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We hired a painting contractor to brighten up the exterior of the house we have lived in for over 30 years. Much like my face, the old cedar siding was severely faded and in need of an uplift.

Little did we know there would be a fleet of ten young college students who came to our rescue.

They were a well trained team of experts, each with his or her own specialty and each with his or her own assigned area.

These were girls and boys from all over the country who have opted to stay in town for the summer months, and I suppose this is a good way to earn extra dollars.

I forgot how much energy and strength there resides in the young.

Suddenly there was a hoard of energetic people all over the house.

A port-a-potty was brought in – well, not “in” – but out and available for their use.

Then the mob came with all their ladders and tools and strength and determination and began by power washing.

And in 3 days the house was stained and looks better now than when it was brand new!

Woosh!

Thirty years of fading and grime erased just like that.

It was like a reverse tornado that left us house occupants scratching our heads in wonder.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love Spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. ‘Tis really the season for beautiful color and the clean clear beauty of nature’s reawakening. Even the deer begin boasting their new babies. And I feel happy and productive and eager to think about planting more flowers. But thinking is not doing and since I am still a slow motion walker waiting for a hip replacement I have not injected myself into the wild.

Photo taken by Daughter-in-Law, Emmy – Virginia Redbud

Spring is is also a time of imminent threat from the wild. Whether you go outside to feel your toes in the grass or not.

Three days ago I felt an itchy place on my back just below the left shoulder. A hot shower helped and I thought nothing of it.

Two days ago, the itch was back so I took a look with the help of a hand mirror and saw a red place with a slightly dark center. I asked Bill to take a look with a magnifying glass and he did. He said, there was nothing there…. maybe a little raised mole. So I put some anti-itch gel on it and went to a peaceful slumber.

Yesterday the itch was back in full force and when I looked at it with the hand mirror there was a pronounced dark center, much larger. Bill took a look too and said “it” (the dark center) was kind of hanging loose so he removed it. In my opinion it was a well fed deer tick! And I was immediately off to the doctor.

Results:

  1. It was probably a tick. An adult deer tick is the size of a poppy seed. There are no charts or photos I know of that show a well fed deer tick as opposed to a hungry one.
  2. The doctor said if you check yourself all over each day and you happen to take off a tick, no medication is necessary.
  3. Because I came in early, I only had to have two antibiotics immediately… no more.
  4. Evidently, if you have a tick bite and remove it within 34 hours, you will not need meds.

I am still confused over all of this.

Seems to me, you should report a tick bite no matter what. My niece contracted Lyme and suffered with it for many years.

Anyway, in addition to gimpy walking I now have the remains of a bite on my back. The culprit escaped a plastic bag I swear I sealed. He was a major escape artist.

The doctor’s answer for this latter issue was to put a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover in the bag with the tick. He will then suffocate and die but his body will stay in tact for identification! More than I want to know.

I dislike ticks and other bugs, but do I hate them enough to become a wanton murderer?

‘Tis the season all right.

Spring has sprung in all its glory.

But there is a downside to living in paradise.

Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

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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

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Many steps from house to pool.

Thirty years ago, when we built our little house in the country, we had an in-ground pool installed at the same time.

I insisted we live by water and Bill insisted on a woodstove instead of a fireplace.  It was a compromise.

The end result was a heavy-duty woodstove in the middle of the living room and a swimming pool!

As it turned out, that woodstove grew on me, maybe because it saved our lives through many a frigid winter.

And the pool meant happy memories with our son and the grandgirls, friends who visited, and our two golden retrievers who loved anything water.  Swimming in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia has always seemed to me to be the ultimate luxury.

Oh, and I forgot – there was once a horse in our pool, but that is another story.

But now (due to sheltering in place from Covid-19)  we are pretty much the only swimmers.  We invite Elsa-the-dog to join in but she is suspicious of so much water.

On July 3rd I was determined to get into the old pool and paddle around as a prelude to celebrating Independence Day 2020.  A swim would also be good for Old BigFoot.

But as enticing as it is, getting to the pool is now an enormous challenge.  Navigating all those steps is out of the question since there are many steps down, and the only other way (I thought) was walking down over uneven terrain.

