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Archive for the ‘Country Challenges’ Category

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Lee Highway

This morning I had an appointment in Staunton, Virginia and took the serene Lee Highway.  It is normally a 45+ minute ride but I like driving through serenity with views of a tranquil rural Virginia.  And on this bright, sunny day it felt like I was driving the only car on the road.

That was until the traffic jam caused by an accident up ahead.  First a 20 minute wait with the engine off and then a forced U-turn to start over on the Interstate.   Arghhh!

Lost – Time 

Being a woman of  iron will and firm determination I got on that hated truck-dominated freeway chewing on my cheek from nervous anxiety and made it to the appointment just in time to find the doors to my destination were locked.  Arghhh!

Found –  Destination

Lost – Nobody There

A strange looking fellow dressed in raggedy clothing came up to my car and said, “Can I help you?”  Putting on a nothing-scares-me demeanor, I said,  ” I have an appointment at this place but noone is there.”

And he said:  “No, you don’t have an appointment.  We are closed.”  Turns out the scruffy fellow was the one I had an appointment with.

It is possible I had the wrong date but not likely.

Nevertheless, after some not-so-polite words with the person I was supposed to have the appointment with, I moved on.

Lost – Time and Temper

I next wanted to find Milmont Greenhouses in Stuarts Draft, VA.  I don’t have a GPS but managed to muddle my way to this bastion of millions of blooming and budding things.

 I was on a search for Cat Mint!

Cat Mint is supposedly critter proof (deer and rabbits hate it).  It is also drought resistant, blooms almost all summer, looks a lot like Lavender, and “if you can’t grow Cat Mint you should stay out of the garden.”

O.K., so I miraculously found the place!

milmont-1

Found – Milmont Greenhouses

But then I couldn’t find the Cat Mint.

Lost – Energy (Staggering Around a Giant Nursery)

Milmont

Cat Mint is listed under Nepeta.  Who knew? 

nepeta_cats_meow_cjw14-23

Nepeta – Cat Mint

After wandering around the greenhouses among crowds of manic gardeners I managed to look on the good side and said to myself, “At least you are getting some Vitamin D3 with all this sunshine!”

Found – A Positive Outlook on Life

And finally there it was – the Nepeta.

Found – Nepeta (or YES – CAT MINT)

But my sunglasses managed to disappear.

Lost – Sunglasses

I thought I lost my cell phone too but it was in the car all along.

Tension does this sometimes – causes you to lose your mind.

Lost – Mind

I did find my cell phone though.  It was tucked in the creases of the passenger seat.

Found – Cell phone

It was a very strange Lost and Found kind of day.

 

 

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I get “the bug” this time of year.  Not the flu bug (please), but the urge to get rid of stuff.

Sunshine brings it on and Virginia has had many sun-shiney days this winter

It’s high time to make decisions about what clothes to discard and which to donate!

Over twenty years ago I was a working girl of semi svelt proportions who invested in quality stuff befitting a career girl’s status.

And would you believe those pencil thin skirts and silk blouses are still in a back closet?

They are the favorite clothes that will not button or zip no matter how much I hold in deteriorating abs.

Never mind  the suits and silks of the past are no longer in style and never mind that most of those vintage beauties are ridiculous to wear in the country.

Sensible sneakers and jeans are things to wear here in rural Virginia (with the exception of one or two special occasions where people still turn out in jeans!)

But back to the bug, my warped thinking every Spring is,  “Hang onto this.  You might get down to that size again!”

That skirt was high quality you know.

But there are many other “things” to hang onto.  Shorts, bathing suits, and even underwear have accumulated in plastic bags marked Medium, L, XL, XXL (notice there never was a Small).

It is exhausting work to try all those sizes back on.

Sigh.

I have managed to donate two coats to Good Will, but promptly bought two more – needed someting in beige after all.  Something to wear with jeans.

Best to leave all this decision making until it is really Spring, or maybe a year from next Spring?

I might get down to that size again!

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You have to plan to be self-sufficient to live in the country.

Like, Bill and I have learned to imagine power outages and other deprivations in Oh-No-We-Are-Under-Attack situations.

In over 27 years we have never been under attack out here in the tranquil Virginia countryside.

Nevertheless, we do have frequent power outages and always think we are prepared.

This week, in a howling wind storm, right after dinner when the dishes were stacked in the dishwasher and we were happily watching t.v., the lights went out.

