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Archive for the ‘Country Challenges’ Category

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.”

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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

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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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dirty windshield

Would you believe I am afraid to drive through an automatic car wash?

But, last week, determined to be brave, I drove right up to the car wash place and inserted $7.00 in the order meter thing.  Then clicked the button.

A lighted sign said “Drive Ahead.”

I drove ahead, adroitly crossed the hump and put the car in neutral as instructed.

Then

  •  A new sign lit up that said,  “Back Up to Start”.
  • So I backed up and another sign said “Drive Ahead”.
  • I drove ahead and again crossed the hump and put the car in neutral.
  • And a new sign lit up.  “Back Up to Start.” 
  • And thus it went.  Drive on. Back up.  Drive on.  Back up. 

After about 6 times and concerned that the car driver behind me watching this fiasco would lose patience, I finally drove ahead and out of the place in a dirty car minus $7!

Fortunately, my son is now visiting and he went through the car wash for me – with no stop and go either!

This is a grand visit with our son and Bill and I are expecting the three grandgirls too this weekend.  Sons and granddaughters make for a wonderful family I am so proud of.  But, I am sorry daughter-in-law, Emmy could not join them here this time because daughters-in-law are wonderful people too and it would be so sweet to have everybody together.

C & Em

Daughter-in-Law and Son, Our Beautiful People

 

 

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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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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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My BigFoot “Expert Doctor” is in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It’s about an hour and a half drive over the legendary Afton Mountain.

And even on a clear day you can be confronted with fog.

There are lights embedded in the roadway but it still feels treacherous.

And it may not actually be fog, but the signs say so.  Last time we went “over the hill” we could see a low lying cloud enshrouding the roadway, and then drove right into it.

What a thrill it is to creep along and wonder how bad it could get and would we careen over the edge?

Can you tell I am a worrier?

We have survived the winter with several visits over Afton Mountain and actually this was the first time to experience fog.

From Virginia Living:  “The drop-dead gorgeous scenery disappears when clouds blanket the mountain. Fog and ice make for a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) has addressed safety by installing expensive airport runway lights along the 64 roadway to guide motorists…”

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