Then there were the endless preparations… What to take…

  •  A water dish for Elsa.  Treats for Elsa.  A leash for Elsa.
  • Towells, walking stick (cane), suntan oil, bug repellent, sunglasses, first aid supplies.
  • How to get down there.  The pool is not far if you can walk.  May as well be to the moon for BigFoot.
  • Bill to the rescue!   “We will take the car!” said he.  And Elsa jumped into the backseat thinking it was another ride.
  • And off we went for a one minute drive around the house to wind up at the pool.

It was an unceremonious but successful arrival. 

Elsa would not even consider getting near the water.

Instead she began tentative explorations and found shady spots (to shelter in place).  In fact she found a cave under one of the big evergreen bushes where she was cool, hidden from danger, and could watch for bears in case the peeps needed protection.

BigFoot loved the swim and was already plotting how to get down there again without the mortification of being driven! 

The only concern is that Bruno-the-Bear or his sister would decide to join in, but there is always Elsa for protection.

Do you think she would emerge from her new private dog-cave-digs to scare off another bear? 

 

 

 

 

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Homeward Bound

Some eons ago, when I was a little girl my parents took us kids out for Sunday drives.  Those were always exciting times with donuts as the grand finale.

My parents are long gone, but some of those sweet memories resurface, especially since there has been ample time to reflect on past pleasures.

Nowadays Bill takes Elsa-the-dog and me for “rides in the car.”  I think he thinks we need a change of scene and he is so right.  These outings expand our world beyond the walls that bind us since Bill and I are among the most vulnerables to the Corona Virus.

Elsa gets beyond excited when we ask, “Wanna go for a ride in the car?”  She dashes back and forth barking and whining and eagerly jumps in.  But the sad thing is, Elsa does not know how to enjoy life as a dog.   She immediately hunkers down as if to hide from imminent danger, rarely looks out the window, and shakes and shivers with her head in my lap no matter where we may wander.

Because she is so frightened I ride in the back seat with her, and off we go, with Bill as the Chauffeur.

 Elsa does sit up but only if the car stops.  That gives her a window view of sorts with glimpses of an alien world fraught with terror.

  • Sometimes Bill stops at an ATM machine and when he gets out, Elsa goes mad with worry – crying and howling in despair that we have lost a pack member to the insane outside world
  • The parking lot of Walmart is always interesting too.  We went there to see if the GoodWill drop was still open (and it was).  Elsa began whining in anticipation of further pack loss, but we had not brought our donations and we all stuck together inside the relative safety of the car.
  • The Sheetz gas station is colorful too and very scary indeed.  Last time we were there a mask-less fellow was filling up next to us, right by my open window.  Suddenly he began yelling at a friend who was some distance away.  Being Covid-19- paranoid I feared I might contract the virus from his unmasked yelling vapors (so I held my breath)!  I wonder why the CDC has not recommended holding your breath as a preventative measure.
  • Another time we drove to Buena Vista (the nearest little town) and we saw whole families out walking with little kids skipping alongside. None of them were wearing masks either (not the parents, kids or dogs) but they were single family units out in the fresh air.  It was a heartwarming slice of Americana but maybe Elsa has the right idea about hunkering down and avoiding even looking out the window.
  • And our last ride in the car was around our own neighborhood where we saw a new neighbor’s house being built – a lovely A-frame log home atop a hill.

We are hoping Elsa will become accustomed to our outings and will some day enjoy the wind in her hair and the sights (other than a yelling man and an ATV machine) through the window.

In any case, I will remember these precious times, these spontaeous rides, these family/pack trips during a serious pandemic.  They were Bill’s idea for a change of scene that has now become a happy tradition.

How about you?

Wanna go for a ride in the car?

 

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bright burn burnt candle

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are on a mission to add a “Whole House Emergency Generator” to our whole house where we have survived for 30 years without one.

One of the great challenges in country living is to remain alive and functioning during power outages.  A severe thunder storm will trigger an outage here – or a slight breeze will do it too.

Living in an all electric house means when there is no power there is a total blackout.

No flushing toilets

or taking showers

or cooking (Hurrah!),

or seeing at night without flashlights and candles.

And we cannot do laundry or watch television or

charge our cell phones.

We are cold (shivering) in winter and hot (overheated) in summer.

And the silence is deafening.

But in the beginning it was an adventure!

