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Archive for the ‘Country Adventures’ Category

cheese shop candy

What do dogs, health food and beer have in common?

A day in the outside world with son and youngest grandgirl.   (Two more grandgirls are also  expected here this week).

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

Knowing how much Bill and I wish for a four-legged friend, our son and grandgirl took us on a dog search at PetSmart in Waynesboro, Virginia.  Every Saturday from 10AM to 2:00PM various foster people bring available rescue dogs there for open air viewing and visitations.

How exciting and sometimes sad it was to meet and greet all the homeless canines available.  Many were being adopted quickly and of course I fell in love with one.

“Paddy” is a big dog in a 20 pound body – an Aussie/Sheltie mix with the most intelligent adorable face.  He seemed as calm as could be in the face of maniacal barking all around him and sat by my feet allowing me to stroke his sweet head.

Even so, I was advised that Australian Shepherds are extremely high energy and difficult and I took the handler at her word. The message was that Paddy needs a young family to take him home and of course he was snatched up immediately.

I still have regrets and miss Paddy even though I only knew him for a few minutes.  I hope he is happy in his new digs.

Healthy Eating?

Next Stop:  The Cheese Shop in Stuart’s Draft, Virginia.  This is where you can get old fashioned candies (healthy?), magnificent cheeses, and all sorts of nuts, jams, jellies, and spices!

The Cheese Shop has been on my favorites list for over 20 years and it just keeps getting better as well as more and more expensive than it was way back then.  We wound up with peanut butter pretzel pillows, several varieties of candies like caramel creams, chocolate covered coffee beans, elderberry jam, beef sticks, muenster and farmer cheese, and more!

Bound for Beer

Next was the Devil’s Backbone Outpost for dinner.

It’s a brewery just north of Lexington, Virginia that has recently opened a “kitchen” in addition to their well established beer bar/tap room.  A great big dining area was bustling when we arrived and there was even musical entertainment brought in from Lynchburg, Virginia.

We wound up sitting outside with a stellar view of the Blue Ridge Mountains on a cool, delicious evening of beer tasting, happy talk and uniquely tasty grub.

It was a grand day.

And even though we returned home with no dog to cuddle, I am grateful for a grand family, good times, and all that candy on my “no/no” list.

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Hogweed in Northern Michigan

“Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?”

– Henry David Thoreau

 

Oh how we rejoice in the beauty of nature!  And summertime in rural Virginia couldn’t be more invitingly lush and green.

Then my brother called from California to warn us about an invasive weed recently found in Virginia.

Beware HOGWEED!

It grows exceedingly tall and some might say, “pretty”,  but you don’t want to cut Hog Weed for indoor  arrangements.  Even if you just brush against as you pass by, your skin may suddenly become sunlight sensitive to the point of third degree burns!

And if you get some of the sap in your eyes, you could literally go permanently blind.

Read about Hogweed  here!  It is in a number of states now and Virginia is the latest.

Now if Hogweed wasn’t enough (and forgeddabout Stink Bug infestations) but have you ever heard of SLIME MOLD?

Slime Mold

Slime Mold – Nickname “Dog Vomit.” Ewwwwww!

This weekend I looked around the mulched beds in our front yard and saw a giant spread of a horrifyingly ugly mold.

It was a sickly white globby thing!

I expected it to ooze out bigger and bigger and to eventually smother every living thing in its path.  Yes, you would definitely see SLIME MOLD in a very scary horror movie.

I was terrified.  I didn’t want to touch it.  I didn’t want to move it.  “Well, maybe I will water it,” I thought.  A hard spray to the monolithic gooey mass created a copper colored cloud of deadly dust.

  • Am I inhaling this?
  • Will I die of an alien fungus and who would know?

My fearless friend Amy was here but even she was intimidated by the ugly slime.  She agreed to turn a pot over on it so we wouldn’t have to see it.  I had nightmares that night though.

  • What if it seeped out the sides of the upside-down pot?
  • What if it could figure out how to get inside the house?
  • There was a hole in the bottom of the pot for drainage but the hole was now “up” and was I feeding The THING with oxygen and enabling it to grow?
  • Would it crawl out the drainage hole?

Thank Goodness for “Hey Google!”

Turns out that SLIME MOLD (affectionately nicknamed “DOG VOMIT”due to the similarity in appearance) is not dangerous to humans or pets or even plants if it doesn’t smother them with love.

Slime Mold is only horrifyingly ugly, which demonstrates that sometimes Mother Nature is indeed, benevolent and even compassionate.

Watering will cause Slime Mold to float around in the air (in that big copper cloud I unleashed) and spread (the result of my watering efforts).

And so my friends, my own personal ugly Slime Mold took up new residence on top of an Impatiens flower in the same bed.

