Wonderland and Christmas decorated petting zoo to see the lights, the animated displays and the animals; goats, chickens, ducks, alpacas, llamas, a pot bellied pig and ponies.



Unfortunately, Santa had already left, but as we wandered out from our walking tour, we stopped by one of the many fire rings that they had set up for making S’mores and enjoyed the warmth on a chilly night.

This morning, after attending the lessons and carols Christmas service at the church I attended as a child and in which both we and our son were married, we returned across the state to our own bed in the mountains.

It was a wonderful way to spend a long weekend, having quality time with my Dad and with our youngest son and his family, spending time with the grandchildren that we see too infrequently.  Now that our daughter is coming to live here and we know that our neighbor will farm sit if we all go away, perhaps we will be able to reestablish more contact with those grandchildren too.

Lovin’ life.


Today is my thankfulness post as tomorrow I will be silent, cooking and enjoying family time and NO, none of us will be patronizing stores opening on Thursday for Black Friday sales, nor will we join the throngs shopping on Friday.
I am thankful for safe journeys yesterday though long and traffic filled. Our return trip took about 7 hours to make the 4+ hour trip including an hour to travel 7 miles due to nighttime construction on the interstate. We beat the weather home.


This morning’s beauty.


For a silly grandson and the beast who love each other.
For having part of our family here to enjoy this week.
For delicious food, mostly grown locally.
For frequent contact with our other children, my 91 year old Dad and my siblings.
For wood in the garage to keep fires burning today for warmth and coziness.
For health.
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving from the snowy Virginia mountains.

A quick peek

Last night I finished grand daughter #2’s sweater for Christmas, that leaves her brother’s sweater on the needles. It was saved for last because it is going to require more fiddling to get the size right. He is tall enough for a larger size, but so thin, he requires a smaller size. Daughter is sending me length measurements and I am using a smaller size to go around his thin frame. If his takes only slightly longer to make, I should have them all done and the mittens too by deadline. Granddaughter#2’s sweater was given a wash this morning and is now blocking on the dryer top.


The pattern is Cottage Creations Wallaby, the yarn Universal Yarn’s superwash worsted. This is the 5th or 6th time I have made this pattern for a grand, they love it and the areas that I found frustrating the first couple of times are a cake walk now.
Big brother,  is also getting a Wallaby in a darker shade of blue.
Now I’m off on a round trip to Northern Virginia to pick up Son#1 and family for Thanksgiving. I hope the bad weather holds off until we are safely back here and tucked under warm quilts for the night. Tomorrow I bake pies and more rolls, I wasn’t happy with the first batch. The bread was perfect, the rolls not so much.


Sunday eve found Son#1, Grandson#1, and me motoring back to Northern Virginia.  The original plan had been to work on the scaffolding and sharpen knives on Saturday, deal with the meat chickens on Sunday, and have some hiking or other recreation on Monday, Columbus Day, and then I was going to take them home.  Friday as Son#1 was preparing to leave work for home and then the bus trip here, he realized that he wasn’t off on Monday, but Grandson#1 didn’t have school.  Plans changed, we accomplished the Saturday and Sunday plan and took off on Sunday eve for their house.  I spent two nights there to provide care for Grandson#1.  Leaving for home early this morning and encountering much semi traffic and intermittent rain, I decided to take a non interstate route home, at least most of the way.

The route was a beautiful drive, though it took about 90 minutes longer and I drove through a few very severe storms.  The route took me through a good portion of the poultry raising parts of Shenandoah.  This is why I humanely raise and kill my own chickens and buy our turkey from a local free range farmer.

This is one of hundreds of poultry “houses” along the route. The sign that I tried to capture said, “Absolute no trespassing, no visitors.”

This is what the inside of a “free range” building looks like. Photo from the internet, source unknown.

A poultry processing factory, it covered about 2 blocks. The entire town smelled like death and stench.
One of half a dozen trucks I passed going to the factory, each with 120 of these cages so low the turkeys can’t stand in them and each cage holding about a dozen turkeys.
The birds beaks were clipped so they couldn’t harm each other.  This is grocery store poultry.

On a more pleasant note, though the rain was intense at times, part of the route paralleled the Maury River.


The leaves were beautiful, the river sometimes well below the road like the picture above and at other times it was only feet from the edge of the road.  It was a certainly a prettier trip than the interstate, but the trip expanded to 6 hours instead of the usual 4 1/2.  Was it worth avoiding the semis?  I guess it was, but I’m glad to be home again.




It Isn’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings. . .

Or the garden quits producing.  The tomatoes are long gone, the Tomatillos and peppers are making up for it.  Much to my surprise, the late planting of bush beans is producing.

I returned from my Retreat and the 12 hours of driving in 2 days, the babysitting and errands with more jars, lots of them.  I have been taking jars to NoVa for three years, full of canned goodness and have brought a few home, but today I have enough to keep me from a purchase for a while at least.


And bigger jars purchased for the winter storage of bulk goods.


I left NoVa early today and arrived home in time for lunch with Mountaingdad and wandered off to chicken chores and a garden check and was greeted with . . .


Peppers, 5 kinds, tomatillos and beans.  This was inducement to pull out the canner again and pickle 4 pints of Jalapenos, 5 cups of XXX Habanero/Tomatillo sauce, blanch and freeze 3 meals of beans and a quart of bell pepper slices.  The tiny hot little peppers that I bought as cayenne are being added to a bottle of vinegar as I harvest them for a couple of smaller bottles of pepper vinegar.


The more I put by, the more we will enjoy this winter and the more we can share.  The garden has been good to us this year.  I still plan to put up a few more pints of applesauce and a few quarts of apple slices in juice, make a gallon of cider vinegar, as much green salsa and XXX hot sauce as I have Tomatillos and peppers, pints of pickled Jalapenos until the frost hits.  The winter squash and pumpkins continue to spread and grow.  Hopefully, below all of those leaves we will find a good harvest of Buttercup squash, Seminole pumpkins and yellow and white sweet potatoes that were engulfed a couple of weeks ago.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.  It is good to be home.

Pooped Pair

Yesterday Son #1 started as soon as he felt exterior surfaces of the logs were dry. With only a break for lunch and minimal help from me staining, he managed to do almost all of the garage. I did the door frame and window and frame. We put up scaffolding, took down scaffolding, shifted it around and put feet under sections that didn’t have them, leaving a set up that will allow me to get the last few logs on one side of the garage and the front breezeway wall. The back breezeway wall can be reached from the deck with a short ladder, as can the front wall of the house and the garage door tops. That is my job for the rest of the week, but today I rest.  I rest because we didn’t stop until 6 p.m. and he had to be at work at 9 a.m. today, 4 1/2 hours away, so we ended our day with the two of us sharing the drive, arriving near midnight, me sleeping there, getting him to work and driving back home this morning.


It is amazing how dark the house looks when first stained and how light it turns in just a year or so.


Left half still to be stained, right half done yesterday.
Today my back is sore and my body weary, so I am limiting myself to kitchen cleaning and laundry. Tomorrow I will stain.

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!