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It has been a very long year – well, almost a year – of high hopes and plans to get the much ballyhooed Covid-19 vaccination. Bill and I have followed all the rules and pretty much hunkered down and separated from family and friends.

And since I am still having trouble walking with a BigFoot that moved to the other foot and then from those two feet to the knees and then to my right hip, Bill is the “outside man” for shopping and errands and I am the “inside woman” with the chores I can handle.

We both decided months ago that we would get the vaccine ASAP! “We will be at the top of the list,” we thought, “because we are over 65!”

That was before a doctor I admire warned that if I was waiting for a vaccine, it would be a long wait. He was sure all the healthy young people would get it first. It made no sense to him but that is what he believed. “And why should I get it before you do when you are at the most risk from dying?” he asked.

Now it looks like we are actually closing in on qualifying for the arm jabs that hopefully will ward off death.

It sounds like vaccination appointments will be coming up over the next two weeks in our Central Shenandoah Health District in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Yes!

Finally there are notices that we are moving into Phase 1b in our specific district!

So why am I plagued with ongoing questions?

  • Is this cause for hope and celebration?

I have a more “believe it when I see it” attitude.

  • Will we really get the first shot?
  • And will we really then get the second one?

Somehow I am not sure of the value of our lives.

  • Will there be enough left for us after the masses of younger Essentials?
  • Will we have bad reactions?
  • How long will the protection last?
  • Will we have to get re-vaccinated every year?
  • Would it be better to wait for the one dose vaccine?

We are on the brink of beating the horrible virus that took over so many lives. At least that is what the experts keep telling us.

When we have passed the finish line and all of us have won the race for immunity, I will try to write another blog post in a real celebration for all the questions answered and all the lives saved.

Retiring from Progress

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I have decided to quit. 

I am tired of progress.

This gift is another very special thing that must be learned.

And I am tired of learning.

The school room was the place for that along with a younger more receptive mind.  And if you learned something well and once, it was good for a lifetime.  Well mostly.

When I was 17 I had a job as a gopher (go-fer this and go-fer that) and they told me if I learned to clean and operate an Ozalid machine, I would have some invaluable knowledge for life.  Noone I know today has ever heard of an Ozalid machine, have you?

Nowadays, however, if you learn a thing and think you have it stored and always ready to draw upon “you have another think coming.”  Nope.  If you learn one part of a computer it may be useless in a matter of hours.

Here I am with a shiny new computer I am calling Ogar (short for Ogre) that was given to me for Christmas with great love by my whole family.  I am truly grateful since the old object of their affection, which I had partially learned after 5 years of struggling was showing signs of ultimate collapse.

Groan.  How can I disparage such a thoughtful wonderful gift? 

Well, the process of transferring all the old stuff to the new Ogar may sound easy but HA!  Not so.  The process is more like a pulling a tooth.  You mindlessly explore with the tongue for a ghostly apparition of what might still be there, but in the end all the exploration yields only a gaping empty space.

My sweet family saw this sleek new marvel would not only replace the 5 year old relic, but it would  also keep me busy whilst waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine.  In addition to proving how warm hearted my family is, there is also an element of logic there.

Ogar is definitely a time guzzler.

And better Ogar than Covid right?

Ogar is certainly keeping me busy too, creating a roadmap of wrinkles upon my brow.   Thankfully I call upon my son to guide me through all the myriad options chasing an insane cursor through a maze of intricate maneuvers over an increasingly insane canvas. And only my son really knows where the mercurial sensor is going or why.

“You see that thing that looks like a cog?” he asks in his effort to guide me through all the symbols.

A cog? 

How do I know what a cog looks like? 

Where on this page of icons, symbols and totems is there a cog?

 “Settings?”  “Oh, you mean SETTINGS!”

I am definitely retiring from Progress.

The Slope Goat

Bill and I live on top of a hill with a grand view of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a steep 15 acre slope down which I call The South 40. The South 40 requires “bush hogging.” And when I began to see the forest primeval slowly encroaching I realized we were facing an upkeep challenge.

In the beginning we had two horses (Lucy and Martini). There was also Martini’s friend, Rossi, but he was too wild for us equestrian novices. We were told grazing horses would take care of keeping the grass/weeds down but that was “fake news.”

The horses did love grazing but the grass grew faster than they could chew and soon everything became weeds and trees in an overgrown pasture.

We decided to hire a bush hogger person to keep things trim. That was only successful off and on since not too many people have their own equipment who are willing to risk life and limb to clear our formidable hillside.

Finally Bill bought a John Deere – a big but not the biggest John Deere – so he could mow the slope himself. He had to go straight down to the bottom and then straight back up (no sideways trimming due to the danger of tipping over).

I had visions of Bill lying on the slope with the bush hogger machine on top! Twice a year Bill would do the slope and it would take him four or five days each time to complete the job and that long for me to worriedly chew my nails down too.

Note of interest: Bill was halfway up/down the slope when I ran out to tell him about the 9-11 Disaster. This should give you an idea of how long he has been dedicated to bushhogging our slope.