According to my panicked research, the way to remove it (the Slime Thing) is to dig it up with a shovel, put it in a plastic bag (like you would dog doo) and discard the whole thing in the trash.

Bill grinned and bore it and just pitched the one celled organism into the woods where it will surely find some new decaying vegetation on which to build a life.  We are not killers after all.

Such are the gifts of nature to be found in the Virginia countryside!

I did see a mama turkey and her six young-uns running for the woods yesterday.  Maybe they heard about the Slime Mold Invasion.

So, what’s new in your neck-o-the-woods?

 

 

 

 

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Smashed Bird Feeder Courtesy of Bruno the Bear

We lived to tell the tale of Bruno the Bear.

Last night, if you may recall, I was cowering in the back room watching Bill try to defend our home from a very BIG bear!

Really.

I estimate Bruno was over 300 pounds!

I considered that our lives were in danger but in some ways the scene at the living room bay windows was hilarious.

Bruno was pacing back and forth and looking in at Bill.

Bill was growling very loudly and swearing at the bear.  He (Bill) was also waving his arms around and snarling and making monster faces. 

My HERO!

We had the lights on at the deck so I was able to see Bruno’s reaction.

He looked a bit irked.

I should have snapped a picture but was afraid it would irk him more.  It wouldn’t take much for him to lean on a window and enter the house!

Finally Bruno decided to leave (but momentarily forgot the way he had arrived).

I think the HUGE BIG BEAR stayed visiting us for about an hour.  Maybe it was less but it felt like an hour.

Actually, it felt like a few several hours and I got dressed while Bill was playing his monster roll (just in case we had to flee and stay at a motel for a few days).

Then it got quiet and stayed quiet, and we gave up and went to bed.   Bruno must have gone on to other things.

Let us hope it will remain quiet again tonight.

Bruno also left his mark by attacking a towel rack on our deck (now hanging askew).
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Do you suppose Bruno hates horses?  Why knock things awry like that anyway?

And a neighbor reported that he tore down a birdhouse with baby chicks in it but they are still alive!

Well, our trip to Washington, DC was fraught with tension due to the monstrous traffic.  But then we returned to the peace and quiet of the Virginia countryside only to find a monster in our midst.

I have to admit Bruno was kind of cute though.  Those little round bear ears and inquisitive face.

I hope, however, that he doesn’t mistake me for Goldilocks!

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Camping

The problem with blogging is people begin to know all your weaknesses and character flaws.

Most cyberspace friends already know this country girl’slady’s flaws:

  • A devout shopper,
  • a worrier,
  • guilt ridden
  • a planner,
  • and a neat freak.

My hope is that all in all, you all (y’all in Virginia-ese) find these combined traits to be endearing.

But did you know that the BigFoot whiner was once an outdoorsy camping enthusiast?

Here are some FAQS you may have missed:

  • Once, at 3 AM, I threw an air mattress across the pup tent at my devoted spouse.

Why?

Because I kept sliding off and onto the cold lumpy ground.

  • And another time, I ran with a coat around my ankles to get back to the tent.

Why?

Because it was deer hunting season and it occurred to me that a beige suede coat whilst relieving oneself in the woods would conjure up images of a white-tailed deer!

  • And how about the time I had to wear a black patch over my eye to a party.  And it wasn’t Halloween and it wasn’t a costume to make me look like a Pirate either.

Why?

Because a giant gnat bit me near the eye and it swelled up to a frightening countenance.

  • And then there was the time we were six minutes into the Appalachian Trail.  Bravely carrying a 30 pound back pack I was moaning and lagging in line behind husband, our 8 year old son, and Tinker, the dog.  That’s when I sat down in the middle of the trail and cried.  

Why?

Because Y’All,

I hate camping!

More FAQs?

  • How about the tent that blew away?
  • Or having to sit under a tarp until a deluge of rain lets up?
  • Or trying to sleep listening to something or things crashing through the forest?
  • And wondering if we will be attacked by wolves or bears or angry deer.
  • Or being “Nose Cold” (and I don’t mean a head cold).  I mean a nose that’s almost frozen along with toes.

And now you have another character flaw to add to the list!

And Thank you Andrew for inspiring this post!

 

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Amy and Hildegard

My friend Amy is always doing fascinating things.  She is the one who took up Contra Dancing.  And before that it was Jumpology.  She has taught piano and is a violinist, but is now taking cello lessons.  And she got a trucker’s license in order to drive preschoolers in a school bus.  And she is a marathon runner too.  There is more.

But Amy’s latest endeavor is raising chickens.