Being cold in winter and hot in summer was a satisfying challenge.  The woodstove had to be watched and logs added and added again and again  A big storm once arrived in a summer heatwave.  It was called a “Derecho” and we lost power for five days.

Ah, the ultimate dream!  Automatic power!

Yes, Bill and I have made a grand decision to take advantage of modern progress and add an emergency Whole House Generator to our whole house.  Still, having made that decision we are now faced with numerous other decisions in order to move forward.

  1. Where should we put the ugly duckling?  The propane tank is big, ugly, and by Virginia law has to placed ten feet from any building.
  2. And  where should we put the actual generator?  It is not particularly ugly nor huge but evidently (by Virginia law) has to be five feet from any window opening.

These are only the first two questions and the more we talk and the more we investigate, the more questions arise.  Rent or buy the propane tank?  How big a tank?  How big a generator?  Where to buy?  What electric company to use for installation?    How to disguise the ugly duckling(s)?  And how much will all this cost?

The dream of automatically reinstated home comfort is the inspiration to keep asking questions and moving forward but stay tuned for any end result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There was no rain in the forecast for the whole week. Ha!  We had the gutters cleaned.  We are weeding and planting things.

Ahhhh Summertime (and the livin’ is easy)!

Good friends arrived one night as an unforecasted storm blew in.  And while we were talking and solving the problems of the world, our lights went off and on and then off again.

No problem. 

Only a little storm.

Even Elsa-the-dog was not intimidated.

And as we predicted, the storm subsided.

Off we all went to the Pink Cadillac for dinner, an old fashioned 1950’s style diner that was bustling as always. We placed our orders and kept on talking.

pink cad interior

Until the lights went out.

mystery-man-groping-behind-glass-square (1)

It’s hard to make a point

or conversation with

unfamiliar faces in the dark.

“Who ARE these people?” I wondered.

“They could be strangers I am talking to.”

At home again, the electricity was still missing.

Usually the eternal optomist, Bill was becoming negative and frustrated about the power outage.

And usually the eternal pessimist, I was beginning to see a bit of humor in the situation.

Hmmmm.  I wonder if traditional personality traits can get switched with age.

But I suppose it was easy for me to stay mellow when Bill was in charge of our survival up and down stairs to monitor the generator.

Then darkness descended and another friend drove up to our house in a panic.

“Help!” she cried.  My road is blocked by a fallen tree! Do you have a chain saw?” 

She was stuck, couldn’t get home, and at the same time, so were our dinner friends.

It took two men, two chain saws, and a big tractor to clear a “huge” tree from the road.

And of course Bill was Man #2 with Chain Saw #2.  And about two hours later he came home craving water and rest.  My hero!

And Hurrah!  The road was cleared.

We are expecting visitors in

the coming weeks of summer.

Hopefully anyone who arrives will not wind up sitting in the dark.

Let there be many joyful adventures but clear roads!

And may I please know who I am talking to (and what I am eating) at the dinner table.

 

 

 

 

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Foggy Barn 2

Little Elsa, the rescue dog, has been with us for five months.  And even with wide open spaces and acres where she can run, we have been walking her on a leash.  It was our fear since we did not know her background, that she would run away or disappear into the woods and be hurt or lost.  We love her now too much to risk losing her to a taste for freedom.

But we have had dogs here before.  Two Golden Retrievers (Peaches and Carrie), Rudy (a misunderstood Pit Bull) and Rozie, our other mixed breed love, who all lived to old age. None of them ever required leash control on home ground since we have ample space right here for long country walks and little traffic to worry about.

One day Bill and I knew it was time to finally set Elsa free to stretch her legs and run with the wind.  Removing Elsa’s leash was a terrifying move for all three of us.

Elsa could not believe her luck when the door opened and there was nothing holding her back.

And out she went – running and running and sniffing and sniffing.  Oh no!  Will she love freedom too much to return?

Out of sight she went with us

calling and calling

and so worried for her safety.

And suddenly,

THERE SHE WAS!

And suddenly

she tore off again, running and running and free!

And THERE SHE WAS

walking in sight of us without a leash!

And again, running and running

and exploring the world.

And finally she was walking with us

and met us at our door.

Home!

All three of our hearts are swelling with pride and love.  We have all seen and felt the utter joy of freedom in the shape of a little rescue dog who has probably never felt it before.