As Bill grew older – and older, and less interested in risking his own life and limb, a Miracle Man arrived. Dennis came from Texas and said he noticed many folks around here have steep slopes that need trimming. He then bought a special mower that allows him to mow across slopes instead of up and down.

Dennis named his new company Slope Goat!

Dennis the Slope Goat finishes mowing our South 40 in three to four hours instead of days. Now we are duly impressed and looking forward to retiring the big John Deere.

Lest I sound too cynical about our steep incline/decline, the slope has some desirable attributes:

  • There is an old forest and a gurgling stream at the bottom. This is great for horses since they must go down to the bottom to drink and come back up for food (lots of great exercise). The problem is, we outlived our horses who were 28 and 32 and had become longtime lawn ornaments grazing on our parklike slope. Our urge to ride slowly receded when it was too hot, too cold, too buggy or we didn’t feel quite like it.
  • The horses did look beautiful grazing though and our three grandgirls loved pony rides.
  • I used to take walks down to the bottom of the slope (but not for long since it’s a killer huffing and puffing back up).
  • When Elsa-the-dog was new and we turned her loose for the first time, she ran down to the bottom, back up, and down and up again. That was the first and last time she ever tried to make a break for it.

And here we sit, atop our hill. It is 30+ years later as we admire the ever-changing mountain view. But if we look down for a moment at the land, we can see all the way to where we know the stream is. And though we may be a bit too rickety to make our way down there nowadays, the memory is fond.

We smile because we are so happy to have found Slope Goat and hope that Dennis keeps at it through 2021.

Blue Ridge Beautiful

New Year’s Eve Party

No, I never was one to party on New Year’s Eve.

Not Anti-Social. I like people but not crowds. Perhaps this is an Advantage in the Time of Covid?

However, Bill and I remember many years of “partying” with good friends. And many years ago, in this rural area of Virginia where we settled for over 30 years, we made friends with a retired couple in Camelot. Except for 2020, we four had regular dinners together and rejoiced in differing opinions on most every topic. Mostly we loved sharing laughter.

And many years ago we created our own traditional New Year’s Eves together, following the same plan each year. We met around 6:00 PM, dined amid happy teasing conversation, and then returned to our place to watch a movie. And some of us were already yawning.

By 11:00 PM or sooner, we began checking up on Pete, who would begin snoring even if we had purchased a wildly exciting action film.

The snoring was Bill’s cue to gather glasses and champagne.

And the yearly agreement was this:

  • If we cannot make it to midnight, we will have champagne and wish each other well and our friends can go home.
  • If we do make it to midnight, then there will be something to tell the family about for the next year. “Guess what? We stayed awake until midnight!”
  • We rarely make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve, but we always create fond memories.

In favor of self shut downs and thanks to the threat of the Nasty Virus Covid for most of 2020, we will miss our two laughing friends this New Year’s Eve. At any rate, we forgot to get the champagne. But, at the stroke of midnight I know Bill and I will drift back together from our different movies in different rooms to wish each other good health and good luck in the coming year. And we will call or be called by our beautiful family. And if it’s not too late before midnight we will call our old pals here in Camelot!

I wish you well too, and even without champagne.

“Happy New Year my friends out there in Cyberspace. And Here’s to making and maintaining great connections!”

Oh, to be thankful for a bit of good luck lately. But is it luck that Covid-19 will see many of us in the history books of the future. And if we outlive this virus, we are like the souls who survived the Great Plagues of earlier times.

Old Wives’ tales abounded then as now and regional customs took over with their guarantees of good luck. Wearing a necklace of garlic to ward off evil vapors is one I read about years ago. I haven’t tried that yet.

But dining on Pork on New Year’s Day was a tradition in Bill’s childhood (leftover from Plague times?) and a pork roast on New Year’s Day became a yearly family ritual in our home.

Most years I baked a traditional pork roast drenched in sauerkraut to bring us good luck, and though the luck did seem to follow us from year to year, the big roast got heavier and heavier, especially after all the sweets and goodies that collected over the Christmas holidays.

Eventually we decided to try simpler fare, and so arrived DOR’S APPLE PORKCHOP RECIPE (Good for good luck on New Year’s Day and beyond):

The question is: Will one pork chop bring as much good luck per person as a big roast?

Quality versus Quantity Equals Pork in the Time of Covid

DOR’S APPLE PORK CHOPS

Ingredients:

  • 3-6 fairly thick Pork Chops (I use only two – one for Bill and one for me)
  • 4-5 apples peeled and sliced to lay on top of the chops (like a blanket)
  • 1/2 Cup Brown sugar, more or less
  • 2 Tbs Sage
  • 1 thinly sliced whole Onion
  • 1 Carrot cut into little tiny bits (mostly for color and a hint of health)

Rub a roasting pan (small one for only 2 chops) with the raw chops (to grease it a bit)

Put chops in one layer in the baking dish or pan

Cover chops with sliced apples

Sprinkle all over with brown sugar.

Sprinkle sage on top.

Spread onion slices on top.