She and her sons built the perfect stable safe house for them, better known as a chicken coop.  She then bought four beautiful egg laying chickens and she gave them old fashioned names:

  • Penelope
  • Gertrude (Gertie)
  • Esther, and
  • Henrietta

And they all laid beautiful delicious eggs.  But sadly, Henrietta passed away.   They said it was from an inherited disease.  Amy was distraught, but soon went out and purchased two more cluckers:

  • Esmerelda and
  • Hildegard (Hildegard is now her favorite chicken!  She runs to greet Amy and rides on her shoulder).

Unfortunately, Amy just discovered

that Hildegard and Esmerelda are EGG EATERS!

Oh no!

This is not good.

This is a very bad thing because it teaches all the other chickens to eat eggs too.

It is a nasty habit, egg eating, and very hard to break.  But Amy is determined.

What to do.  What to do.

Amy thinks this blog post may help others of you out there who are raising chickens who turn out to be egg eaters.  After assiduous research and concentrated efforts to watch, wait and trick the ladies, things seem to be paying off.

Try these remedies:

  1. Watch, wait and grab newly laid eggs of the “good girls” ASAP.
  2. Replace real eggs in the nesting box with golf balls.  The chicken ladies will peck the hard golf balls and this will make their beaks hurt.  This is breaking a habit with negative suggestion…. like pain.
  3. Replace real eggs with Mustard Eggs!  Ever hear of that one? To make a mustard egg you blow out a real egg so only the shell is left and then insert mustard.  Chickens HATE mustard and when they peck at such an egg the taste is awful.  More negative psychology.  It would cure me of eating eggs too!

Do you have an egg eater in your family besides of the human variety?

Have you successfully convinced your chickens to stop egg eating?

Please share your remedies.

We are in search of a cure.

 

 

 

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Yesterday was a magical day.

I went on a 45 minute trip to a magical outer world.

Of course, Virginia scenery this time of year is spectacular, and even stay-at-homes can rejoice in the colors of Autumn, but the windows are getting fogged up at my house and even though the mountains and the sky offer endless transitions, seeing the outer world becomes an urgent need.

You see, I am still coping with the BigFoot and am up to about 8 doctors, 20 tests, and 11 different diagnoses in a search that has gone on for just over two years.

So on most days I am a more effective person “at home” where aches and pains can be addressed in familiar surroundings.

But yesterday…. well, yesterday was different.

Old girlfriends met at a little box store in Staunton, Virginia for shopping!

Hurrah!

Shopping!

Ever feel like Alice in Wonderland?

There were bright shiny things to find and sparkly things to buy.

If I had a dog I would have loaded up on all those cute dog toys, dog beds, and doggie treats.

“Maybe I should get all that anyway.  You never know, we might find the perfect dog. And what about all that glittering jewlery for those of us who crave elegant adornment and hardly ever leave the house?  I could use a roasting pan too… a copper roasting pan.  And what about that just-the-right-size pasta bowl?

But No – Let reason prevail.”

In other words, I went slightly mad!

I did wind up with quality holiday wrap and bows, a laundry bag for travel (wishful thinking?) and great potholders (just in case I have to cook at home).  Not the most glamorous purchases I know, but Hey… a step up from online searches.  I could actually touch and feel the merchandise.

And I found a forest green sweater for me!

I have been looking for something that color since I was eight years old and there it was jumping off the rack…. perfect fit too.  Irrestible!

There is joy in finding elusive things.

Then, to top off the magical day we old girlfriends all went out for a magical lunch.

The entree I splurged on would normally have been a disappointment since it was too dry and maybe even too spicey.  But I never really noticed.  We talked and talked and even after the bill was paid, we kept on talking.

Noone rushed us off and there was time to plan our next magical meeting in that magical outer world I have been missing so much.

Have you ever had a magical day of your own?

 

 

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It’s the American “Eclipse Day” today!

I live on the edge of Totality.  Sounds romantic but that means we aren’t going to go totally dark.

And we are expecting 80% coverage of the sun by the moon.

The excitement is still catchy.

This morning I looked out the kitchen window and saw two magnificent bucks with full antlers.  How handsome and stately they were nibbling the lower leaves of our River Birch tree (no river but the Birch is doing well anyway).  But how odd to see male deer on this sort of mystical morning.  We rarely see the Bucks in their full form.

Then there were others; a Momma and her spotted fawn and sister does that formed a mini herd.

And scattered across the lawns were a flock of small black birds happily feasting.

It was a full wildlife scene in our rural Virginia when usually (by that time of the morning) such creatures have all retreated into the forest to  hide from human predators.

And that has me with questions about the oncoming eclipse.

Do the animals know?

Is it much like a Tsunami?

Are the wild creatures sensisng something  preparing for the moments of darkness to come?

 

 

 

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