Ho Hum.

We were smugly and snugly prepared!

  • A wood stove for cozy warmth
  • A generator for lights, television, computers, etc.
  • Candles and Flashlights
  • A little extra food in the pantry
  • Water

Along with the lights, the television went black, and the dishwasher too.

And when I tried to check the electric co-0p status on Facebook, even my computer (on battery) started screaming, “YOU HAVE A VIRUS INFECTION!”

The wood stove was a life saver if you don’t count old Bill traipsing in and out for wood and by the time the fire got going good, the power was restored.

The power was off for only 2 1/2 hours.

But the television stayed dead even though Bill took it all apart.  He finally called a techie who told him to put it back together again.  That didn’t help either.

The 14 year old dishwasher was dead too, no matter how many buttons we pushed.  Fortunately, I don’t think Bill knew how to take that apart so we called an expert in the morning.

But Bill was able to fix my computer by restarting it.  My h – e – r – o!

FINAL REPORT FOLLOWING DAY:

The dishwasher man came right out and gave us 2 choices:

  • Buy a new dishwasher (which he said we would hate) or
  • Wait 4 days for a new control board.   I am hand washing dishes for the time being.
  • The t.v. is working again because Bill discovered a loose connection.
  • My h – e – r – o!
  • So much for being prepared!

Life is on track again but I am reminded that “Smugness is folly.”

*Quote by Dor

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Ever hear of a weighted hula hoop?  This one has the addition of 3 pounds!  Each grandgirl tried it once and that was the end of hula hooping.

I never learned to hold up a “weight-less” version so they all had my adoring admiration.

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o-NEIGHBOURHOOD-WATCH-SIGNS-TORONTO-570There were two hummingbird feeders on our deck this week.   Now there is one.

A Dine Until Dark Curfew has been imposed on the little hummers and the one remaining feeder is taken inside when the sun goes down.

What happened?

A mystery intruder  visited and vandalized our peaceful Virginia home.

If you are interested in solving mysteries, here are the clues:

  1. A favorite old hummingbird feeder  was lying in three pieces on our deck,
  2. amid a wide swath of sticky sugar water, 
  3. replete with large animal footprints, and
  4. unidentified animal scat on the deck stairs.

“What critter (or person) could it be?”we wondered.

Bill thought it was a raccoon.  I thought a bear. Can you tell by these observations the differences in our personalities and outlooks on life?

I Googled SCAT and found some that looked like ours (NO, NOT HUMAN).  Oddly, there are actual animal “poop charts” so you can compare and identify droppings!  Somehow I find this offensive to my sensitive senses.

scat_berries4_800x600

Bear Scat

Anyway, that was as far as I got researching when an email came in from our immediate next door neighbors warning they had seen a mama bear and her two cubs in their back yard!

bear watch

Mystery SOLVED!  IT WAS DEFINITELY A BEAR!!!  AND A VIRGINIA BLACK BEAR WITH TWIN CUBS!!!  Well, what did I expect when we chose to live in the country – civilization?

Then a second email came  and a third.  The word is out and we have a NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH with friends sending email alerts!

  • “We saw a mama bear and two cubs in our back yard this morning.  If you think this is information that should be shared with the neighbors, would you pass it on?”  
  • “Yep! We had some work being done at our house a few weeks ago and they videoed two cubs and the mom on our property.”
  • “Also I saw them crossing the hunt road, heading up the hill into the woods between the pond and the riding ring, just like last summer. My mare has indicated their closeness to our place too. I have not viewed them there personally yet (but, she doesn’t fib).”
It is certainly comforting to know there is a Three Bears Neighborhood Watch, but having the trio on my deck borders on disconcerting!
I have a plan though.,
The trick is stay close to the front door, or the back door, or the car door.
Or if the bear gets inside – to barricade in the bathroom with my cell phone!
So much for summer walks in the woods.

 

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kenmore freezerI know it is a bit unorthodox to lean into a deep freeze when the temps hover around 100 degrees outside, but yes, I confess, “I did it.”

Truth is our cavernous HUGE deep freezer suddenly began spewing water over everything in it.  I haven’t defrosted it in a month or two, 3 or 4 months, maybe a year, so I blamed myself.

Well, I know I defrosted it since 1990.

We bought the freezer in 1990!

Imagine?

And it has been going non-stop ever since.  No repairs, rare defrostings, overloading, underloading, whatever.

