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Archive for the ‘Country Adventures’ Category

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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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Egg Exploding

It might be a funny story for future generation giggles.

It was not funny yesterday.

I decided to make hard boiled eggs.

I decided to try another way to make them.

  • Step 1:

You bring them to a boil and

  • Step 2:

Immediately remove them from the heat and allow to stand precisely 17 minutes.

Yup.  I did Step 1.  I am good at following directions.

And then I left.

I think I thought I had 17 minutes to write thank you notes.

The bad thing is I missed Step 2 – the 17 minute-part where you take the eggs off the stove and allow them to stand.

It must have been about 37 minutes later when I heard a funny noise.   Elsa-the-dog was pacing and trying to tell me something was amiss, but I ignored her and told her everything would be allright.

I was busy concentrating you know – writing lovely thank you notes.  It couldn’t be 17 minutes already.  Could it?

Then there came another noise.

Only this time it was a thunderous BANG!  Like a very loud GUNSHOT in the kitchen!

Was someone being murdered INSIDE my house?

It is still gun hunting season here.

Was there someone actually firing a gun in my house?

I ran/hobbled to the kitchen in time to see – YES – it was an explosion all right –

AN EXPLOSION OF EGGS!

Have you ever seen an egg explode?

It was a first for me too.

Oddly enough, I become very calm and deliberate in a crisis.  If you discount the way I talk to myself and even give myself vocal instructions, you would surely admire my bravery in quickly turning the burner off.  I also thought to put Elsa in the back room to keep her from eating exploded eggs.

Note: There were no more eggs in the pot.  I think most of them were on the ceiling and the pot was burned black.

There was definitely egg on the ceiling,

egg on the floor,

egg across the stove top,

egg under the vent hood,

eggs on the walls,

bits of egg into the next room,

egg EVERYWHERE!

Bill helped me clean up, especially in the upper reaches (like egg on top of the refrigerator).

I am still finding egg or egg shells in unusual places.

Finally my friend Amy came over and under her eagle eye and a tightrope walker’s balance, the last remnants of eggs on the ceiling are gone.

The only thing left is

“egg on my face.”

If you are not familiar with this expression, here is what it means.

From “The Dictionary of Cliches” by James Rogers (Ballatine Books, New York, 1985): “to have egg on your face – To be embarrassed or chagrined at something one has done or the way one did it; to do something ineptly. The expression originated in the United States some 25 years ago, probably from the fact that someone eating an egg sloppily is likely to wind up with some of it on his face and therefore not looking his best. 

 

 

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Dec Storm Diego by Nightfall

Nightfall – Winter Storm Diego 2018

Dec Storm Diego by Nightfall

It was predicted to be One Inch of Snow!

Turned out to be over a foot!

We never lost power but it was this December’s Winter Storm Diego that dumped a whole lot of snow on our rural Virginia paradise.

We were curious about Elsa’s reaction!

Elsa is the new rescue dog and we are still trying to understand her past, her story, and how she feels about things.

How would The Little Dude react to deepening snow?

 

Turns out that Elsa thinks snow is somethig to eat.

And she is not intimidated by the white stuff piling up over her head either!  She will go anywhere until she gets cold and goes home.

I am from Florida and saw snow first at the age of 21.   Ho Hum right?

Snow?

Ridiculous but this Florida girl raised on a beach is still excited every time the first flake arrives here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia –  and I still marvel at the immense beauty of nature shrouded in white.

Elsa Rapt Attn

Snow!!!!????

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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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