Sprinkle the little bits of carrots on top too – for color.

Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 1 1/2 hours.

This is really delicious served with Baked Beans and a nice green salad!

Happy New Year to my friends here and there in the Blog-Us-Fear.

And Good Luck!

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It was ccccold when I opened my eyes this morning. I was looking at the ceiling where we can immediately know the time and the temp all lit up like a starry sky above.  Who needs to know the time and temp that early anyway?  In fact, knowing made me want to go back to sleep.

But I had to get up to put chicken in the crock pot. 

I was thinking, “How can I rise, dress in something warm and cozy,  find my cane, and then hobble out to the kitchen with nary a sound?

Should I just go back to sleep and forget the crock pot?

“No”, I answered.  “You have to stay on plan.  So, it’s cold.  You will survive.”

Now I am aware it is colder elsewhere in the country.  And wetter.  And snowier.  So feeling sorry for myself and broadcasting the woe-is-me attitude is self serving. 

“Stay in bed”, I thought. “You are entitled to selfish self-serving pampering.”

“No, get up!” 

“Get going.”

The internal struggle continued and jumped to other concerns about the cold temperatures.

Do the lights go out just because it’s cold?

Ooooh!  I almost forgot we now have a whole-house generator so the crock pot would theoretically keep on “crocking” and no need for me to find candles or store water.

No visitors expected here anyway due to the nasty Covid-19 virus, so why am I keeping to a regular dining schedule?  We could eat late or early or even in the middle of the night.

But the sun is rising in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  And by golly it’s cold!

The chicken dish is in the crock pot at last, and if you are interested, here’s the complicated recipe:

DOR’S CROCK POT YUMMY CHICKEN

GOOD ON A COLD DAY NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE

WORTH GETTING OUT OF A WARM BED FOR

Ingredients:  Chicken, a can of black beans, and a jar of salsa.

Directions:

Put however many pieces of chicken in the crock pot

Dump in a can of black beans and a jar of salsa.

Put on “Low” for about 8 or 9 hours and plan to serve over noodles or rice.

And go back to bed!

Frozen

View from the warm interior of my home December 17, 2020

An icey foggy strange and wonderfully different day in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are always a viewing pleasure, but today they are a distant and magical kingdom right out of a Disney film.

Little Things Mean Alot

A little sun, some grass seed and a cover of straw and look what we have created! Or rather, the earth has given forth and I am once again amazed at just what goodness the world can wrought.

Oh, I know growing grass is a little thing.

But that is what this story is about – the green green grass growing in our front garden!

And sometimes pictures speak louder than words.

Young at Heart

I was waiting to be called in to see the doctor re BigFoot (now on the opposite foot!) Feeling sorry for myself too, out in public in the middle of a pandemic, masked among other anonymously masked people.

On top of the doom and gloom mood I was in, it was raining hard and I wasn’t feeling a bit cozy even though I was dry.

Then a beautifully dressed woman came in. She was maybe in her 60’s. And with her was a little stooped man, also impeccably dressed. He looked like an English magazine ad for what to wear to look prosperously elegant.

“What an interesting duo,” I thought.

They went to the reception counter where the little man was asked his birth date. Around here in Virginia’s medical communities we seem to be known more for our birthdates than for our names. Anyway, here was the little man’s answer:

“July 12, 1918 – I have been around for awhile.”

That makes him 102 years old!

And then he walked by me, looked down and said, “Good morning.” It was 2PM in the afternoon but so what? And I replied “Good morning to you.”

That encounter literally made my day, cheered me out of my doldrums and gave me hope. I have never met a 102 year old person, have you? What a wonder that was. And I could tell he must have been and probably still is great fun.

A people person. A man who lives for rainbows.

A man who is young at heart.

Is it Halloween yet?
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Today is downright cold. “Sweater Weather,” my Mom called it. In Florida where I grew up Autumn announced its arrival with a delightfully cool breeze that offered blessed relief from Summer heat. We knew more of that was coming and we could not wait to greet the season.

Virginia is different. Things can and do change overnight. Winter’s warnings here are loud, clear and insistent. Last night the warning came with a breeze too cold to leave the windows open and a sudden need to cover up.

Yes, summer tops look strangely out of place in the closet now and shorts, bathing suit and sun hats are ready for wistful hibernation. I should have been prepared for this since the little market down the road has been showcasing mums and pumpkins for many days now. And the internet is featuring autumn decor and Halloween.

Even recipes emerge that I haven’t even thought of all Summer. I suddenly want to make more stews and hearty meals. I am famous for simple, easy, recipes that taste like they took alot of work. Here’s a good one for Old Fashioned Meatloaf with a great tangy twist.

DOR’S BARBECUED MEAT LOAF

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 onion, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 15-16 oz. can of tomato sauce, divided

½ cup water

3 tablespoons vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

            Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixer bowl; add ½ can of tomato sauce, mixing well.  Place mixture in a 10x6x1-inch baking dish, and shape into a loaf.  Combine remaining tomato sauce and remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl and pour over loaf.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done, basting often.  Yield: 8 servings.

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