Anyway, I was overheated due to rising temps in this part of Virginia, so decided to hang over the edge of the old girl, chipping away at mountains of accumulated ice and picking at giant slabs with gloved hands and long prongs.

Cool!

And to add to the joy of being slightly chilled in a heat wave I had memories of balancing on the monkey bars when I was a kid.  Leaning leaning leaning over the edge of our freezer was  a similar feeling.

I felt young again!  Carefree.  And yes – Cool!

It took about four hours to defrost, de-ice, and displace all the foods that needed to be discarded or moved to our smaller refrigerator freezer.

And at the end of four hours I could barely move!

No longer cool.

In need of Ibuprofen.

Exhausted.

I turned the X&6%#@&* thing back on again, but Bill came along and turned it off.  “The freezer’s shot,” said he.  And this morning he went to Lowe’s and ordered a new one.

Me, I’m still wondering why I defrosted and cleaned a 26 year old faltering freezer.

It must have been to keep cool.

The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland offers a variety of accommodations, including snow igloos. Guests who book a snow igloo during their stay get to sleep inside a shelter of ice. The temperature is kept at a consistent level regardless of the temperature outside and the guests are provided with down sleeping bags to keep them warm when they turn in for the night. If you’re noticing a trend, it is one of many ice hotels based in the Nordic countries, a sign of ingenuity from countries that celebrate the cold.

 

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horse-head-49642_640This morning featured a unique Neighborhood Breakfast.

I am not a morning person. Maybe closer to a bear.

I used to get up early to fix bacon and eggs  for Bill, but he was always too sick to eat!  Then he found out  it was me who made him sick and he has made his own breakfast ever since.

Nevertheless, at 8:30 this morning I managed to stagger into the Hunt Lodge where our neighbors were meeting other neighbors, and all with widely divergent interests.  The breakfast was to spread good will and I guess they had no idea about grouchy morning people.

But this is the story of a Buffet Breakfast designed to bring even me around to discovering the joy of connecting in an equestrian community.

Bill and I live in  the middle of a 700 acre tract designed for traditional fox hunting.  The scenery is spectacular and we have always loved  seeing the riders in their pinques (scarlet jackets) and the thrill of seeing them “ride to the hounds.”

They say they never actually catch a fox and I fervently hope that is true, but I diverse.

One of our fellow property owners is a Fox Hunting Club.

As you might expect, the Club’s main interest  is “horsey” and although many of the Hunt people once owned parcels and lived on the land, the Club Members  no longer do live here but now come to ride from far and wide.

The “other Land Owners”  are like Bill and me.  We own a parcel of land we live on and that is partially accessible to the Fox Hunting Club.  

We, the “other” Land Owners, are the people who love horses but  don’t ride in the Hunt.

We oftentimes feel vulnerable to the Club’s hounds, horses and riders who traverse our land.

And we tend to worry about liability.

Over the decades since our equestrian haven was conceived, the Hunt Club and  the other Hunt Landowners  have drifted apart and do not always agree on the use and care of the land or even the roles of each entity.

Enter two dedicated fellows with peace and harmony in mind. One is from the Fox Hunting Club and one from The “Other” Landowners, and these two peacemakers decided to host a Neighborhood Breakfast!

Cook & Dishwasher

They planned the event right down to name tags and provided all the food and drink.  There were home baked scones and biscuits, West Virginia sausage, ham and eggs, beautiful fruits, mimosas and all the coffee we could drink.

Maybe  people were motivated by the yearning for good will, and  maybe they were mellow from all the goodies, but soon there were folks chatting  away and getting to know each other better.

We talked about horses of course.  We used to have two of our own.  

We talked about the way things used to be,

the people we knew who were such assets to the Club and to all who live here,

the beauty of the grounds, the fun and camaraderie.

We talked about “the way we were.”

And the Neighborhood Breakfast Buffet was a big success!

Kudos to Pete and Hugh who hatched this ice-breaking outreach event, and to those of us who participated in spite of morning stupors.

I hope next time we will talk about ways to work together going forward and I hope next time the party will be in the late afternoon.

But, in spite of my bear-like morning persona, I must admit there is something to be said about sharing a lovely breakfast with good people.

Communication must surely be the way to overcome divergent interests so we can all live and let live and enjoy a beautiful world.

Amazing Egg Maker

Amazing Egg Maker

06TailRideJulyBrownJarvis2

Please Come Near (626x460)

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