 

 

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night caps

It has been an unusual winter here in rural Virginia.  Everybody says that around the globe, but it may actually be true here.  One day it feels and looks like Spring with balmy breezes and sunshine.  And the next there may be snow or freezing rain or rain or flooding or wind.

With each ensuing event our family and friends (in warmer climes) would call and ask if we were o.k.  “No problem.  They simply exaggerate the weather here.  All is well,” we said.

But then for the last two days we got seriously punishing winds.  Gusts were up to 60 miles per hour which caused limbs and toppling trees to fall onto power lines and then massive outages.

Even so,

for a time we were spared any inconvenience and we smugly carried on.

But then there were the inevitable lights out.

It was our turn.

Ah well, no problem.  There is a trusty wood stove in our living room and a little generator only Bill knows how to operate.  And soon we were once again smugly carrying on.

And in a mere two hours our lights returned and we let the fire in the woodstove slowly burn itself out. 

I retired around 11PM and went into a warm cozy dreamy kind of sleep

when around midnight the lights went out again.

The house slowly turned stone cold.

So did the top of my head

and then my nose which woke me up at 3:15 A.M.

Have you ever tried to warm your nose and keep breathing?

I did manage to create a sort of blanket tent

around head and face but

the cold kept seeping in.

I got up to put on a wool cap

(not particularly becoming).

It kept slipping down over my eyes.

The forehead got warmer

but the nose re-froze.

This went on until 5 AM…. a rough night.

Bill finally got the wood stove going again at 6AM and the power returned about 10 AM this morning.

My nose is warm again.  So is the forehead.  But I had a lot of time to think about coping with a cold nose and other bodily parts and kept remembering “mama in her ‘kerchief” in the Twas The Night Before Christmas poem.  Surely she and my ancestors had the same problems with the fires going out and the cold creeping in.

Today my side of the bed is at the ready with

  • a wool cap nearby (forget romance forever),
  • an extra blanket for swaddling semi-exposed areas of face and body,
  • tightly closed windows (never mind allowing in fresh air for health),
  • and warm socks to avoid frostbite.

I wonder if “mama in her ‘kerchief” had a canopied curtained bed.

Not a bad idea.

Now if only Elsa-the-fuzzy-wuzzy-dog would recognize the value of cuddling, winter’s woes will disappear.

 

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elsa hiding head

Elsa Heard a Noise

Gun Shots, Backfires or Fireworks?

The end of 2018 began with popping noises in the distance.  Elsa-the-dog is terrified of popping noises like faraway fireworks.  We bought her a “Thundershirt” (meant to wrap around her tummy to create a sense of well being).  The problem is we don’t get to it (the shirt) in time.

I suppose hiding your head is a good alternative.

More Cookies?

I started a new tradition this New Year’s Eve to celebrate Year’s End and a new year’s beginning.  I baked whipped shortbread cookies.  My sweet Canadian friend, Cindy, gave me the recipe for truly melt in your mouth fabulous cookies and I intend to make them every year for New Year’s Eve.

As my dear old Dad was known to say, “Delicious if I do say so myself.”

cookies shortbread 2

Whipped Shortbread Cookies – Recipe by Cindy – Made by Dor

Old Traditions or Old People?

Every year we replay the tradition of getting together with old friends for:

celebratory drinks at our house,

followed by dinner out,

followed by a movie at our house,

followed by champagne to toast in the New Year.

We aim to finish up at midnight and sometimes we make it.  This year, not so much.  We were all dozing off by 10:30PM so made our toasts and called it a night.

Something’s wrong here.

End of a Year and The Downtown Lexington Fall of the Ball

lexington_balldroprelee5_sm

This year I hope to urge our friends to have a very late dinner with us in downtown Lexington, Virginia and then proceed to Main Street to hang out and watch the falling of our very own small town ball!

More and more people are doing that even though it only takes about 30 seconds for the shiny thing to fall.

Then maybe 100 balloons float down upon the crowd of maybe 100 folks who are just as ready to cheer and holler as all those revelers in Times Square.

 I am awake now and trying to adjust to the end of a full-of-surprises 2018.

Hope your “endings” were fun and your “beginnings” too.

And now wishing you a very Happy New Year!

 

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